The United Reformed Church proudly supports the poorest and most marginalised, coming alongside and joining our voice with theirs. We never usurp their voice, never presume, never tell them what to think (nor what they already think…) – This coat we are proud to wear.
But, a recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that the UK’s poorest households were more likely to support leaving the European Union than the wealthiest, as were the unemployed, low-skilled and those feeling poorer or vulnerable to poverty. (https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/brexit-vote-explained-poverty-low-skills-and-lack-opportunities)
With deepening division and the paralysis of politics, is it time for the Church to speak alongside the poorest and give direction? Would this help restore faith in democracy and avert further harmful division? In view of the seemingly expressed wish of the UK’s poorest to leave the EU, is the Holy Spirit speaking in an unexpected way through the poor? Is God, thereby, calling the URC to do something radical and make a clear statement in their support and campaign accordingly? Are the poor even speaking with one voice? These are tough questions…
By leaving we step into the unknown but we do so by remaining: all outcomes are unclear. So we must go back to what is certain. The outcome of the Referendum is a fact, the need to order society on democratic principles is a given. Democracy cannot remain undamaged taking a course to placate the will of a minority over a majority. The legitimacy of all future democratic exercises will be threatened, sowing further seeds of instability and discord.
But in the interests of conciliation, should the URC call for a second Referendum, (say, 20 years after Brexit?), to include those previously excluded from the debate and enable reflection in the light of clearer understanding of whether Brexit has benefited us?
We may disagree but are our opinions of any account if God is calling us to speak out with the poor? Controversial, but this is “Christian Comment” – I am a Christian and I have commented!
Sometimes God’s wisdom lies in the unthinkable…discuss.
Rev Simon Copley, The Sheffield Team