Much of the country is reeling from the shock result, while others are celebrating
By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
LONDON, UK (ANS – June 24, 2016) – After yesterday’s (June 23, 2016) extraordinary day of drama, the results are in and the British public has voted to leave the European Union (EU).
Supporters of Brexit — an abbreviation of “British exit” – are jubilant, while the “Remain” voters are licking their wounds, and now Prime Minister David Cameron, who supported the UK remaining in the EU, has announced he would step down in October.
But that wasn’t all. The referendum caused chaos on the global markets, including currencies, triggering the British pound to fall to its lowest level in decades.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who supported the UK remaining in the EU has announced that he would step down in October.
According to The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk), “An emotional David Cameron fought back the tears this morning as he announced he was resigning as Prime Minister over Britain’s shock Brexit vote.
“Flanked by wife Samantha as he delivered an emotional statement outside Number 10 [Downing Street], Mr. Cameron said he accepted the decision of the electorate, which voted by 52 per cent to 48 per cent to leave the EU.”
With a voice trembling with emotion, Mr Cameron announced he was standing down, before adding: “I will do everything I can in future to help this great country succeed. I think the country requires fresh leadership. I do not think I can be the captain to take the country to its next destination.”
The Telegraph went on to say that “David Cameron’s voice broke” as he finished his speech, watched on by his wife Samantha.
“The British people have voted to leave the European Union and their will must be respected,” he said. “The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered.
“This will require strong, determined and committed leadership.”
Within a short time of the results being announced, comments, with a wide variety of views, began appearing from Christian leaders in Great Britain.
One was from well-known UK-based Greek-Cypriot evangelist, speaker, and writer, J.John (Revd. Canon), who is an Anglican now living in Chorleywood, England, send a statement to ANS in which he said, “Like most people, I was somewhat surprised to find that the referendum vote actually went in favor of leaving the European Union. The vote has brought us into chaotic and unpredictable times.
He then went on to make three points:
1) We have now started on a long and difficult path that will continue for years. As Christians we have a commitment to those who are needy and oppressed, and we need to be very careful that no EU legislation is thrown away without ensuring that it is replaced with something that is just as good, if not better. Too much of the “Leave” or “Remain” debate has focused on whether we, as individuals, would be richer or poorer. In the days ahead we must make sure that this is not the only guideline.
2) We need to be very careful that the “Brexit mindset” doesn’t lead to some sort of narrow, inward-looking “Little England” mentality where what happens beyond our shores becomes totally irrelevant. Walls can be built in the mind as much as in reality. This is not just simply a matter of economic sense but a moral duty. As a nation we have contributed much to the world, not least in the spread of the Christian faith. In difficult and dangerous times, our nation still has a global role to play. We need to look outward to the world.
3) Above all, as Christians we need to pray. We have been taught that politicians control events. Nothing has demonstrated the foolishness of this idea more than this referendum. Like it or not, we have found ourselves flowing down a fast-moving stream whose course is uncharted. Whether perilous rapids or calm waters lie ahead is completely unknown to any of us. The duty of praying for our rulers and our nation is something that every Christian should take seriously; and never more so than now.
He then quoted this Scripture: “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for all who are in authority so we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.” (Timothy 2 v 1 – 4.)
According to UK-based Christian Today (http://www.christiantoday.com), “The Archbishops of Canterbury, York and Durham had all said they would vote to remain in the UK. But polls showed among ordinary Christians, the majority backed Brexit.”
The Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the most senior clergy in the Anglican Church have released a statement in response to the referendum vote in they said that whatever our views, “we must now unite in a common task to build a generous and forward looking country.”
They added that many who come from overseas will feel “deep sense of insecurity” after the result and urged people to respond by “offering reassurance, by cherishing our wonderfully diverse society, and by affirming the unique contribution of each and every one.”
The Archbishops called for prayer for David Cameron in his last months in office and for the nation as it goes forward.
They also said: “Unity, hope and generosity will enable us to overcome the period of transition that will now happen.”
Adrian Hilton, chair of the pro-Brexit group, Christians for Britain, said it was a “glorious result for liberty, democracy and the sovereignty of the people.”
Hilton told Christian Today: “This was always about how and by whom we are governed; not immigration or GDP. It was about regaining control from aloof and indifferent bureaucrats in Brussels, and being able to hold our own elected politicians to account.
“Many Christians I know have longed, prayed and worked for this day for decades. The people have sent a clear message to those who hold and exercise power that we want to be governed in accordance with our own traditions and mores; that we want to look to and trade with the whole world, not be confined to a myopic political union on one continent.”
The UK would be the first country to leave the EU since its formation and it will take years to unravel the full consequences of the decision.
“A picture of a sharply divided nation emerged after the night’s results as London was shown to be at odds with the majority of other regions,” said Christian Today.
Pat McFadden, Labour’s MP for Wolverhampton South East and a former shadow Europe minister, said: “It shows a country just split down the middle.”
McFadden, who is a Christian and resigned from Labour’s front bench, added: “Certainly for people voting to come out, immigration is very high on their list of concerns but there is also something else here too, a real sense of pessimism among people and their place in the UK.”
Gisela Stuart, a Labour MP who has campaigned to leave Britain said she felt “excited” by the result. But she told the BBC there was “clearly some disconnect” between the majority of MPs who campaigned to remain and the British people.
The Conservative Christian Fellowship gave thanks for David Cameron’s leadership in a statement released hours after the Prime Minister announced he would resign by October. The statement offered prayers for wisdom in deciding a new leader and negotiating Britain’s future.
