It came as somewhat of a great shock to many who awoke to the news on Friday, 24th June that a small majority of people within the British Isles had indeed voted in favour of leaving the European Union. Consequently the past week has been pretty stormy to say the least right across the political, financial and social sectors. Those who were disappointed with the result have expressed their feelings in terms of anger, sadness and despair and a petition was started on line in an attempt to secure a second referendum. At the same time many unfortunate insinuations have been made about the way in which the campaign was conducted with both sides claiming that seeds of fear and uncertainty had been planted in people’s minds. Subsequently, a barrage of legal and constitutional questions relating to the result have been unleashed which have only served to create further uncertainty.
The political fall-out from this has been astonishing. The Prime Minister has announced his intention to resign, the Parliamentary Labour Party has declared a vote of no confidence in its Leader whilst the First Minister of Scotland has already travelled to Brussels to engage in discussions with leaders there so as to secure Scotland’s place within the European Union. At this stage we are unsure how Wales will fare over the coming months but we very much hope that the First Minister of Wales along with our Assembly Members will do their utmost to protect the interests of our country.
But what does the Church have to say about this?
Several statements have been issued by various denominations and bodies including that which was issued by the Reverend Tony Peck, the General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation. In his opening paragraph Tony states: I believe our nation has taken a turn away from values of generosity, hospitality, interconnectedness, neighbourliness and solidarity towards the wider world. For me these are profoundly Gospel values and also at the heart of our Baptist identity. The full statement can be read at http://www.ebf.org/the-result-of-the-referendum-on-uk-membership-of-the-european-union
It is a difficult situation and one which is a cause of great concern for our future. Having said that we must respect the outcome of the vote and recognise that a higher than usual percentage of the population in Wales – 71.7% – turned out to vote. The turnout was much higher than seen in any recent election or referendum. It is regrettable however that the remainder of the population did not use their vote.
Whilst we naturally treasure and fiercely guard our right and freedom to vote in according with our own personal views, we hope that we can at least agree and be united on one matter. We need to speak out against the increase that has been witnessed recently in the anti-social behaviour directed towards our brothers and sisters on the basis of race, language and religion. It has been a source of sadness and shame to read about such reports following the result of the referendum and barely a week after the murder of the committed and vivacious MP, Jo Cox. As citizens, we hope that we will be able to withstand such hatred which is in direct contradiction to our values and principles as Christians.
The political storm will doubtless continue for some time to come, possibly years. In the meantime we give thanks that we are able to turn to the One who seeks to ground us in goodness, honesty and purity. He too is the One who calms the storm, quietens our fears and who steers us safely along the complex and intricate paths of our world today.
1 July 2016
We give thanks to you, our Lord God and Father for Wales and for our democracy. Thank you for the right to vote and to be able to campaign openly for our convictions. Help us to respect each other’s viewpoints and to live in a spirit of understanding, tolerance and love.
We pray for the countries of the British Isles and all countries within the European Union. May we know of Your strength and divine grace.
We pray especially for our politicians during this time of crisis. May they know of Your guidance and wisdom as they respond to the result of the Referendum and enable them to work together in a constructive and collaborative spirit.
Forgive us our sins and our lack of trust in You.
May everything that we do bring glory and praise to Your name.
We ask this in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.