Jun 19, 2024

A bishop has said voters should make a candidate’s position on marriage central to their voting intentions in the approaching General Election.

Mark Davies, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Shrewsbury, told congregants at a special service celebrating marriage that the harm of family breakdown must lead “our elected representatives to have the courage and responsibility to recognise the central place of marriage in securing the good of society and of new generations”.

He told the congregation in Chester that: “Research indicates that the single most important factor in a child’s flourishing is the stable relationship of their parents and while this stability is the norm when parents are married, it is the exception when they are not.”

Yet politicians fail to acknowledge the importance of marriage both in what they say and what they do. He went on to say: “Sadly, in public life and policy we have seen a parallel diminishment of the place of marriage, as if it were merely a lifestyle choice rather than the bedrock on which the well-being of the individual and society is bound up.”

Earlier this year, the Marriage Foundation pointed out that it is almost ten years since any Cabinet minister made a speech or comment on the importance of marriage.

The charity’s research shows that man-woman marriage is inherently more stable and enduring than other forms of relationship. For example, 84% of parents who are still together when their first-born child turns 14 are married, while just 16% are unmarried.

The Marriage Foundation laments that Government family policy is now focused on encouraging parents into work and providing formal out-of-home childcare instead of supporting marriage. It notes that the Government offers almost zero financial incentive to get married, while the benefits system significantly penalises marriage.

In 2013, politicians claimed that redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would lead to a boost in marriage rates. In fact, countries that introduced same-sex marriage, including the UK, have seen marriage rates plummet.

It’s clear that successive governments have failed to give marriage the centrality it deserves in underpinning a healthy, happy society. The intervention from a Roman Catholic bishop calling attention to this failure during the election campaign is welcome. Why, though, no word from the bishops of our established church, the Church of England?

C4M unites marriage supporters of all faiths and none in wanting to see real marriage restored to its rightful place at the heart of Government family policy.