“We pray for our Government as they lead us forward in delivering the will of the people over the coming months,” it read. “Feelings will be hurt on both sides of this referendum debate. We pray that we can all work magnanimously and graciously towards a new relationship with Europe outside the EU.
“We pray that as a Nation and in our politics we can learn to disagree graciously and desire to seek the greater good for us all.”
The publication then referred to the director of the Evangelical Alliance, Steve Clifford who said the UK must model “with generosity what a difference love and friendship can make.”
In a statement after the referendum result Clifford stated: “The UK is not united.” He added: “This has to be a time to pray.”
But he said he was confident “God is not fazed”.
Clifford criticized the “cynical campaigning and honesty marginalized for political gain” and said our energies must now be directed towards “building bridges” between communities. Reconciliation requires honesty and hard work,” he said. “It requires that we show respect and openness to those who we disagree with.
“We cannot ignore the differences that this vote has exposed, but we cannot let the differences define us. Our hands of friendship must do the work that voting cannot.”
He finished by saying he was praying for David Cameron and the Conservative party, for all the UK’s leaders and for those who are disappointed. “I pray that we renew our commitment to work together for the good of all,” he said.
The Bishop of the Church of England’s Diocese in Europe, the Rt. Revd. Dr Robert Innes, has written for the Anglican Communion News Service with his thoughts.
He began by saying “the world is still turning” and that he had reassured other church leaders in Europe of the CoE’s commitment to them.
He said he had “particular concerns” for the futures of Ireland and Scotland and said there was a need or “listening and healing” as the UK finds “a new future.”
He pleaded with diplomats to listen to the “vulnerable” people who are living overseas, whether in Britain or on the continent.
He went on to say the “bruising” campaign had showed how many British people felt alienated from “mainstream London and Brussels-centric political discourse”. Other Europeans shared their “discontents” he said as he called on EU leaders to reform the political structures in order for them to survive.
“The task of reconciliation is never done, and I want my children and grandchildren to enjoy the kind of European peace which my generation has known.”
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Catholic Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, has said Britain’s new course will be “demanding on all.”
Nichols is another church leader who made no effort to hide his support of the European Union before the vote. He previously said a Brexit vote would cause “complex problems” and added there was a tradition within Christianity of “holding things together.”
In a statement Nichols prayed that Britain’s new course would be worked out with “respect and civility” despite deep differences.
“We pray that in this process the most vulnerable will be supported and protected, especially those who are easy targets for unscrupulous employees and human traffickers,” he said.
“We pray that our nations will build on our finest traditions of generosity, of welcome for the stranger and shelter for the needy.
“We now must work hard to show ourselves to be good neighbors and resolute contributors in joint international efforts to tackle the critical problems our world today.”
Christian Today then reported, “Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrat party and an evangelical Christian, “has just spoken to the BBC and he is not in a good mood. Actually that is an understatement. He is livid. There was no mincing of his words.”
Here is a summary of what he said, beginning with the fact that he was “gutted and heartbroken”. Britain had succumbed to this vision of Nigel Farage [leader of the far-right UK Independence Party], and it is not the Britain that he wants to accept. He said he believed Britain was better than that.
“I accept the decision but boy I do not agree with it.”
Christians for Europe, the counter-part to Christians for Britain, has given their reflections: “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.
“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.”
Finally, we at ANS received the following statement by His Grace Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, who said, “Over this past week, the United Kingdom has experienced a series of significant, challenging and sometimes painful milestones. With the long-awaited results of the EU referendum, and the tragic death of Jo Cox MP in the lead-up, emotions are high and there is potential for hostility and divisiveness to flourish. There is however the more positive outcome that these events serve as a catalyst for a greater unity and collective stance for the good of all.”
He went onto say, “…the United Kingdom must now pull together, as it has so often done in the past, despite clear differences in opinion and direction. Division must not be allowed to take hold, and divisive rhetoric must not take root.
“While many would have preferred to see the UK remain in the EU, now is the time for us all as a nation to accept the decision that we have reached together through the democratic processes we have upheld for centuries, and indeed advocate for across the world. It is important for us to commence the healing process that is needed after these months of committed campaigning, and to comfort all who are now fearful of the future, and suffering the distress of uncertainty, especially due to the immediate effects on the economy.
“Regardless of what the future holds for the United Kingdom we can be certain that we are in the hands of a mighty God Who is unchanging and with us throughout our various challenges. It is our role as Christians, not only to be stewards and active citizens within our countries, but to provide holistic support for all who find these events overwhelming and distressing.
“We pray for the Prime Minister, our parliament, and all those entrusted with the leadership of these great nations, confident that the United Kingdom will find a way to embark on this new stage in history, together united.”
Note: The United Kingdom (UK) is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Photo captions: 1) David Cameron speaking outside 10 Downing Street as his wife looks on. 2) J.John gives his views. 3) The Most Revd. and Rt. Hon. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. 4) Jubilant Brexit supporters (Neil Hall, Reuters). 5) A “Remain” supporter walks by “Leave” supporter outside Downing Street in London, after Britain voted to leave the European Union. (Photo by Kevin Coombs/Reuters). 6) Norma and Dan Wooding, who were both raised in the UK.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning winning author, broadcaster and journalist born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, Alfred and Anne Wooding. He is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for nearly 53 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren, who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and the author or co-author of some 45 books, the latest of which is a novel called Mary: My Story from Bethlehem to Calvary (http://marythebook.com). Dan has a weekly radio show and two TV programs all based in Southern California. Before moving to the US, Dan was a senior reporter with two of the UK’s largest circulation newspapers and was also an interviewer for BBC Radio One in London.
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