Monday, June 06, 2005
Religion and Politics in the USA and UK
In a pre-election appearance last March, Prime Minister Tony Blair said to an audience of evangelical Christians at Lambeth:
"................it would be “unhealthy” if religion got too mixed up with politics."
Mr. Blair has been described as the most devout Christian Prime Minister since Stanley Baldwin. He attends Catholic service with his family (Mrs. Blair is a Roman Catholic) although he declares himself as Anglican.
Yet, despite his personal belief he recognizes the British public's distrust of politicians who wear their religion on their sleeves. An article in TimesonLine (3/25/05 - see link) reported that when the prime minister wanted to add "God bless" at the end of his speech to the nation announcing the war against Iraq, he was dissuaded by Alastair Campbell, his the then chief of communications. Campbell said "We don't do God".
"One answer may be found in the increasingly secular and multi-ethnic character of British society. Figures published in the UK Christian Handbook suggested that at the current rate of decline, total church membership across Britain would have fallen to 5,598,000 by this year, down by more than a million people in 15 years."
According to the Timesonline article, Prime Minister Blair's cabinet (before the election) included members who declared themselves as atheists or agnostics.
Can we imagine an atheist cabinet secretary or an elected representative here in the United States! Strange. Is it fear of God or love of God that drives the zealots in our country? Is America a more moral nation? Is the divorce rate here lower than in England? What about crime rate? Teenage pregnancy?
Few clicks through Google provided answers.
- Britain has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in Western Europe but below that of the United States.
- Divorce rate is much lower in the UK
- So is crime rate although gun-related violence is on the increase.
Not signs of a country in moral decay. The Brits are doing fine without being obsessed with hell and damnation.
The Evangelical Christians in America blame all ills of our society to godlessness, lack of faith in Jesus. Based on what we see, read, and hear about them that is a stretch.
Currently, they are in the driver's seat. The president is on their side. Whether we like it or not, their beliefs are being rammed down our throats. From banning the teaching of the theory of evolution in schools, display of Ten Commandments in public buildings, efforts to deny women the right to obtain "Morning After Pills" and access to abortion, the puritans are riding rough shod over those who disagree. The wall between Church and State is under siege. As more and more judicial vacancies at all levels are filled with justices who side with the religious conservatives, the wall will crumble.