Cameron, Conservatism, and Christianity

English Prime Minister David Cameron has recently given a speech in which it seems he is seeking to affirm – or reaffirm – his conservative and Christian credentials. Just how credible his credentials really are remains to be seen however.

He has done plenty of non-conservative and non-Christian things since coming to power, including pushing the homosexual agenda and same-sex marriage. He may lead the conservative party, but at times he seems anything but. So we will see if he is the real deal when it comes to conservative and Christian values.

Here is how his speech has been written up: “David Cameron has declared that ‘Britain is a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so’, in a speech to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Cameron told Church of England clergy gathered in Oxford that a return to Christian values could counter the country’s ‘moral collapse’ and blamed a ‘passive tolerance’ of immoral behaviour for this summer’s riots, Islamic extremism, City excess and Westminster scandals. His words will delight traditionalists in his party and Christian groups that claim believers are increasingly marginalised .”

The Guardian article concludes this way: “However emphatic he was about the importance of Christianity to Britain, he was less insistent about its place in his personal life. As with previous declarations of his belief – once likening it to the patchy reception of a radio station – he told his audience he was a ‘committed but vaguely practising Church of England Christian’ who, while he would stand up for the values and principles of his faith, was ‘full of doubts and, like many, constantly grappling with the difficult questions when it comes to some of the big theological issues’. Last month the government announced it was sending a copy of the King James Bible, complete with a foreword from education minister Michael Gove, to every school in the country.”

A number of queries come to mind here. If he is really serious about reaffirming Christian values in public, then how does that square with his insistence on homosexuality, and his willingness to use the strong arm of the law to crackdown on those who dare to differ?

As Melanie McDonagh comments, “the texts certainly don’t unequivocally back either homosexuality or a female priesthood. Indeed working from the Old Testament alone there is, shall we say, a problem with homosexuality which can’t be quite equated with other prohibitions. In short, Mr Cameron can’t afford to be dogmatic about his gospel of tolerance, certainly to the point of persecuting adoption agencies that discriminate in favour of married heterosexuals.”

Quite so. And I especially like this remark of McDonagh as she zeroes in on the real issue here: “But more profoundly, Mr Cameron’s remarks about Christian values fail to get to the heart of the contemporary moral malaise. Look, Christian values flow from Christianity. Without those beliefs in the God who became man, and who died for sinners and rose from the dead, and forgave sins, the moral values don’t count for much. It’s because of who and what Christ was that we take to heart what he said about loving our enemies, turning the other cheek. Values aren’t something free-floating; they come from what we believe. So when Mr Cameron says we should return to Christian values, he misses the point. What we need – with all respect to other faiths – is a return to Christianity.”

Yes exactly right and very well spoken. We have so many political and other leaders going on about the importance of Christian values and Christian ethics, but they fail to realise that without Christianity and without the teachings of Christ, you cannot have these values and ethics.

Jewish commentator Melanie Phillips has also discussed Mr Cameron’s ethics and faith, especially in regard to the institution of marriage. She begins her incisive piece as follows: “Has David Cameron at last discovered his inner Conservative? First he electrified everyone by defying the EU over his defence of Britain’s financial services sector against the threat of crippling regulation.

“Then, at the weekend, he delivered a speech about the vital importance of upholding Christian moral codes. He has thus delivered an unambiguously Conservative message two weeks in a row. This from a leader whose strategy to date has been to reposition the Tories as ‘not-the-Conservative Party’ as the only way of gaining power. And yet, guess what? After the EU drama, he shot up in the polls. One shows him bouncing into a six-point lead over Labour.”

She continues, “In a few robust remarks, he thus got right to the heart of his country’s moral and social malaise. And how striking this was. For while the Church of England pins the blame for just about every social ill on poverty, inequality or some other fashionable political shibboleth, Mr Cameron homed in on the real cause — the replacement of Biblical codes of behaviour by moral neutrality.

