Thursday, 29 April 2010

Westminster 2010 Declaration of Christian Conscience – Newsletter #2

Thank you again so much for signing the Westminster 2010 Declaration of Christian Conscience

Over 40,000 Christians have now signed and over 6,500 have become ‘Facebook fans’ in just over three weeks since its launch on 4 April (Easter Sunday).

The general election on 6 May is rapidly approaching and looks close. With over 6,000 churchgoers on average per constituency the Christian vote could be very significant indeed.

Westminster 2010 is not party political and we know that Christian voters will be weighing candidates and parties up on a range of issues that are important to them personally. Here are some resources that we think you will find helpful.

Resources to help you

1.Our candidates’ page where we grade candidates green, red or grey on conscience issues. Search on candidate, constituency or grade and read how we did it. Keep checking in as we are adding to this information all the time.

2.Our links page which gives links to a huge range of Christian election websites and resources.

3.How well do you know your MP? A blog article giving links to useful sites on the web to help you research your own MP’s real views and voting record.

4.We would also particularly recommend the Christian Institute’s excellent briefing on the parties and the issues.

How you can help us

1. Gather signatures – Please encourage Christians in your churches to sign the declaration. This Sunday is your last chance before the election! Sign up forms and posters can be printed easily from the homepage and a simple video explains what it is all about. Send them in to Westminster 2010, 8 Marshalsea Road, London SE1 1HL and help us get to 100,000 signatures!

2. Write to candidates - If you haven’t already done so, please write to your local candidates to ask them to take the pledge to 'respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience’. It is very easily done in moments via our candidates’ page.

3. Follow progress – Keep up via the website, become a fan on our Facebook page, join our Twitter feed or read our Blog.

4. Pray - that Westminster 2010 will make a positive difference through encouraging ordinary Christians to take a stand, helping them to vote wisely and through making all candidates aware of the importance of the Christian vote in a close-run election where it may, by God’s grace, prove decisive.

With thanks again for your support.

Warmly in Christ Jesus

Westminster 2010 Support Team

How we grade parliamentary candidates – Green, Red and Grey

We have over 2,000 candidates in 650 constituencies listed on the Westminster 2010 Candidates’ Page where you can search on candidate name or constituency and also generate lists of green, red and grey candidates

We make our assessments on the basis of past voting records on conscience issues, public statements and email responses

In short Green is Good; Red is not Good;
Grey is uncertain/unknown

More specifically we award one of the following five status codes to each candidate – all of which are logged on the website.

Green Tick – ‘has made the pledge’
These candidates have written to us (or a member of their constituency) and have specifically made the pledge to 'respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience'. We generally give candidates the benefit of any doubt in awarding a green tick unless we have past voting records, public statements or other statements in their emails which suggest otherwise.

Green Question Mark – ‘past record suggests supportive’
This group includes the following:
•MPs with good past parliamentary voting records on Christian conscience issues who we have not yet heard from
•Candidates who have written (to us or to constituents) who have not made the pledge in as many words but have in their emails otherwise indicated a commitment to respect the right to exercise Christian conscience
•Members of Christian parliamentary groups
•Candidates who make the pledge, with some amendments, but whose emails otherwise are supportive
•Candidates who have not written to us but who have made supportive public statements at hustings or to constituents
•Candidates who have sent us ‘cut and paste’ letters which although not making the pledge are otherwise generally supportive

Grey Question Mark – ‘Position unclear or unknown’
This group includes:
•MPs with ambiguous past voting records on Christian conscience issues regardless of whether or not they have made the pledge
•Candidates who have written us emails that leave their real position still in doubt
•Candidates about whom we still have no insufficient information to make any judgement

Red Question Mark – ‘past record suggests unsupportive’
This group includes:
•MPs with poor past parliamentary voting records on Christian conscience issues regardless of whether or not they have made the pledge
•Candidates who have written us emails that suggest they are not supportive
•Candidates who have not written to us but who have made unsupportive public statements at hustings or to constituents

Red Cross – ‘will not make pledge’
This group includes:
•MPs with poor past parliamentary voting records on Christian conscience issues who have written to us and have not made the pledge
•Candidates and MPs who have specifically refused to make the pledge
•Candidates who have written us (or constituents) in response to a direct request to make the pledge emails suggesting they are not supportive

In coming to our final assessment we will often have several email exchanges with a specific candidate and we are grateful for those who have taken the time to write to us with their views whether they support us or not

Monday, 26 April 2010

Liberal Democrat responses to the call to pledge to respect Christian conscience

We reported recently on replies from Conservative Party Candidates to requests to make the Westminster 2010 pledge to ‘respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience’

We are now receiving a set similar set of standard letters (with some personal variations) from Liberal Democrat candidates. From those who are happy to make the pledge the replies generally run along the following lines:

Thank you for writing to me and asking me to support the Westminster 2010 Declaration. I am very happy to support the candidate's pledge.

