Alastair Campbell famously said of Tony Blair’s labour government: “we don’t do god” and this sentiment seemed to summarise British politics at large, happily. Unlike our American cousins, elected officials stating their religious convictions too loudly are likely to end up counting sniggers rather than votes.
Thatcher learned a lesson when she temporarily demoted herself to theologian, and crackpot demagogues spewing nonsense on the link between homosexuality and the weather are promptly shown the door.
Yet, David Cameron is committed to rubbing me up the wrong way on pretty much everything he has to say concerning religion. There’s the constant pissing on our shoes and claiming it’s not Islam, to encouraging Christians to be more evangelical and divisively asserting we are a Christian country. This brings us to his Christmas message which includes some patronising spiel about the importance of ‘Christian Values’.
From Sky News:
David Cameron has reiterated his commitment to “Christian values” in his Christmas message to the UK.
The Prime Minister said Britain should be proud of “giving, sharing and taking care of others” at home and abroad.
He also praised the work of the British military, aid workers and medical volunteers abroad. He said: “Among the joyous celebrations we will reflect on those very Christian values of giving, sharing and taking care of others”
You see – giving, sharing and taking care of others are “very Christian values”, and not simply human values. These are all perfectly commendable values of course, worth encouraging – but why does the Prime Minister of The UK feel it necessary to place them in such an exclusionary and divisive context? This is the moment where many would suspect it’s not religious sincerity on Cameron’s part, but rather an attempt to keep the Christian vote onside.
Perhaps that’s true, but is that wise? Data shows the majority of Brits believe religion and state should be kept separate. Recent data also reveals a huge decline in Christianity, yet an increase in Islam amongst the youthful. Perhaps it would have been wise for Cameron to talk up ‘Islamic values’ in his Christmas address too. Perhaps not.
I look forward to the day when our leaders are unafraid to champion compassion, good will and empathy towards our fellow creatures without tribal rhetoric or so much as a nod towards a defunct superstition. These values aren’t Christian, they’re human. They’re no-one’s to own – but everyone’s to share. Merry Christmas.
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