“He was absolutely right to say that bad choices have too often been defended as just different lifestyles, and that ‘live and let live’ has too often become ‘do what you please’. Nowhere is this more disastrously true — although he did not spell this out in his speech — than in the breakdown of the traditional family.

“He was right to say that this mentality helped cause some of the social problems that lay at the heart of the anarchic lawlessness in this summer’s riots, and also that the absence of moral codes had allowed some bankers and politicians to behave with scant regard for the rest of society.

“And he was also right — and brave — to stress that Britain remains a Christian country, and that it is vital to acknowledge that the belief in universal human dignity and equality is rooted in the Bible. You don’t have to be a Christian to grasp that the decline of religious belief in Britain has, in turn, eroded the social glue that keeps society together. So, bravo to the Prime Minister for an unexpectedly traditional speech.”

But he needs to decide where he stands on marriage. He certainly cannot keep “parroting this outdated nonsense about marriage being just ‘something on a piece of paper’. It takes us back 40 years, when the Left systematically set about undermining marriage and promoting mass fatherlessness in its all-too successful promotion of ‘lifestyle choice’.

“Now the results from that particular experiment in social engineering are in —and they are unambiguously terrible. As the Centre for Social Justice points out, a staggering 46 per cent of children are now born to unmarried mothers, and by their 16th birthday nearly half of all children will see their parents split.

“One in three unmarried couples separate before their child’s fifth birthday, compared with one in 11 married couples. And although many lone parents do a heroic job, it remains the case that a child growing up in a one-parent family is 75 per cent more likely to fail at school, 70 per cent more likely to become a drug addict, 50 per cent more likely to have an alcohol problem and 35 per cent more likely to be unemployed as an adult.

“Children of married parents, by contrast, are far less likely to suffer serious abuse or mental health problems, abuse alcohol or drugs, or become delinquent.” Yes the social science research on the negative impact of marriage and family breakdown is very well established indeed.

Phillips concludes, “The danger for Mr Cameron, however, is if his own gestures to Conservatism turn out to be insincere.  For all his fine talk about restoring Christian morality is currently merely just that — talk. Last night, his allies reiterated his promise to introduce tax breaks for married couples — yet they can’t be introduced yet because of the economic crisis.

“However, the Government is to spend some £448?million on ‘troubleshooters’ to act as brokers between families and welfare services. But families don’t need yet more ‘experts’ — they need fathers. Similarly, with gay marriage on his agenda and equality legislation being used to discriminate against Catholic adoption agencies, there is precious little to reassure Christians that Mr Cameron really is on their side.

“The lesson of his EU veto bounce is surely that Mr Cameron has everything to gain from reasserting core Conservative values in upholding the basic morality of this Christian country. Mr Clegg, meanwhile, has nowhere else to go.

“The Prime Minister should, therefore, consign his deputy’s moral neutrality to the bin where it belongs, and translate those fine words about Biblical values into practical policies to restore married parents to their rightful place as the bedrock of truly progressive politics.”

I for one am certainly heartened to see the Prime Minister make some decent comments about society, faith and public policy. But we must wait and see if this is a new-found commitment to Christianity and conservative political policies, or if it is just more political grandstanding and rhetoric.

www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/16/cameron-king-james-bible-anniversary?newsfeed=true
www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/7494008/camerons-missing-the-point-christian-values-require-christianity.thtml
www.melaniephillips.com/marriage-and-why-adolescent-clegg-must-be-living-on-a-different-planet

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12 Replies to “Cameron, Conservatism, and Christianity”

  1. Words are cheap – they cost nothing. UK Christians shouldn’t get too excited about Cameron’s speech. Integrity in politics is rarer than rare earth minerals going by the recent political history in Australia so someone making seemingly supportive & appropriate remarks in favour of Christianity needs to be taken with a grain of salt. If there is real “Salt” in Cameron it will manifest itself in actual policy implementation – on the basis of this article Bill I am somewhat at a loss to find any.

    Beware of those in sheeps clothing, in and out of the Church.

    Grant Weedall

  2. While it’s good that Cameron is sending Bibles to the schools, the King James Bible is so old that it would be of little practical use.