I believe passionately in an individual’s fundamental freedom of conscience and thus believe - in accordance with the European Convention of Human Rights - that religious individuals should have an absolute right to freedom of belief and the right to manifest their belief so long as it does not interfere disproportionately with the legitimate rights and freedoms of others, and subject to other limitations necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety and order. I believe that free religious speech should have protection and should not be limited simply because an individual may be offended.

Christians of all denominations play an important role in the rich tapestry of the United Kingdom and I hope they will continue to do so.

Candidates replying in the above manner are generally qualifying for the green tick (‘has made the pledge’) on our candidates' page unless they are MPs and have a past voting record which indicates that they are not actually supportive.

The European Convention of Human Rights is open to some interpretation in that the ‘absolute right to freedom of belief and the right to manifest their belief’ is balanced with the interference ‘disproportionately with the legitimate rights and freedoms of others’. The key issue is what happens when Christians holding orthodox Christian beliefs are judged to be ‘interfering disproportionately with the legitimate rights and freedoms of others’.

One of our principal concerns is that some recent legislation (eg. Aspects of the Equality Bill, homosexual orientation regulations, ‘homophobic hatred’ offence) have been used to force Christians to do things they believe are wrong with the threat of discipline or dismissal if they do not comply. Other legislation has been used to discriminate against Christians simply for manifesting normal Christian behaviour (eg expressing a view on an ethical issue, offering prayer, wearing a cross)

Free votes are traditionally offered for conscience issues in Parliament but it is left up to the party whips to decide what constitutes a conscience issue. We have as a result seen the government in the last few years not actually allowing free votes on what we believe are clearly issues of conscience (eg such as with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill). When no free vote is allowed on a conscience issue we expect MPs to vote according to their conscience, even if this involves defying the party whip.

Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat Leader has at best a questionable past voting record on issues of Christian conscience and in his letter to us has not agreed to make the pledge. He also appears not to have read our letter, which was not asking him to sign the Westminster Declaration itself but rather to make the pledge. His reply, which incorporates the standard Lib Dem response, reads as follows:

Thank you for writing to me and asking me to support the Westminster 2010 Declaration.

As set out in the European Convention on Human Rights, Liberal Democrats believe that religious individuals should have an absolute right to freedom of belief and the right to manifest their belief so long as it does not interfere disproportionately with the legitimate rights and freedoms of others, and subject to other limitations necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, public order etc. In particular we believe that free religious speech should have particular protection and not be limited just because someone might be offended.

We have awarded him a red cross – ‘will not make pledge’

A significant number of Lib Dem candidates have, unlike their leader, been very willing to make the pledge. They will need to show a lot of courage if elected as the party itself does not have a strong record on supporting legislation that respects Christian conscience.

The policies of all parties on controversial legislation has been reviewed in the Christian Institute’s recent Election Briefing and their MP database enables voters to check past voting records on key issues. The Election Briefing notes the following:

The Lib Dems firmly supported the Equality Bill and voted for narrowing employment protections for churches and religious organisations. They also argued that religion should not be included as a protected characteristic in the public sector equality duties.

They are against favouring marriage in the tax system and are the main party most supportive of gay rights, with Leader Nick Clegg being the only main party leader so far to advocate the legalisation of same-sex marriage as definitive party policy.

In 2002 the Lib Dems backed adoption by homosexual couples in England and Wales, and passed equivalent Scottish legislation in 2007 when coalition partners in the Scottish Executive. In Scotland the Lib Dems opposed protecting religious adoption agencies from being compelled to place children with same-sex couples, turning against their Labour coalition partners to oppose an exemption during the passage of the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Bill 2007.

They also strongly supported the Civil Partnership Act, Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs) and the Gender Recognition Act. It is also Lib Dem policy that every church school should lose its freedom to choose Christian staff, or to seek pupils who agree with the school’s ethos.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Major Westminster Hustings Event - 7pm, Monday 26 April

The ‘Christians and Candidates 2010’ initiative is hosting a special event THIS MONDAY (26th April) at Westminster at which a panel including senior representatives of the bigger political parties will answer questions from Christians like you about issues of concern.

