Your letters: Three Greater Lincolnshire bishops say Brexit splits must be healed

Library image: Pictured (from left) are the Rt Rev Dr David Court,  the Rt Rev Christopher Lowson and the Rt Rev Dr Nicholas Chamberlain.
Library image: Pictured (from left) are the Rt Rev Dr David Court, the Rt Rev Christopher Lowson and the Rt Rev Dr Nicholas Chamberlain.

On June 23, the people of Greater Lincolnshire voted overwhelmingly in support of leaving the EU.

The country followed a democratic process, and all of us who voted did so in good faith.

The Christian gospel is quite clear that divisiveness, discrimination and self-interest should have no place in the better society Jesus calls us to build.

Those of us who are disappointed should not cry foul just because the decision did not go our way.

Those who are pleased and excited should work hard to understand the concerns and principled position of those who voted to remain.

All of us must respect the outcome of the referendum and not seek to diminish the views of those with whom we disagree.

In reflecting on the referendum, we are especially concerned for those who feel vulnerable and frightened or who fear for their livelihood.

It is our duty now to work together to provide reassurance and to strengthen cohesion in our communities, and not to further divide them.

The referendum has revealed that there are deep divisions in our nation: between Scotland and England; between London and the regions; between younger and older people; between those who are comfortable and those who feel alienated.

We thank God that we live in one of the most open and tolerant societies in the world.

This is a privilege, and it brings with it the responsibility to be careful about how we express our differences.

The referendum has given clear voice to many who feel left behind by changes to working practices and job security; to access to housing, social services and benefits; to education; to the social composition of neighbourhoods and regions.

We pledge ourselves to do all that we can to listen to this voice and to ensure that all who feel left behind, for whatever reason, are listened to with respect.

This is an uncertain and unsettling period of time, but by focusing on how we conduct ourselves and how we determine the values we live by, we believe that we have the capacity to shape a positive future for all.

The Christian gospel is quite clear that divisiveness, discrimination and self-interest should have no place in the better society Jesus calls us to build.

Jesus taught us that love of God and love of neighbour are the fundamental tenets of faith.

Christians have a duty to challenge anything that undermines these principles.

Our neighbours are not just those we live next to, or ‘people like us’; our neighbour is anyone who needs our help, whoever they are and wherever they have come from.

This is the foundation of community – a compassion for our common humanity.

We are all made in the image of God, and part of our calling is to recognise and nourish this image in those we meet in the course of our daily lives.

The rise in racist and intimidatory behaviour in various parts of our country is disturbing and sickening.

We know you will join us in condemning such appalling behaviour.

We pray that we may all work together to ensure that Greater Lincolnshire is a safe place to live for everyone.

The people who were our neighbours before the referendum are still our neighbours today.

We must continue to care for our neighbours, whether in our own communities, in our country or around the world.

No person is more or less deserving of safety, happiness, prosperity, respect or peace.

We have witnessed months of often bitter and damaging debate with half-truths being peddled on both sides of the argument and this has led to fear.

As Christians, we believe that love casts out fear – that in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, love has overcome hate once and for all.

Whether you voted in or out, therefore, we hope you will join us in recommitting yourselves to working together for the common good and to ensuring that our future in Greater Lincolnshire reflects grace and hospitality, compassion and love, and the justice of Jesus, so that everyone can flourish as sons and daughters of God.

We invite you to join us in reflecting on what God might be telling us through the words of scripture.

This letter comes with our prayers for you all and for God’s people everywhere.

Christopher Lincoln, David Grimsby and Nicholas Grantham

The Bishops of the diocese of Lincoln