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Reform Magazine | November 29, 2023

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Donald Norwood: Brexit regrets

Donald Norwood: Brexit regrets

Donald Norwood laments the Churches’ failures over Brexit

Brexit is a mess. Here we can all agree. A case could be made for and against remaining in the European Union but it needed to have been made clearly and honestly. That did not happen. The vote of 52% to 48% showed the country is in two minds. Divided churches may be part of the problem too.

The sociologist Linda Woodhead tells me that two-thirds of Anglicans voted leave. I note that in those parts of the UK where the Reformed Churches have a higher profile, Northern Ireland and Scotland, their decision was to remain. One might hope that Catholics, whose Church is by its very constitution international, would be aware that many of the EU’s pioneers were Catholics, with a God-given mission to work for peace on a continent that in the past 100 years had suffered three major wars. We heard little about this in the English debates.

As I write, there is no sign of a solution to the mess we are in. It is too early to say what may happen. It is not too late to repent. Churches should confess they gave too little thought to holding a referendum in 2016 on such a complex issue. Keith Clements, former General Secretary of the Conference of European Churches, tells us in his latest book that only the Kirk of Scotland and the Society of Friends debated the issue. Churches could have voiced doubts about the referendum process. That process is too individualistic for decisions that may make life harder for others. It is not our best practice. We prefer to pray together, debate and decide together, ideally aiming at unanimity which has been the practice of the Christian community since the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. …


This is an extract from an article that was published in the April 2019 edition of Reform

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