We’re working with churches across the UK to share visions of a Good Society – first at events on Church Action on Poverty Sunday, and then by holding General Election hustings events based on the churches’ Vision of a Good Society.
By sharing our own vision, we hope churches can challenge politicians to talk more about their own positive visions, and less about short-term problems and negative issues. So we’ve asked Christian politicians and candidates of all parties to share their reactions to our 2020 Vision of the Good Society, and talk about their own aspirations.
To avoid any bias in our presentation, we’ve selected the order of these guest blogs at random. This first one is by John Glen, Conservative MP for Salisbury.
A Good Society is a society which has strong roots in the family. Families are the nucleus of a society and need to be our primary focus in building a good society.
Stable families are indispensable to a good society. Eighty nine per cent of people agree that “if we have any hope of mending our broken society, family and parenting is where we’ve got to start.” Churches Together are correct in highlighting the importance of focusing on the poor in their work in “2020 Vision: The Good Society and the General Election.” However, it is important to recognise that relational poverty is one of the primary causes of material poverty. Family breakdown is not only a result of poverty, but can itself cause and entrench poverty. In focusing on the poorest when building a good society, strengthening and supporting family life must be a key priority.
Whilst the economic recovery has been welcome and the creation of 2.2 million new jobs since 2010 has undoubtedly helped, it is not enough. Pressures on housing costs, energy prices and the cost of food continue to worry many households. Family is the key to support in difficult times. In August 2014, the Prime Minister said in a speech that “whatever the social issue we want to grasp – the answer should always begin with family.” The Prime Minister is correct. Families are crucial to building both financial
and social capital as well as increasing long-term wellbeing. However, it is important we do not fall into the trap of seeing families as individual and isolated groups but as vital cells within the wider body of society. A strong society is made up of strong families, all supporting their own and others.
I believe the Church, as an institution, has a key part to play in this. The Church at its heart is a community. One of the first decisions made by the early Church was to allocate members to support the most vulnerable in their community. This is where the role of the Church must be. The Church must act to constantly draw attention back to the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. This should be done by continuing to demonstrate care for the poor and vulnerable as well as acting as a critique of society and Government where it fails to do the same. It should draw our attention back to those at the bottom both in its words and its actions, reminding us that the priority must always lie with the poorest
and most vulnerable.