Man bites dog

Well that’s unusual – politicians usually say ‘hands off’ if faith groups look like getting interested in political issues. So Secretary of State Jim Murphy’s speech suggesting that ‘religion should play a role in British politics’ gives pause for thought. He certainly got a robust response from the Cardinal.

The danger of politicians talking like this is that they may want to take the ‘faith agenda’ and ‘shrink-wrap’ it to fit a political agenda. But .. take it at face value .. the exercising of the informed Christian conscience … the careful measuring of political issues against the values of Christian and other faiths. What would the agenda be? Well here are a couple of things for starters….

Justice – the shaping of a new world order in trade and food
Global Warming – a real concern for creation
War and Peace – a new commitment to resolving international disputes without recourse to war
Education and Health – major priorities
Wealth – how it is created and how it is used
Society – how to build an inclusive and tolerant society

I am interested in genuine dialogue between faith groups and politicians – but it needs to extend beyond the issues which dominate that dialogue at present. Most of all, I would love to see a new substance to political debate – it seems to be almost entirely tactical at present.


  1. What an interesting topic.

    In the U.S., when politicians talk about faith initiatives it usually means paying lip service to religious values in exchange for votes. Its not a good deal at all.

    One observer (Jim Wallace I think) observed our political discussion had pushed our religious debate into the bedroom – only issues of sex and reproduction get much traction in the context of faith.

    But as followers of Jesus we have a great mandate to talk about feeding the hungry and tending the sick. We have a huge call to work for justice. No politician on this side of the Atlantic seems to want to hear about that…

    Perhaps Secretary Murphy is a different breed of politician that we have.

    But I tend to suspect when politicians want to talk about religion, its because they want to draw attention away from something else.

  2. The starting place for Christians is problematic for politicians. They work from an assumption of scarcity. We are centered in the promise of abundance. They are rewarded for stoking fear and backing the few at the expense of the many. We have a God who raises the dead and for whom all things are possible, and all creation matters. So the place where we can meet and work together is the nexus of honest assessment of fear and confrontation with the forces of death, but also with hope and trust that our joint efforts are driven and blessed by a Spirit truly bigger than any problem we face – and a living Lord who leaves none of us behind.

  3. Gordon’s superb piece in the Economist a couple of days ago was substance such as you are asking for – have a look !

  4. A photo opportunity with religion
    in an attempt to salvage electorate trust.
    Jesus said to him,
    “Let the dead bury their own dead,
    but you go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”
    Luke 9:60.

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