A survey of evangelical Christians has revealed that nearly double the national average intend to vote in this year’s general election. Four in 10 say they will change their vote from 2010. The government parties have lost significant support while smaller parties and Labour gained.
The Faith in Politics? report follows a survey of 2,020 evangelical Christians, conducted by the Evangelical Alliance between August and September 2014. It shows many concerns ranging from the credibility of politicians to the issues that they think political parties should be pursuing for the common good of society, particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable.
There are an estimated two million evangelical Christians in the UK and the Evangelical Alliance draws together evangelicals from across 79 denominations.
The major findings are:
- 94 per cent say they are “certain” or “likely” to vote (80 per cent certain, 14 per cent likely), however 24 per cent are undecided which way they will vote.
- Poverty and inequality is the single most important issue for evangelicals. Some 32 per cent ranked it top whereas only four per cent of the population says it is the most important issue facing the UK (Ipsos Mori Aug 2014). Race and immigration, which is the most important issue for over a fifth of the UK population, was only chosen by six per cent of evangelicals.
- Less than one in 10 (six per cent) think that politicians can be trusted to keep their manifesto promises.
- Half of the respondents say they are less likely to believe what a politician says today than five years ago.
- Evangelicals are seven times more likely than the national population to have contacted a politician or taken part in a public consultation and 14 times more likely to have taken an active part in a campaign.
- Comparing how evangelicals voted in 2010 and how they intend to vote today, there has been a fivefold increase in support for both UKIP and The Green Party. Support for the Conservatives declined by nearly a third, while the Liberal Democrats lost over half of their support. The Labour Party now has the highest level of support, backed by 31 per cent of evangelicals.
- Policies that ensure religious liberty and freedom of expression (71 per cent)
- Policies that are likely to make a positive difference to the poorest people in the UK (61 per cent)
- Policies to eliminate human trafficking (59 per cent)
- Opposition to same-sex marriage legislation (46 per cent)
- A pro-life stance on euthanasia (45 per cent)
Dr Dave Landrum, advocacy director at the Evangelical Alliance, said:
“Evangelical Christians are passionate about politics that works for the good of all of society, and when it comes to voting they’re not going to be backing the party which just benefits themselves the most.
“The issues that concern evangelicals are quite different from the issues that concern the general public. Evangelicals care far more about poverty than immigration. With around two million across the UK this is a section of society that the politicians cannot ignore. No party has this vote in their pocket and there are aspects of all parties that attract as well as deter evangelical voters.
“The high level of engagement contrasts with a high degree of distrust in politicians and their promises. Many commented that the redefinition of marriage had badly damaged their view of politics. It’s time for politicians to rebuild trust with all voters, but in the coming months evangelical voters are likely to be wary of grand promises made by any of the political parties.”