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Director of Jubilee Centre Jonathan Tame believes the main themes of the campaign should be analysed from a relational point of view.
The United Kingdom continues to discuss the pros and cons of staying in the European Union. But are there enough biblical approaches to the debate?
Evangelical Focus asked Jonathan Tame, the director of the Jubilee Centre, an organisation which aims to promote “biblical thinking for public life.”
Tame explains that he personally wants the UK “to remain – and continue to work for the reform of the EU.”
“I believe the most important aspect is the relational one”, Tame explains, “through which we should view the main debates on the economy, immigration, security and sovereignty in the light of a possible Brexit.”
Question. What are some of your thoughts on the ‘Brexit’ campaign so far?
Answer. This is a wonderful opportunity for a large number of people to become more politically literate; learning about the EU, exploring the costs and benefits of Britain’s membership, and (hopefully) discussing the two sides of the argument in a reasonable and informed manner!
The Scottish referendum in 2014 was a great example of widespread engagement in the debate which led to record voter turnout.
An early casualty of the campaign has been the Conservative Party itself, with deep differences of opinion over Europe being unleashed after a decade of holding them back, in the interests of the Party.
Q. According to you, what is the most convincing argument for the UK to stay in the EU? And what is the most convincing argument to leave?
A. I am not convinced by the ‘reform deal’ that David Cameron brought back from the negotiations in Brussels; so for me the most convincing argument for remaining in the EU is the long term stability and security of the continent.
On the leave arguments, the most convincing one is to end free movement and regain some control over immigration, which has contributed to the current unsustainable level of property prices and rents.
Q. How do you think Christians should approach this decision? Is there an awareness that this and other important political decisions need God's guidance?
A. I believe the most important aspect of this is the relational one, through which we should view the main debates on the economy, immigration, security and sovereignty in the light of a possible Brexit.
As a nation, we entered into a treaty, a binding agreement, with the other nations of the EU, and so we should not think about this decision from a purely autonomous point of view, as if what we decide makes no difference to the other countries we have bound ourselves to.
As in any relationship, if one side breaks it, that will affect the other parties – in this case nations – involved. I’m not saying Britons should not act ultimately in their own national interest, but I do believe our national interests depend very significantly on our relationships with our European neighbours.
I am not sure how many Christians will be seeing this as needing God’s guidance – nor are many being encouraged to think biblically about it. There has so far been little thoughtful biblical teaching on the EU and Britain’s membership, which means that most Christians will have their opinions shaped by the news media they consume!
Jonathan Tame has been the director of the Jubilee Centre since January 2012, after working for two years with Jubilee Centre’s sister organisation Relational Research. Before that, he spent 11 years in Romania and 8 in Switzerland with Youth With A Mission. He holds a masters degree in agricultural economics, his wife Helene is a community chaplain, and they have five children.
For more information, you can also read an article by Guy Brandon: “The EU Referendum: Current Overview” (Nov. 2015) at the Jubilee Centre website.