Headlines: April 21st, 2008

The leaders of churches in the Black Country are calling on local people to make sure they vote in May’s local elections. Black Country Churches Engaged, which wants people to see voting as a responsibility as well as a right, has also issued a list of questions it wants voters to think about.

Monsignor Patrick McKinney, who chairs the group, said, “It is our hope that people will value our democratic way, and we urge them to exercise their right to vote.” The churches also want to ensure voters make an informed choice and select the best candidates. John Howard, who chairs the Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury District of the Methodist Church, added, “We believe these elections give people the opportunity to express their views as to the best way forward locally. Choosing politicians who bring the community together and whose vision is one of hope for the future is a Christian choice.”

The church leaders will be in Wolverhampton city centre this afternoon to highlight their campaign and to draw attention to the list of questions they have drawn up. The questions are designed, they say, to encourage people to check candidates’ views on the value of other human beings and whether they will work for the common good rather than just one group.

The Church leaders say they are responding to concerns that a growing mood of cynicism means more people are opting out of voting. The Anglican Bishop of Wolverhampton, Clive Gregory, said, “We are encouraging churchgoers and others to put their confidence and their cross against the right candidates in our local elections.”