The Church, the Poor and Social Media (@Changingworship)

In the run up to Christmas it appears that The Church (TM) has become very vocal about the plight of the poor in the United Kingdom. It’s either something in the water or the revolutionary idea of God breaking into the neighbourhood through the incarnation!

There was a huge backlash in the church during the aftermath of the infamous commons debate on food bank usage. This came through in some of the mainstream media who highlighted the MPs jeering and sneering as real world stories of poverty were shared by the opposition. What was more interesting was the way people took to social media. The most widely circulating article I found on was not a national newspaper but a personal blog, whilst Dave Walker’s cartoon on Food Banks had around 1000 shares. 

A few weeks ago Russell Brand caused a stir when he took great delight in telling Jeremy Paxman that no one cares about politics. I’m increasingly finding that people are engaging in politics but without using the historic outlets.

This week Church Action on Poverty published this billboard taking the iconic images of the Saatchi and Saatchi Conservative Party election poster to highlight the growing use of foodbanks under the coalition government:

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It upset Iain Duncan Smith and his Conservative colleagues as he is figurehead of the department making it more difficult for people to access welfare and more reliant upon foodbanks. One thing that was reported in mainstream media was a simple tweet from Mark Pritchard MP (@MPritchardMP):

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When I heard about it I considered responding to his statement. I logged on to twitter to discover when I arrived at the thread that every base had already been covered in the myriad of responses from people in the pews, several priests, cathedral canons, highly respected academics…. Everyone.

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There was nothing left to say. Everything from The Magnificat to Desmond Tutu had been covered.

It seems to me that people are not so much disillusioned with politics but with the political process in the UK. Political action seems to be moving from the historic forms to new and less controllable means. The social gospel IS alive and well and being delivered via social media as Christians long to see God’s vision of the kingdom realised. It feels as though the sleeping giant that is The Church (TM) is being roused.

I leave you with the words of Mary [which are not at all political guv]:

‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

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About Robb

Robb is a priest and a vicar in the Church of England. His academic interest is in liturgy, alt:worship and the emerging church and is particularly keen on exploring the sacramantal within worship. He lives in Yorkshire and has a passion for heavy metal, playing in a pub band and riding a Harley.