    We will have to wait and see if his speech translates into some action.

    Matt Vinay

  3. Yes, Matt.

    He would have been far more effective if, along with the commemorative KJV, he had supplied free copies of a modern translation for all the students and staff to actually read.

    Maybe a New KJV?

    John Angelico

  4. Well said Grant.
    I hope nobody is actually fooled by empty rhetoric from Mr Cameron. Christians beware. He wouldn’t be the first politician to say one thing but do another.
    The proof of his new conviction will be evident in his actions.
    Annette Williams

  5. Perhaps inadvertently Mr Cameron described himself on coming into office as the “heir to Blair”. That has particular significance and resonance in political terms for Blair was known to be “all things to all men”.
    Mr Cameron appears to be little different in that when he speaks to one audience he will adapt his political ideology to suit them, or again when speaking to another group he will adapt once again, irrespective of apparent contradictions.

    As already posted, if Mr Cameron had real Christian convictions he would not declare his support for “gay” marriage, and he would reverse the punitive equality laws which discriminate against Christians in the UK.

    However, like Blair, what is missing from Cameron’s public utterances is any mention of the place or importance of Jesus Christ in his own life. This too is significant for one cannot seek to promote public morality and “Christian values” divorced from an open confession of Christ as Saviour and Lord, at some point.
    A Christian therefore would see immediately the sharp incompatibility of his “Christian values” approach and the sheer hypocrisy of his open allegiance to the “gay” cause in the UK in general, and to legalise homosexual “marriage” in particular. I submit that it is impossible for a real Christian to pass the latter into national legislation.
    “by their fruits shall you know them”

    Graham Wood, UK

  6. Thanks for the link Tas. Here is one snippet from the article:

    “The Prime Minister, and the entire ruling class, seems to understand, vaguely, that something is deeply wrong, that Britain suffers from some disconnection with the past and with a foundational set of moral and social ideas. But the irony is that they themselves are the victims of this disconnected and morally impoverished, post-Christian culture. David Cameron, together with the people who inhabit his world, seem, literally, not to know what he is talking about.”

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  7. IT’S THE ECONOMY STUPID

