Church of England Calls on God to Help ‘Brexit’ Voters
Steven Erlanger, NYT, Apr 26 2016
LONDON — Those who favour a British exit from the European Union now fear that God, or one of His representatives on earth, is not on their side. On Tuesday, the Church of England released a short “prayer for the EU referendum campaign” that it said was intended “for use by churches and individuals ahead of the vote on Jun 23.” The prayer, urging honesty, openness and generosity, asks God to imbue voters with “discernment” so that “our nation may prosper and that, with all the peoples of Europe, we may work for peace and the common good.” The prayer was seen by some as a sign that the Church of England, whose supreme governor is of course QE2, was joining with Obama to side with those who want Britain to remain a member of the EU. Peter Bone, a Conservative legislator who is strongly in favor of a British exit, or “Brexit,” said it was “outrageous” for the church to seem to take a position. He told The Daily Mail:
This is politics, and should be nothing to do with the church. I would have thought that God was rather neutral on this issue.
A C of E spox said in a telephone interview that the church was not taking sides in the debate, and that the prayer was not intended to push voters one way or the other. The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, last month said that the church would stay neutral. He said that Britons had a “genuine fear” about immigration and that “it is really important that that fear is listened to and addressed.” But as for the vote he said, “You can’t say, ‘God says you must vote this way or that way.’” According to Christian Today, an online news agency, Adrian Hilton of the group Christians for Britain said the church had cast the decision in the context of a greater European identity. Dr. Hilton was quoted as saying:
This shifts the narrative of debate from the narrow one of EU membership to that of European identity. You clearly don’t have to be in the EU to work for peace and the common good of all Europe.
Michael Sadgrove of the group Christians for Europe said (damningly – RB):
It is a prayer we can all pray with integrity as we seek the wisdom of God.
The prayer, in full, reads:
God of truth, Give us grace to debate the issues in this referendum with honesty and openness. Give generosity to those who seek to form opinion and discernment to those who vote, that our nation may prosper and that, with all the peoples of Europe, we may work for peace and the common good; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.