By Christians for Europe conveners – Sarah Dickson and Michael Sadgrove
This is the day we hoped and prayed would never dawn.
But it has. The UK has voted to leave the European Union. After months of debate, the voters have decided. And even it’s by a narrow margin, so narrow that only 52% of the eligible adult population are behind a Brexit, that’s the outcome. To say we are disappointed doesn’t begin to express it. But a vote is a vote. We respect it.
There will be much to reflect on in the days ahead. There will be post-mortems. Why didn’t we Remainers succeed in making our case for EU membership? Why did the nation fall for the self-interested inward-looking arguments of the Leave campaign? Why did our national politics become so divisive?
And more important, there will be big questions about the uncertain future that now lies ahead. What will the future of the EU be? Will the UK’s Union hold together or will Scotland go its own way? How do we reconfigure our trading relationships with the EU and the rest of the world? We suddenly find ourselves in a strange Brexit-land where there are no landmarks and no map. The next few months and years could be turbulent not only for the UK but for Europe and the world.
How should we as pro-EU people of faith respond?
During the campaign, “Christians for Europe” has tried to help frame the referendum as a matter not simply of pragmatic politics (“what’s best for Britain”) but also of social ethics and a theology of society. We’ve emphasised the central tenets of our faith: loving our neighbour, standing in solidarity with the disadvantaged, seeking the common good, promoting life together rather than apart. We’ve wanted to argue that the European project is based on a fundamentally Christian vision of nationhood and common life.
All this still stands. So even if, to our immense sadness, the UK will soon be walking away from the EU, it mustn’t stop us from being good Europeans who will continue to work closely with the peoples of our continent who are our natural allies and friends. We must go on taking a global view of our place in the world and not draw in our horizons as if we were some insignificant offshore island. We must continue to work away at trying to create a more wholesome politics of respect and compassion both internationally and in our own country.
In that spirit we shall go on seeking the welfare of the human family and playing our part as good citizens of our nation and our world. That will involve the healing of the divisions that opened up during the Referendum campaign, and we are committed to this too in both word and action. And it goes without saying: we must now, more than ever, say our prayers.
The Christian gospel of Jesus’s death and resurrection makes us people of hope. We do not lose heart.