    The Prime Minister, of Britain, David Cameron, has already mastered the essential craft of the European politician, namely the ability to say one thing to the public and do a very different thing in reality. When the Pope was visiting Britain last year he gravely and sanctimoniously nodded to all that he had to say regarding the threat of secularism and the marginalisation of Christians in Britain; and yet no sooner had the Pope gone home than he was pressing even harder on the accelerator pedal of oppressing Christians. He has spoken about the big society and giving power back to the people, and amen to that. But who would have guessed, listening to him at the time of the election that he was the author of the comment that he believed in marriage and the family and yet he is now prepared to spend possibly millions, if not billions of pounds, in public money to support organisations whose intent is to destroy traditional marriage and family. He is prepared to bow the knee and fund, out the pockets of an already hard pressed working people, outfits like Stonewall, The Equality and Human Rights Commission, Terrance Higgins Trust and all those who are determined shut down swathes of charity organisations, schools, adoption agencies, old peoples’ homes, hostels for the homeless, voluntary labour carried out by thousands if not hundreds of thousands of ordinary, decent conscientious Christians…..and the Bed and Breakfast business of Mr and Mrs Bull, all in the name of tearing down barriers to promiscuity, fornication, adultery and polysexual perversion.
    Perhaps he would have more moral authority in Britain if his actions matched his words? Perhaps he would have more legitimacy in the councils of the world if the United Kingdom were not just going into economic recession but one where security, social cohesion and justice in Britain, like the Pope, hadn’t packed their bags long ago – or where he didn’t threaten African countries that do not sign up to homosexuality with cutting off overseas aid.
    The truth is that Britain has not only run out money but moral and spiritual courage. Britain in his own words is broken. Every British child is born not only owing around £20,000, but will have to pay the financial cost of supporting dysfunctional, polymorphous families that come in all different shapes and sizes; not only single parent families, but children being raised by two or four lesbians, or several homosexuals and women of various sexualities, a mixture of straights, transsexuals, transgenders and transvestites, or a combinations of any number of polyamorous partners – let alone those who practise incest and paedophilia.
    No doubt in time as society worsens, becomes more unstable, disintegrates and violent he will repeatedly blame parents and Christians and those who toil to keep the fabric of society together. The latter are already being held up for contempt and mockery by Tesco with the Head of their Research and Development reading out The Love that Dares to Speak its Name on Youtube. Well, it is true that other Western nations are also experiencing social upheaval, but not every country is so far ahead as Britain in destroying itself. Other countries from around the world look on disbelievingly as our once Christian country, a byword for justice, integrity and freedom of speech, thought and conscience descends into an orgy of self-destruction.
    Like Tony Blair and Gordon Brown he is carrying on, wilfully worsening our situation, and wantonly spending what little we have left on futile social engineering. This year hundreds of thousands of jobs have been lost and many more to come and yet he is prepared to spend billions in drawing up and enforcing legislation that will promote homosexuality and a legion of sexual perversions whilst getting rid of those who actually do the job of raising families for free.
    The prime minister cannot carry on for ever squeezing the productive bit of society, those who produce children and our future investment, in order to fund an unprecedented engorgement of the unproductive bit. He cannot spend his way, as the previous Labour government attempted to do, out of social, moral and spiritual recession. And when his Home Secretary, Teresa May, repeats, in that wooden and perfunctory way, “As a country we have come a long way,” and “As a party, my own party, the Conservatives have come a long way. We now have more openly gay MPs and openly gay ministers than ever before,” and “Despite the real progress we have seen in recent years, there is much still to do,” and “ We will go further – we will implement section 202 of the Equality Act which will remove the ban on civil partnership registrations being held on religious premises,” we have to tell him that she too sounds like a Brezhnev-era apparatchik giving the party line. He knows, and we know, and he knows that we know that it’s nonsense! Everyone knows that Britain is worse off than any other country as we go into these hard times.
    In 2007, UNICEF looked at 40 indicators from the years 2002 – 2003, including poverty, family relationships and health and the UK came bottom of a league table for child well-being across 21 industrialised countries. But only last November Ian Duncan Smith said that “ the collapse of marriage had brought soaring crime rates, doubled the chances of living in poverty and cost the country an astonishing £100billion a year.
    David Cameron and Nick Clegg are the unelected, discredited and devalued duo of an unelected discredited, devalued and dysfunctional government.
    Where do the British look to for help? If not to the Lord Jesus Christ upon whose word Britain was founded.
    ‘Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.’ Psalm 127:1

    David Skinner, UK

  8. Pope Benedict is recently on record as saying the greatest threat to Christianity is not persecution from outside the church but rather, sin within it. All those of us who dare to call ourselves Christian must examine our lives in the light of the teachings of He whom we claim to follow.And how will we do that if we never study His Word? Perhaps David Cameron would do better to study Sacred Scripture himself instead of sending token copies to schools – a political ploy rather than an act of Faith I’d guess. Then he might recognise how blatantly hypocritical he makes himself appear in claiming to be any sort of Christian. Not that I’m suggesting we never fall short of the mark – but we surely know what the mark is! We don’t deny the reality of sin and when we fall we repent, seek forgiveness and keep running the race, trusting in God.
    Perhaps I am unduly harsh – conversion may be a gradual process for some. I should pray for him.
    Anna Cook

  9. There is only one word that both Graham and Anna have used to describe Cameron and that must be HYPOCRITE. Jesus Christ reserved his most politically incorrect hatred for them and of course they crucified Him for it; and, barring a miracle, Christians cannot expect any less persecution from Cameron in 2012.

    David Skinner, UK

  10. We had a whole library set of Bibles at Upwey High in prehistory when I was there. 1 copy per school sounds a bit mean. Hope they already have some.
    Re Anna Cook’s comment: my husband says he has been telling people this for years and thinks the Pope is really great.
    Katherine Fishley

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