I love the church … I’m convinced that the church is ‘of Christ’ …but sometimes she (that’s the church in case any of you sensitive types out there just thought I alluded to a feminine Christ figure!) frustrates the hell out of me. But today … after my sadness earlier in the week I am incredibly proud to be part of the Anglican set up.
It’s an amazing step, and such a right step, to see the Bishops letter signed by 27 Anglican bishops, challenging the government on the horrible reality of poverty in our country. The letter starts; ‘Britain is the world’s seventh largest economy and yet people are going hungry’ before then mentioning ‘one in five mothers report regularly skipping meals to better feed their children’. That tugs a heart string … I have met some of those mothers in Gillingham High Street … mums that would love to work, but there are no jobs, mums that want the best for their children, and put themselves last.
‘There is an acute moral imperative to act’ is the challenge the bishops give … and indeed there is. The bishops are taking a great step by going public like this. Some will roll out the old saying of ‘church should keep out of politics’ (In fact that was tweeted to me only last week by a prospective MP candidate!) but that betrays a lack of understanding of the gospels, and in particular the political figure of Christ. Christ tells stories to illustrate that our role in society is to stand up for, and help, the poor and those in need … not to ignore, stay silent or walk by on the other side.
The letter comes as part of the End Hunger Fast campaign which headlines with more shocking figures … ‘half a million people used food banks last year … while 5500 were admitted to hospital for malnutrition’. The campaign calls for a national fasting day on April 4th as one way of showing the government we, as a nation, want to see change.
In addition Church Urban Fund has put together this guide to the welfare reforms which outlines the changes and the consequences of them.
The time has come for the government, for Cameron and Clegg in particular, to stand up, admit this is not working, and act …. as Bishop Steven Cottrell says: ‘it’s scandalous in our society that we should need a single food bank, yet along hundreds of them’.
Lets join and pray and act with the aim of never needing a food bank again!