Worshippers at the official church service for Conservative Party conference have been urged to reject Tory policies and follow Jesus’ example of siding with the poor.
Members of Christianity Uncut, a network of anti-capitalist Christians, handed out leaflets and food as an act of witness outside the service in Birmingham Christian Centre yesterday evening (7 October).
Many of the worshippers were delegates to the Conservative conference, including Education Secretary Michael Gove.
Christianity Uncut gave out leaflets declaring, "Jesus sided with the poor. Tories side with the super-rich." They offered delegates and other attenders pieces of bread to symbolise a sharing of the world’s resources. They prayed for all those involved.
Their placards declared "Christians for social justice", "Meet needs, not accounting goals" and "Disability Living Allowance: 0.5 per cent fraud, 20 per cent cuts".
The group report that most worshippers took the leaflets and some engaged in conversation although a few responded rudely to polite greetings. Several who were at the church for other reasons said that they agreed with Christianity Uncut's message.
“The key for me is about economic reform," said Birmingham Christian Errol Thompson, who was among those who joined the act of witness. "I’m coming at it from a Christian perspective."
He explained, "Take Matthew 20,1-16 – the parable of the labourers in the vineyard. It’s about meeting need rather than accounting for work done."
Christianity Uncut's leaflets pointed out that Jesus said he had come to "bring good news to the poor" and had led a protest in the Jerusalem Temple against economic exploitation.
They offered alternatives to the cuts, including saving billions through a crackdown on corporate tax dodging and the cancellation of plans to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system. They also suggested that Christians, and society as a whole, could put their faith in something other than money and markets.
“The whole banking system is designed to take money from the poor to the rich," said Thompson. "If you actually do the sums, there is no way, through charging interest, that the system can ever balance.”
The service was organised by the Conservative Christian Fellowship with the support of certain Birmingham churches.
Christianity Uncut is an informal network of Christians campaigning against the UK government’s cuts agenda and the injustices of capitalism.
The group was founded in 2011. During the eviction of Occupy London Stock Exchange, five members of Christianity Uncut were dragged by police from the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral as they knelt in prayer. It was later revealed that they were misled by the cathedral authorities about the cathedral’s role in the eviction.