Christian Institute director Colin Hart has warned that Brexit arguments must not distract Christians from bigger, deeper spiritual issues.
Christian politicians, businessmen, academics and ordinary households are facing an enormous decision, on 23 June this year: whether to vote in or out of the European Union.
There are good arguments to be made for either side and, while most Christians will have a view, senior figures in the evangelical Christian community have urged for thoughtful and prayerful attitudes.
Colin Hart, director of the Christian Institute, called this ‘a profoundly important issue for the future of our country’. However, he said, while tensions might run high politically, Christians should neither conduct themselves in an ungodly fashion, nor forget that the possible Brexit is only one of many serious issues affecting the church of Christ.
Mr Hart said: ‘A proper understanding of Britain’s membership of the EU involves questions of nationhood and sovereignty, economics and trade, democracy and accountability, defence and international relations, as well as the implications for Christian freedom’.
Yet, he added, while it is important to vote, Christians must also remember ‘too few people are calling Westminster to account over its “British values”-based proposals for Ofsted inspections of church youth work; or tackling the Scottish government’s attempts to impose a state guardian on every child in Scotland’.
Mr Hart added: ‘We are concerned government departments could try to slip through highly contentious legislation that harms Christian freedoms, while the media focus so heavily on the EU referendum. Christians need to be vigilant and ready to speak out against this.
‘As you prayerfully consider how to vote, I would urge you not to lose sight of the many other issues in the next four months, which could also have a lasting effect on our Christian freedoms’.
Jonathan Chaplin, director of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, and member of the faculty of divinity at the University of Cambridge, called on Christians to avoid being ‘bamboozled’ by clever soundbites and the ‘torrent’ of opinion.
He said: ‘The decision to be made by British voters on 23 June on UK membership of the EU is of momentous significance for the political, cultural and global destinies of the UK and Europe.
‘Amid the torrent of statistics, opinion and image construction, designed either to reason, entice, scare or bamboozle us into voting in or out, Christians should look for measured, broad ranging and theologically serious reflections on the central issue’.
He called on Christians to apply godly principles to their thinking, saying: ‘Most Christians reject the secularist, liberal assumption of the primacy of individual self-interest in national politics. They should reject the equivalent assumption in international politics.
‘From a theological point of view, the compelling appeal of universal norms of justice, peace and solidarity does not stop at national borders (some of which are historically arbitrary anyway)’.