Christian MPs 'overwhelming' support for Iraq war

 An analysis by the theological think-tank Ekklesia has found today that MPs who profess a Christian faith turned out in overwhelming numbers last night to vote in favour of military action against Iraq. Looking at the membership of groupings within the main political parties including the Conservative Christian Fellowship (based at Conservative Central Office) the Christian Socialist Movement, and the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum, as well as public statements about faith from MPs, Ekklesia has found that Christians from a range of church traditions and backgrounds went through the lobbies to support the government and vote against the amendment, which suggested that the case for war had not yet been established in the absence of specific UN authorisation. Although the amendment against war was tabled by a member of the Christian Socialist Movement (CSM) former minister Chris Smith, only seven out of the 35 MPs who belong to CSM - David Drew, Win Griffiths, John Grogan, Martyn Jones, Peter Pike, Kerry Pollard and David Taylor - voted to support it. The rest either voted against or abstained. Many prominent Catholics from across the parties also voted with the government, despite the Pope's outspoken opposition to war. They included David Amess, Julian Brazier and Ann Widdecombe. Other well known "Pro-lifers" were out in great numbers too, expressing support for war, including Ann Winterton and her husband Nicholas. Even amongst the cross-party prayer group of six MPs, nicknamed the 'G6', most were in favour of military action. The group which began to meet in 1997 is made up of two Labour, two Conservatives, one Liberal Democrat and one Ulster Unionist MP. These MPs would generally place themselves within the "Evangelical" tradition. Evangelicals however were no exception as they went through the lobbies. Evangelicals voting with the government included Alistair Burt, Andrew Selous, Gary Streeter, Stephen Timms, Caroline Spelman, and Ulster Unionist Jeffrey Donaldson. The fact that so many Christians voted with the government on what was seen as an issue of conscience, will put them at odds with many church leaders and undoubtedly raise questions about the recent efforts of the Christian groupings in Parliament to 'listen to' and 'represent' the churches. THE MOTION: Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and long-range missiles pose a threat to international peace; Iraq has not co- operated "actively, unconditionally and immediately" with the weapons inspectors and has rejected the final opportunity to comply; the UK seeks a new UN Security Council resolution on the rebuilding of Iraq, and welcomes the imminent publication of a road-map toward a "just and lasting peace settlement" for Israel. THE AMENDMENT: The case for war against Iraq has not yet been established, especially given the absence of specific UN authorisation; but total support will be given to British forces if hostilities do commence.

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