Paul Cooke shares news about how evangelicals are engaging with the process
The French presidency is the country’s most important political office. Elections take place every 5 years with 2 rounds of voting on Sundays a fortnight apart. To be eligible for the first round of voting, candidates need to be “sponsored” by at least 500 out of a total of about 42,000 potential sponsors such as mayors and MPs. The act of sponsoring (parrainage in French) is not necessarily intended to convey support for a candidate; indeed, some sponsors consider it a civic duty to sign for a candidate from a different political tradition to their own. For the 2022 first round, there were 12 candidates with the requisite 500 signatures, including all the front-runners.
Voters chose among the qualifying candidates on 10th April 2022. The 2 candidates with the most votes were Emmanuel Macron, the current centrist president, and Marine Le Pen from the nationalist Right. They will now go head-to-head on 24t April.
While being careful to avoid encouraging votes for any particular candidate(s), the CNEF (National Council of French Evangelicals) is encouraging the country’s 1.1 million evangelicals to participate in the elections. The CNEF has produced an attractive booklet called Convictions des Évangéliques en France to provide information, to stimulate debate, and to encourage prayer.
The booklet underlines how evangelicals stress the importance of a personal faith in Jesus following conversion and that this faith will lead to sharing the gospel, planting new churches to welcome and encourage new believers, and doing good in the community. This Christianity based on personal conviction (rather than inherited tradition) embodies a Bible-based view of the world that can be summed up in the three big ideas of Creation, Fall, and Redemption through Christ. This gospel hope leads to the following convictions about how to live and act:
Church & society: through their culture ofwelcome for all, irrespective of social or ethnic background, evangelicals actively contribute to social peace and harmony.
Church & politics: France’s authorities and institutions should demonstrate wisdom by promoting peace and preserving freedom of religion and speech.
Freedom of religion: evangelicals promote laïcité (state neutrality regarding religion) and encourage the objective teaching of religious studies in school to produce better informed citizens.
Human dignity: since all human beings are made in God’s image, evangelicals seek to show love to all (especially the most vulnerable), irrespective of status, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation. They seek to combat all forms of abuse and defend the right to freedom of conscience (e.g. for medical professionals).
Family: families provide the basis of society and a vital context for learning social relationships. The convictions of evangelicals in relation to sexuality will not prevent them from welcoming the diverse expressions of family in today’s society.
Environmental protection: since humanity is responsible for stewarding God’s creation, evangelicals deplore the over-exploitation of resources and the destruction of natural balances, and support local and international action in favour of greater respect for the environment.
Economy & social justice: whilst supportive of entrepreneurial innovation and the value of work, evangelicals affirm that the economy should serve people (and not vice versa).
Arts & culture: evangelicals encourage artistic creativity as a means of expressing and exploring cultural differences.
· That believers will approach the elections prayerfully
· That politicians will take their responsibilities seriously
· That the CNEF’s booklet will help evangelicals evaluate political programmes
· That whoever wins the election will protect freedom of religion and expression