Faith and the Future of Labour

On Tuesday 6 September, Christians on the Left co-hosted an event 'Faith and the Future of the Labour Party', bringing together representatives from faith communities supporting Labour as well as leadership candidates Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith. The following text is a transcript of the speech made by Njoki Mahiaini, a committed member of our executive and our speaker on stage. See her introducing the live stream of the event here.

Njoki speaks to a packed and attentive audience

"Faith. It's not a subject we, as a movement often discuss but, given that millions of Brits practise a faith, and of those, a majority vote, perhaps it's time we did. First though, we need to accept that putting faith before faction is not political heresy.

"For example, I am a member of Christians on the Left. I am a Christian. I'm on the Left, and for me it’s very much in that order.

"Please don’t misunderstand me. I am a committed Labour supporter. I love this party and have served it as a member for a decade. And it may not be the same for others who profess faith but for me at least, my identity as a Labour Party member is built upon an even deeper identity as a Christian.

"Our party’s roots in faith, particularly Christianity, provided the moral basis for our present day commitments to human rights, inclusivity and poverty alleviation. Yet I fear that some of us now see talk of moral responsibility as amoral in itself.

"From Tawney to Hardie to the influence of Catholic social teaching, we must be loath to unpick the Christian thread woven through our party's history. Nor should we squeeze out more conservative voices who believe there is still a debate to be had on questions of life and liberty. If there's anything the general election or Brexit should teach us it's that we must seek to remain a broad church.

"You see it's not that people of faith are just decent folk wanting to do their bit. No. Their religions call them to act for, as the Bible puts it: “Faith without deeds is dead.”

Faith in LabourFaith in Labour

"So of course, faith is personal but in order for it to be a force for good its outworking must be inter-personal.

"As a party this means actively recognising the immense cultural capital generated by the language classes, befriending projects, holiday clubs, parent-toddler groups, community choirs, youth groups and numerous other initiatives run for free and with a cheerful heart by faith groups week in, week out, all year.

"It means campaigning on what unites us. The common ground which crosses factions and faiths is what we as a party must cultivate and in doing so demonstrate what it means to disagree well.

"It’s a time of enormous upheaval for our party but I am convinced that faith communities, practised in cooperation despite internal disagreement, can be among our closest allies as we take on whatever chaos or glory lies ahead.

"After all, at our best we are families of faith in which genuine differences may be held in tension with the common truths to which we cling. And I think we can all agree that that is the kind of family that we hope and pray that the Labour Party will be."

 

A full video of Faith and the Future of the Labour Party is available on our Facebook page.

 

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