By Andrew Symes
Senior Conservative politicians have been declaring their support for the Christian faith during the Easter season. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles and then more recently David Cameron himself have stated that Britain is “a Christian country”. This has been greeted with predictable fury by secularists who think that this is somehow privileging Christians over those of other faiths and none, and will fuel “sectarianism”. A Jewish commentator in a radio interview dismissed this, pointed out the irony of the secularists’ complaint coming during the official public holiday celebrating Easter, and said he was very comfortable about being in a Christian country. Secularism, far from being neutral about religion as they claim, is much more hostile to all faith than Christianity is to other belief systems.
The majority of ordinary people identify with the Christian religion even if only a small minority are regular churchgoers. Campaigning secularists come disproportionately from well educated and affluent sectors of society; they are not representative but highly influential. Because of their success in this life and their dismissal of the idea of the afterlife, they will usually tend towards Darwinian and even Nietzschian views about weakness and suffering, and are often strong proponents of liberalisation of abortion, euthanasia, sexual ethics, and new genetic and reproductive technologies. They believe they are not accountable to any God, and history has shown how this can lead to dangerous and tragic arrogance when applied to government policy. While Mr Cameron did not take on the secularists about these issues, it must be seen as a good thing that he has maintained the validity of the Judaeo-Christian worldview as the basis for many of the good things in our culture. Hopefully the Bishops will take the opportunity to follow up, and explain the folly and sinister consequences of secularism, as well as the meaning of God and the relevance of proper Christian faith.
However, there were problems with Mr Cameron’s message. Firstly, its timing, just after fierce criticisms from church leaders about the effects of reformed welfare policies, and just weeks before elections where Conservatives are tipped to lose many European seats because of defections to UKIP over gay marriage, smacked of political opportunism. Secondly, his urging of Christians to be more up-front about their faith rings hollow for those who have to silence their views for fear of dismissal, as another recent case reminds us.