Candidates for London Mayor Get Religion

April 28, 2008

Author: Riazat Butt

Source: The Guardian

Transport, crime and the economy are traditional vote-winners, but places of worship are also battlegrounds in this year's mayoral election in London. The contenders have thrown themselves into photo opportunities and walkabouts in mosques, temples and churches as they realise the pivotal role of religion in the capital.

A survey published by the Christian relief agency Tearfund showed that 73% of Londoners pray and that daily prayer was most common among members of black-majority churches. The capital is also home to significant Sikh, Hindu, Muslim and Jewish populations.

The mayor, Ken Livingstone, had his apparent epiphany last year in front of 50,000 Christians at a rally in the Excel arena in Docklands. "I realised you couldn't govern London without engaging with its religious communities," he said on the campaign trail last week. "Given that more people in London believe in God than anywhere else in Britain and that more people here perform an act of faith than anywhere too, you can't get into office without their support."