During the evening members of the panel will be asked whether they and the parties that they represent will take the pledge to 'respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience’ as described on the Westminster 2010 declaration website.

It would be a wonderful testimony to the fact that Christians care deeply about our society and its future, if the auditorium (which seats 1000 people) were packed out – even at this short notice.

So, please support this important event, if you possibly can – and encourage other Christians to do the same.

THIS MONDAY – 26th April – 7pm (doors open 6.15pm)
Emmanuel Centre, 9 – 23 Marsham Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3DW

Advance registration is recommended but not required.

Questions need to be submitted in advance.

For more information, to register, to submit a question and to download a poster to display at church this Sunday, please visit:

Details of local events and resources for engaging with the election are also available at the website.

Facebook: To join the ‘Christians and Candidates’ group and see details of this event and others, please visit:

Christians and Candidates 2010
A national debate hosted by local churches

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Candidates are not being allowed to speak for themselves

There is an interesting article in the Scotsman today about leaders of the main political parties banning their candidates from signing up to the Westminster 2010 Declaration of Christian Conscience.

A spokeswoman for the Conservative Party has confirmed that candidates had been advised not to sign Westminster 2010 and a Labour Party spokesman claimed that the ban was part of a wider policy for candidates.

It is strangely ironic that the party whip seems to be already in force for candidates who are still seeking election and that they are apparently not being allowed to speak for themselves on matters of conscience for fear of incurring the wrath of party chiefs or the politically correct.

Over 100 candidates of all parties have however had the courage to defy the ban so far and have taken the pledge to ‘Respect, Uphold and Protect the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian Conscience’.

Others who have been unable to sign the pledge for whatever reason are being classified as ‘supportive’, ‘unsupportive’ or ‘unclear’ on the basis of past voting records, public statements or the substance of their replies.

The positions of all candidates are then displayed on the website to help Christian voters vote in an informed way. The site also carries links to many other resources on the internet which give information about candidates of interest to Christians.

If sitting MPs responses are at variance with their past voting records (and there have been a not insignificant number of these!) then we simply disregard their replies and judge them on the basis of how they have actually behaved. The past voting records of MPs on key issues raised in the declaration are readily accessible now in the public domain so if they are making false claims they are being immediately found out.

Some Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates are adding the standard proviso that they will only respect, uphold and protect rights that are recognised in law. This apparent unwillingness to stand up for human rights that are not actually recognised in law makes a nonsense of the pledge and will bring little comfort to many Christians who already feel discriminated against by recently passed legislation.

We have seen a gradual evolution in the cut-and-paste letters that we are receiving from Conservative candidates in particular who are apparently being instructed how to reply word for word by Conservative Central Office.

Christian candidates are replying to constituents as follows:

Holding my Christian faith is important to me. I know that as a Member of Parliament I will be asked to vote on a number of issues of conscience, on which you can be assured that I will be guided by my faith.

Our Christian heritage is integral to the United Kingdom; it is not possible to understand our history or society without knowledge of it, nor to appreciate today's society without respecting its values. If elected I hope to play my part in asserting these values which mean so much to you and me, which will certainly include freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom to associate.

In writing this they are skilfully side-stepping the issue of whether they will have the courage to defy the whip on issues of conscience where they are not granted a conscience vote by the party hierarchy.

Non-Christians are using the following slightly edited version

Many of the issues referred to in the declaration are 'free vote' issues meaning that MPs can decide personally how they wish to vote without involving party politics. I hold deep personal views about some of these issues, and others not included in the Declaration. I can assure you that, if elected, I will vote in accordance with my conscience and without thought for party advantage.

I believe that whatever our faith, we can be reminded of the great contribution Christianity has made in shaping the nature of our country, its humanity and essential decency. I recognise that many Christians feel that too often today faith isn’t treated with the respect it deserves. But, I believe faith can unquestionably be a force for good in our society and play a significant role in the future of our country. If I have the honour to serve as your next MP, I will continue to support and respect the importance of freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom to associate.

Again this is a commitment to do none other than follow the party whip and will not satisfy those who are concerned about the current government whipping discriminatory legislation or not allowing free votes on issues that are clearly matters of conscience.

Some candidates add extra personal notes but the standard stem remains more or less unchanged.

Party Leader David Cameron sent the following abbreviated version via one of his staff. On the basis of his past voting record we have given him the status ‘position unclear of unknown’.

