Christians for Social Justice: Christine Parkinson
Christians for Social Justice (CSJ) was set up in the late 1980’s, as a response to yet another term of office for Margaret Thatcher in the 1987 General Election. It aimed to raise the profile of issues of social justice among the UK population and to encourage Christians to get involved in politics. The Bible provides a vision of a new kingdom of justice and peace, in which there is no poverty, no hunger, no homelessness and all form of exploitation and enmity are overthrown. It was felt that, through this belief, active Christians could bring a new dimension to the political arena and in policy-making decisions.
Over the next 12 years, CSJ ran a number of day conferences on issues of poverty, health, unemployment, homelessness, education etc., as well as publishing a number of occasional and information papers about specific issues. Martin Dent, a politics lecturer at the University of Keele, gave a keynote speech at a CSJ Day conference in April 1991, in which he raised the issue of writing off the unpayable debt of a number of developing countries, by the year 2000. He called this Jubilee 2000 and encouraged people to sign petitions and to lobby G8 summits. CSJ also published a paper by Martin Dent “Liberation from the Burden of Unpayable Debt”.
CSJ published its own “Charter for Social Justice” in 1993 and this was sent to every MP and MEP – several were very grateful to receive the Charter and to make use of the data within it. When John Major became Prime Minister in 1990, the committee of CSJ sent him an open letter asking him to consider 7 policy issues. The letter concluded “We would urge you to ensure that your policies serve not only the narrow economic interests of the nation and its commercial sector but the health and well-being of all its citizens, in order that, in Britain, we will have a generous, and not a greedy society.” Major took the letter seriously and circulated it to several of his ministers, who sent lengthy responses to the issues that CSJ had raised.
CSJ ceased to function in 2004, as those involved in running it became very busy in other related issues.