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.