Christian Action, Research and Education (CARE) is an organization I have been aware of for some time, which I support (as does the church to which I belong), mindful of its many detractors, and along with the likes of Christian Concern and Christian Institute, what it does, especially through its briefings, helps to inform my work as a Christian Community Activist, engaging as fully as I am allowed in the market place of ideas in an often Christian antipathetic culture, and trying to apply the “love thy neighbor” imperative as best I can, where I find the opportunities to do so, are nigh unlimited.
“CARE seeks to uphold human dignity and to support the most vulnerable people in society, engaging with politicians in the UK Parliaments & Assemblies in its advocacy work. Supported by individuals and churches throughout the UK, CARE encourages Christians to be informed and to engage positively in public life; addressing issues relating to the sanctity of life, human exploitation, marriage and family and many other areas of advocacy.
Our Vision: to see a society that has a greater regard for human dignity and increasingly reflects God’s grace and truth through public policy, media and local practical involvement with vulnerable people.
Our Purpose: to be engaged in the UK Parliaments & Assemblies and to equip individual Christians and the churches to act as effective ‘light and salt’ in the local community and nationally.
How we do this:
- Providing clear information about important current social and moral concerns about public policy, education and the community.
- Encouraging informed prayer for issues throughout society
- Helping people to recognise the dignity and worth of every individual – from fertilisation to life’s natural end.
- Inspiring and helping Christians to be actively involved in the democratic process, where there is great need for truth and justice.
- Continuing to develop the post-graduate CARE Leadership Programme
- Promoting community-based initiatives that live out Christ’s love and truth.”
It seems strange I should be writing about CARE now, when only a few days ago I blogged about Mary Whitehouse. For it was she who was one of the leading lights behind the setting up of the Nationwide Festival of Light in 1971, and CARE was born out of this. But having been persuaded by my pastor that it would be a good idea for me to attend a CARE presentation at the Roslyn Hotel, Southend, I decided this was an opportunity I should not pass over. It happened that four of CARE’s leaders were there to make the presentation, including one of its founders, Lyndon Bowring.
I should say in passing that while I have heard and read about this man and some of his work, I have never (to my recollection) met him. I found him a modest, unassuming man, clearly cognizant of the issues of the day and passionate about making a difference as a Christian that he has kept going in this work, all this time, and deserves our admiration, although such is the warped values our nation espouses we honour dross but fail to do so for with truth. It got me to listen to one of his sermons, pertinent to my concerns: “Christianity in a collapsing culture”. I liked his thought we act as if outcomes depend on us, but believe right outcomes depend on God.
The presentation was impressive and besides learning interesting trivia like there is no Bond Street in London and the history of the crown jewels, or useful insights like in the book of the Bible I am presently studying – Amos, there was a lot I found out that I might otherwise be ignorant off. It seems CARE has come a long way from focusing on the particular issues that Mary Whitehouse’s critics objected to, like her disdain for inappropriate (or worse) TV programs. Many of the concerns CARE are tackling right now: aborting fetuses in the case of being born disabled, how best to tackle radicalization while protecting individual liberties and the growth of human trafficking e.g. for sexual exploitation, to name but three, I have found to be of wider interest than among the narrower CARE support cohort one might expect. I was impressed by the depth and relevance of the research being undertaken, the esteem CARE is held despite criticism (something I am all too aware given some of the circles in which I move), the winsome and wise approach it advocates and practices when dealing with the movers and shakers in our society (although I confess certain skepticism).
The meeting was well attended, including by some I have known for a long time, who I might have expected to be there. It was encouraging that there are a good number who share some of CARE’s vision. One thing that did strike me though was that the overwhelming majority of those in attendance where elderly. I couldn’t help resist trying to philosophize as to why this is the case. In my “Christian engagement” I have found amidst apathy there is a growing number of Christians, especially among the young, interested in social justice issues, which have in the past often been overlooked by the church. I am also mindful that while Christian right and Christian left can be misleading terms, that many I engage with are more interested in issues of the “left”, such as poverty, inequality, dis-empowerment, rather than those of the “right”, such as abortion, (traditional) marriage and religious freedom. My own interests, e.g. homelessness and sanctuary seeking, might seem to put me in the left camp, but I find myself these days often veering to the right camp, mindful the Almighty is neither left nor right. I suspect CARE is more likely to appeal to the latter rather than the former group, even though it would likely object to such labels.
I believe as Christians we are saved to serve and that requires being obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ. It requires us to live in a manner befitting a disciple of Jesus and to take seriously his command to make disciples of all nations. However, the great commands given to Moses concerning loving God and our neighbor remain unaltered and have enormous implications. These include taking seriously the concerns of both the Christian left and right and doing what my book advocates and that is to go “Outside the Camp bearing his reproach”. I am glad we can do so with the support of CARE.