Please let me assure you that we do understand your concerns on this issue. Britain is a largely Christian country with an established Church and David would not seek to change that. Our Christian heritage is integral to the United Kingdom; it is not possible to understand our history or society without knowledge of it, nor to appreciate today’s society without respecting its values. If re-elected, David hopes to play his part in asserting these values which will certainly include freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom to associate.

We have also developed a standard reply for conservative candidates taking the cut and paste option as follows:

I am writing on behalf of the Westminster 2010 Declaration recently featured recently as lead story on the BBC Election 2010 website

We understand that one of your constituents has written to you asking you to pledge that you will 'respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience’ and that you have sent them the standard cut and paste reply from Conservative Central Office.

When candidates are unwilling or unable to make the pledge we assess them on the basis of their past voting records, public statements or the substance of their replies.

On this basis we have assessed you as [INSERT STATUS] and this will be your status displayed on our website

Please do come back to us on this if you would like to discuss this further.

It's not about 'left' and 'right' but about right and wrong

Ask me who I am and I might answer European, British, English or even Mancunian – a follower of football is likely then to ask the ancillary question, “Which team, Manchester United or Manchester City”?

In a few weeks time the General Election will be fully upon us and the question of ‘who we are’ will be expressed in a political context. There is no doubt that our nation is in a desperate state both economically and morally. It is also clear that there are limits to what any Government is able to do create fundamental change. Lawmakers cannot legislate against sin nor evoke righteousness via a statute book.

What is certain however is that there has never been a time when it is more important for the Believer to cast their vote in accordance with their primary identity – not on the basis of class, political hue or traditional voting practices but as a committed Christian. We are first and foremost ‘citizens of heaven’ and live under the Lordship of Christ and the governance of God.

It is from that perspective that Christians place their cross in the ballot box. Christians are drawn from the widest cross-section of society and will have formed their own view on individual emphases that an incoming Government should address. However there has to be fundamental concerns that exist as common denominators to all Christian’s decision-making.

The three questions that we must surely ask ourselves as we approach the ballot box are, 'Is the candidate or political party who are looking to us for support likely to...'

• Discontinue the process of marginalisation of the Church in the UK and the aggressive secularisation of our society?
• Bring in legislation that enhances the status of the family as the core building block of society?
• Operate openly and with integrity when pursuing objectives of justice and care for the disadvantaged and marginalised?

What we cannot countenance is another four years of subservience to a secular Taliban that demands that we adjust what we believe, and how we express what we believe, according to their biased benchmark of political correctness.

When Peter and the Apostles were told to ‘tone down’ their message and adjust it to what the authorities deemed to be appropriate, God was very clear on the matter, “Go, stand in the temple courts and tell the people the full message of this new life.” It was a call to an unequivocal declaration of an uncompromised Gospel.

The furious politicians of the day retorted by saying, 'We gave you strict orders not to teach in this Name'. And when they did, Peter and the other apostles replied: 'We must obey God rather than men'!

I have always argued in the past, and continue to do so, that our approach to Government should in a spirit of grace. That does not mean that we should roll over whenever atheistic zealots feel that the Church should be attacked and dedicated teachers, social workers and other professionals are sacked because of their Christian faith. In Acts 5 the apostles faced imprisonment, torture and death for their stand. That does not obtain in this country but most certainly does in many other countries around the world.

The spiritual issue is not about ‘left ‘and ‘right’ but about right and wrong.

John Glass
General Superintendent
Elim Churches

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Westminster 2010 responds to Faithworks

Faithworks has recently launched an initiative aimed at ensuring that faith-based groups are given backing in their community work, rather than being treated with suspicion or discrimination.

The Faithworks 2010 Declaration, which supporters are urged to sign and which Founder, Steve Chalke, has promised to deliver ‘personally and publically’ to the ‘incoming Prime Minister’, calls on the latter to:

1.Recognise the important contribution that local churches and Christian charities have made historically, and can make in the coming years in providing services within local communities across the UK.

2.Acknowledge the indispensible role that faith in Christ plays in the motivation and effectiveness of welfare programs developed by churches and Christian charities.

3.Encourage and promote further initiatives and deeper partnership underpinned by legislation, which assess services based on best value and contribution to the whole community, without discriminating against the faith that is vital to the success of the work of churches and faith-based organisations.

Copies of Faithworks 2010 are available on the Faithworks website and Christians can either sign on line or print them out for churches to gather signatures and send in.

We welcome Faithworks 2010 as an important and timely project and encourage all Christians to consider signing the declaration.

