Fox, Rowling and Lineker -
the art of campaign and the corrupting power of polarisation
We have seen it so much even in the last few weeks. A single sentence, often well- meaning, can lead to headline news, death threats, personal trauma and political turmoil. How should Christians and all people of conscience react in such matters? How can we encourage dialogue and negotiation where none currently exists? What can we do to draw the conversation into the centre ground, where majorities tend to congregate, and where agreements on detail can be made? This year, LDCF will launch a campaign to engage everyone in discussion within our tolerant and open Party, to discourage bullying on all sides and to take voter perceptions away from the few things we disagree on and towards our Party’s common goals and objectives. We will:
Publicise an open debate in May for members and non-members, following on from our AGM.
Work with the Equality, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion team to align our goals.
Engage with other organisations and individuals within the Party on this campaign.
Define a clear set of goals and objectives.
Propose a set of guidelines by which we can discern whether and when we
engage in or close a debate.
In all our efforts, we recognise the right of any individual in the Party to hold a view contrary to views held by the majority within the Party, if they in turn demonstrate sensitivity in how they discuss and campaign on that matter. Date to follow shortly.
The Good Friday Agreement 25 years on
Back in 1998, US Senator George Mitchell, Prime Ministers, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern & Northern Ireland (NI) political parties forged a pathway for the governing of Northern Ireland on a power sharing basis.
The role of the political leaders, especially David Trimble and John Hume, is well documented, that played by clergy and laity from different denominations is less well-known. During the violence of the late 1960’s to the 1990’s there was an increasing awareness that as religion was part of the problem, it needed to become part of the answer. Religious leaders became aware that prayers for peace in church and well meaning words condemning violent acts needed to be accompanied by actions. This meant meeting together for cross community services, attending the funeral services for the victims of violence, (not just for one’s own denomination) meeting political parties linked to paramilitary organisations and eventually the organisations themselves. These actions carried a risk from “one’s own side”. They stood accused of political and theological compromise from those who believed they should be showing unequivocal loyalty to particular political viewpoints rather than allowing them to be challenged by Biblical teaching. One clergyman acknowledged that a vast majority of the population would not actively take part in an act of violence, but there was a capacity to have some degree of sympathy for “one’s own side”. This view had to be challenged. An examination of thoughts, attitudes and motives on a continuous
prayerful basis was needed to bring a Christian perspective to the issues facing NI.
Once the GFA had been agreed by the politicians, the electorate in both NI and the RoI were given an opportunity to vote on its proposals. The only major party to oppose was the DUP who asserted that to vote “Yes” was morally wrong. In response, 150 Protestant clergy and 100 laity issued a document, “We’re Saying Yes”. It gained extensive coverage as it addressed head-on and biblically the DUP’s position. Some of the spokespersons and signatories were in fact victims of violence. This intensified the impact of the statement.
On May 22nd 1998, the agreement was backed by 95% in the RoI and by 71% in NI. Importantly, cross-community approval within NI was obtained as it was a key principle of the agreement as a whole.
Twenty five years later, despite all the negatives as well as the positive developments, the GFA is still with us. We need to see all three strands fully implemented. It has improved life on the island.
Spring Conference report back
It was so good to meet people again in person. I’d like to give a warm welcome to the people who joined LDCF for the first time at York. It’s good to have you onboard. As the conference is so short, we didn’t hold a fringe meeting but a number of us met together for a meal at Yemen Heaven on the Saturday evening.
Thank you to everyone who has joined us in praying for David's situation. The process is ongoing and we cannot give an update at this stage.
Continuing tech issues
We are so sorry if you have been trying to contact us. Our domain name expired last December and without the authority to renew it, we lost access to our emails. We haven't been ignoring you, we simply haven't received any emails for months. Added to that, the party has moved our website from Nationbuilder to Fleet. I've set up a new domain name - www.ldcf.org.uk - but I have to recreate the website completely from scratch and to make matters worse, the new email provider is yet to set us up on email so we still can't email anything out or receive emails via the website, hence the use of Mailchimp. Nor can new members join via the website as the website creators have yet to write the software that will allow that to happen. We were promised that our database of supporters would be transferred over the Fleet, but that hasn’t happened yet either, so if you know of someone who supports LDCF but hasn’t heard from us, please ask them to email me and I’ll add their email address to my new list. We're currently using Mailchimp so we can contact you. Hopefully a Mailjet account linked to our website will be up and running in the not too distant future.
We do have one working email address - email@example.com. Members are welcome to contact me using that address.