For the most part, Churches were not particularly vocal in the campaigns towards the UK referendum on membership of the European Union. Traditionally, it has been frowned upon for Churches and religious bodies to make categorical pronouncements on political matters. Many people feel that it is out of place for religious leaders to lend their weight of influence to political campaigns, or to attempt to persuade voters in any direction. While this may be the more pragmatic approach, the result is that for such political issues of immense consequence, Churches often make comments after the fact. The consequences of remaining in or leaving the EU have been dramatically discussed in the media, with references to the economy, security, immigration, the NHS, research and academia, and welfare benefits, among other issues. However, the consequences of the referendum for the Church were sparsely mentioned. The few times such articles were publicised, they seemed to have approached the subject from a handful of denominational perspectives, as is sometimes the case with issues in Christendom.

This article does not attempt to argue either for or against the Brexit Campaign. All the same, the silence of various Churches during the referendum did not necessarily mean that they were ambivalent or apathetic about the outcome. Several issues may have caused concern among British Churches, some of which have their roots in inter-Church partnerships, and in apocalyptic concerns.

Firstly, several Churches across Europe have shared history, and still maintain administrative, theological and academic partnerships. The Catholic Church, the Church of England, Non-denominational, Protestant and Pentecostal Churches have established extensive outreaches across Europe from historical times, as well as in recent times. Now that the UK has voted to leave the EU, people and organisations may be concerned about the practicality of continued continental partnerships in the face of possible visa restrictions, and a changing financial landscape. There are also palpable concerns for the parishioners in these cross-cultural Churches. Bishop of the Church of England Diocese in Europe, Rt Revd. Dr. Robert Innes, wrote this:

I have particular concerns for the people of my diocese, many of whom are British expatriates living on the European continent. They will be worried about health care, employment rights and pensions in the coming months and years…. I do plead that both British and EU diplomats will take heed to the situation of those living oversees (whether in Britain or on the continent), who will be feeling especially vulnerable at the moment.*

Then, there is the matter of Church finances and investment schemes, some portfolios for which may be held with or linked to European finance institutions. Even for portfolios held in British financial institutions, the aftermath of the Brexit vote appears to have come with significant financial concerns; the values of both Sterling and Euro have dropped and fluctuated in relation to the Dollar. It should not be presumed that Churches do not have legitimate financial concerns, because there are Churches with large congregations, extensive operations and numerous staff, for whom project finances and pension schemes are a major concern.

Thirdly, there have been comments floating around cyber-space and social conversations about an EU agenda that may hasten the apocalypse. A Pastor in Cambridgeshire argued that voting to remain would strengthen the EU as an empire, and asserted that God detests empires. This view has been expressed by some as a precursor of the apocalypse, and some Christians are now wary of strong international cooperation agreements. Whether or not this concern is Biblical, the question about the era of the Church in which such events may occur will require detailed Bible study in a different article. Nevertheless, the Bible is clear on other signs of the end times, such as moral decadence in society, war, and natural disasters. The Bible is also clear about no one knowing the day or hour of Christ’s return. Despite our concerns, Christian Brits cannot slow down or speed up the coming of the Biblical “end of the age” by enforcing or abolishing Brexit.

All these issues notwithstanding, what is the position of faith in times such as these?

  1. Either way, we win! Romans 8:28 tells us that in all things (Remaining in, or leaving the EU) God works for the good of those who love Him and are called, according to His purpose. Even if economic challenges arise as a result of leaving the EU, even if there are periods of uncertainty, His Word tells us to “be of good cheer!” Jesus has overcome, and in Him we are secure and protected.
  2. Our well-being is dependent on God’s Grace and kindness, and is not determined by statistics and economic forecasts. The Bible tells us that Isaac sowed and reaped in a season of famine… that was a recession!
  3. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and of a sound mind. Therefore, the end of the world should not frighten us. Those who believe in Jesus have received eternal life, and will meet the Lord in the Rapture. The bottom line is that the world is not our home; while we live here, we make the most of our opportunities and share the love of Jesus with those around us. Whether we are British or European, when the Lord returns, the only passport we will need is faith in Jesus.
  4. WE MUST VOTE! And before voting, we must find information about what is really at stake. On 12th December 2019, the General Elections will give us an opportunity to make a statement on issues like Brexit, the NHS and urgent climate concerns. This is a challenge to believers: get informed, and vote accordingly!

By Mary W Gani

December 2019


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