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Monday, 14 April 2008

Churches choosy over London hustings

Religious types can be a bit picky when it comes to whom they invite to their hustings prior to the London mayoral election.

According to the ever-helpful religious think tank Ekklesia, of the six minority candidates standing, only one has been invited to the hustings event, being organised by the churches in central London. And that single minority candidate is – you guessed it – a Christian, standing on a Christian ticket.

"The event, at St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Trafalgar Square, is being sponsored by the Evangelical Alliance and Premier Christian Radio," says the Ekklesia story.

Hundreds of London churches, across traditions and denominations, have been invited to attend. However, according to a press release issued by the Evangelical Alliance, of the ten candidates standing for London mayor, only the four main candidates, plus the one minority candidate standing on an explicitly Christian ticket, have been asked to answer questions.

Labour candidate Ken Livingstone, Conservative Boris Johnson, Liberal Democrat candidate Brian Paddick, and Sian Berry of the Green Party, whose parties all have seats on the London Assembly, will come to the event. But, according to the press release, of the other minority parties only Alan Craig from Christian Choice has been sent an invitation. Gerard Batten (UKIP) Lindsey German (Left List party) Matt O'Connor (English Democrats) Richard Barnbrook (BNP) and Winston McKenzie (Independent) have not been invited.

Nick Holtam, vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, is quoted as saying, “Christians are at the heart of every community in London. They can see first-hand, through the work they do in churches and on the streets, the impact of mayoral policy on everything from the environment to young people and the poor.

“So the candidates can expect some challenging and exciting questions on Wednesday as these citizens consider who to trust with our city.”

Christians are at the heart of every community? The Muslim community? The Sikh community? The Jewish community? Not to mention communities that don't have any truck with religion?

The event is on Wednesday of next week, 23 April, from 6 p.m., with the doors opening an hour earlier.

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