We were somewhat puzzled and perplexed, however, to see Faithworks’ criticism of the Westminster 2010 Declaration in a press release on 7 April.

The statement begins by affirming ‘that participation in democracy is crucial, and welcomes initiatives that facilitate this’, a view we would heartily endorse.

However it then goes on to say that Faithworks ‘will not be signing the Westminster Declaration… because it suggests that government should be chosen according to their responses to only three issues – protection of human life, marriage and conscience’

This is a surprising misrepresentation of the purpose and content of Westminster 2010.

First, Westminster 2010 is not party political but rather calls on individuals ‘in positions of leadership, responsibility and influence to pledge to respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience’. Specifically it asks this question of individual parliamentary candidates in the upcoming general election.

Second, Westminster 2010, like the Faithworks Declaration, has a specific focus. It does not purport to be a Christian manifesto or a comprehensive statement of Christian doctrine, but rather deals explicitly with the growing problem of Christians facing discrimination, intimidation or even prosecution simply for expressing, or living according, to orthodox Christian beliefs. This discrimination is particularly, but by no means exclusively, evident in responses to Christian beliefs about human life, marriage and conscience. The fact that Christian community initiatives are sometimes either not supported or even intentionally opposed by government is actually echoed in Faithworks 2010.

Westminster 2010 certainly does not suggest, as Faithworks claims, that Christians should vote for a government that ‘protects embryos, upholds the uniqueness of heterosexual marriage and protects freedom to express Christian beliefs… without first examining their stance and policies regarding education, health care, welfare, poverty reduction, international development etc’

It does affirm that ‘Protecting human life, protecting marriage, and protecting freedom of conscience are foundational for creating and maintaining strong families, caring communities and a just society’, Christian sentiments with which we are sure that Faithworks would concur.

But in expanding this it specifically states that as Christians we take seriously our responsibility to ‘support, protect, and be advocates for children born and unborn, and all those who are sick, disabled, addicted, elderly, in single parent families, poor, exploited, trafficked, appropriately seeking asylum, threatened by environmental change, or exploited by unjust trade, aid or debt policies.’ Its scope is very broad, and encompasses a wide range of concerns shared by those on both sides of the political spectrum. It is fact far broader in its scope than Faithworks 2010.

Faithworks accusation that Westminster 2010 ‘sets Christians up on a moral high ground and implicitly creates divisiveness’ is both untrue and unfair. It is rather realistic about the fact that just as many did not welcome Jesus Christ in the first century, not all will welcome his teaching or those who follow him today. Implicit in Westminster 2010’s statement of faith is the belief that as human beings we are continually in need of God’s forgiveness and power to live in a way that honours him. It is a call to involvement in the world, but without moral compromise.

Likewise Faithworks’ implicit claim that Westminster 2010’s signatories have a theology which is ‘imposing’ rather than ‘inclusive’ and serve others in a ‘discriminating’ way are charges not borne out by the evidence. The Christian theology in Westminster 2010 is orthodox and its signatories are affirming their commitment, by God’s grace, to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ and to love and serve others.

Westminster 2010 joins Faithworks 2010 in affirming social action, the responsibility of Christians to serve our communities by caring for the vulnerable. However it also seeks to emphasise our complementary commitments to Christian doctrine, ethics and justice.

We are sure that the authors of Faithworks 2010 would be the first to agree that we must not reduce Christian responsibility purely to social action. Being faithful to Christ also includes making disciples, voting according to Christian conscience, standing for justice, seeking just and fair legislation and most importantly proclaiming the Christian message of forgiveness and eternal life through repentance and faith in Christ’s death and resurrection on our behalf.

Social action is an important, indeed crucial, Christian responsibility. But it is not the only one. We must be equally committed to fulfilling these other Christian callings – realising that, although they may not win us the same level of popularity as our good works, they are nonetheless equally part of being Jesus’ disciples.

We hope that Christians will in fact support both Westminster 2010 and Faithworks 2010 and be able to rejoice in their different yet complementary aims. We would encourage every Christian, in good conscience, to consider signing both.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

How well do you know your own MP?

Westminster2010 is not Party Political but we are encouraging Christians both to exercise their responsibility to vote (only 61% of those eligible to vote in 2005 actually did so) and also to vote for the best candidate in their constituency.

If you choose to vote tactically (ie. for the best candidate who has a real chance of being elected) then the choice is very simple. In most constituencies there are only two people capable of winning – the sitting MP and their nearest rival. In some constituencies there will be a three horse race.

If you want to find out about your own constituency and who is standing then a great place to start is the BBC’s Election 2010 page

This gives you the major news stories and also tells you where the major parties of the day stand on all the main issues – health, education, crime, defence, the economy etc

If you enter your postcode it will take you to your own constituency page with information about the main local issues, candidates and past voting records.

There is also a useful graph showing you how the parties stood in your constituency in 2005 allowing even for subsequent boundary changes.

The key question then is ‘do you vote for your sitting MP (if they are standing again) or for the rival with the best chance of beating them?’ If your current MP is standing down then you will also need to find out about who is standing in their place.

To answer the key question you will need to know about your own MP’s past voting record. Two Christian sites Christian Institute and Christians and Candidates have already done a lot of the hard work for you logging how your MP has voted in the past and grading each vote good or bad. These sites are a great place to start.

However the most comprehensive resource on your MP is the website They Work for You. If you insert your postcode here it will take you to a page dedicated entirely to your MP with links to past voting records, personal profile, their Wikipedia page, personal page and much more. A half hours browse on the links here will give you a very comprehensive idea of who they are and what they stand for.

Other really useful sites are:

1.Your Next MP - brief profiles on all constituencies and candidates
2.BBC Democracy Live - more information on your own MP
3.The Public Whip - MPs complete voting records

Then finally there is our own Westminster 2010 candidates page where we are logging whether or not MPs are willing to pledge that they will 'respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience’

Make the best of all this information and ensure that you sure you vote wisely and responsibly this year.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Tactical voting in marginal seats

A marginal seat is a parliamentary constituency held with a particularly small majority that could potentially change hands at an election. These seats require only a small swing to change hands and therefore are typically the focus of intense election campaigning by any party that stands a good chance of winning.

The outcome of the UK general election on 6 May will be determined by what happens in the marginals.

Currently about 90 of the 646 seats in parliament are held by a majority of 2,000 votes or less - so theoretically each of them could change hands if only 1,000 people changed their vote from supporting the current MP to supporting their nearest rival. There are many more seats where the majority is less than 4,000 and just 2,000 people could make all the differnce in deciding whether a current MP stays or goes.

There are currently about 4 million regular church-goers in Britain, on average over 6,000 per parliamentary consituency. Although Christians make up a minority of the total voting population they nonetheless have potential to make a real difference in marginal seats.

If you don't know what your current parliamentary constituency is, who is standing for parliament there and where they stand on the Westminster Declaration and other Christian concerns you can find out the current state of play along with useful links on the Westminster2010 website.

You can also email your local candidates directly from the site to ask where they stand on various issues.

A tactical vote to support a candidate with a good chance of winning who is sympathetic to Christian beliefs and values could make a real difference to how parliament shapes laws over the next five years.

UK debt – the worst since the 1960s

In the 20th century the UK government has increased the National Debt to fight wars and to mitigate economic troubles.

At the beginning of the 20th century in 1900 the National Debt stood at a very manageable 30 percent of GDP and dipped to 25 percent of GDP by 1914 despite the intervening Boer War.

But World War I caused an explosion in the National Debt up to 135 percent of GDP in 1919. Then, in the economic troubles of the 1920s it rose to 181 percent in 1923 and stayed above 150 percent of GDP until 1937.

The National Debt dipped to 110 percent of GDP in 1940 before soaring to 238 percent of GDP after the close of World War II in 1947.

After World War II the National Debt was slowly reduced down as low as 25 percent of GDP in 1992. Thereafter it fluctuated in the 30s and 40s until the financial crisis of 2008.

In the calendar year 2009 the UK recorded a general government deficit of £159.2 billion, which was equivalent to 11.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). At the end of December 2009 general government debt was £950.4 billion, equivalent to 68.1 per cent of GDP.

The National Debt is expected to exceed 100 percent of GDP in the aftermath of the crisis.

The Maastricht Treaty's Excessive Deficit Procedure sets deficit and debt targets of 3 per cent and 60 per cent respectively for all EU countries.

Our deficit and debt are now at seriously high levels and getting even higher.

Welcome to Westminster 2010

Westminster 2010 is a declaration that is designed to appeal to UK Christians of all denominations who subscribe to the historic Christian faith and who hold orthodox beliefs about life, marriage and conscience.

It has been launched in the lead up to the UK general election on 6 May 2010 with individual Christians being invited to sign.

We call on all parliamentary candidates to pledge that they will 'respect, support and uphold the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience'.