Thursday, April 11, 2013

High office, low church

From The Economist-

IT IS hard to imagine a prime minister doing such a thing now, and even then it seemed rather surprising. In May 1988 Margaret Thatcher went to the General Assembly of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland and gave what would soon be called the Sermon on the Mound. It was an impassioned statement of a certain form of Christianity. The Conservative leader stressed individual salvation over social reform, the legitimacy of moneymaking when combined with altruism, and the “responsibility that comes with freedom and the supreme sacrifice of Christ”.

In religion, as in so much else, Mrs (later Lady) Thatcher was a bundle of paradoxes. She was the last British prime minister openly and emphatically to acknowledge the influence of Christianity on her thinking, in particular terms not fuzzy ones. Her fellow Tories, John Major and David Cameron, have presented themselves as loyal but lukewarm Anglicans. “I don’t pretend to understand all the complex parts of Christian theology,” Mr (later Sir John) Major once said, reassuringly. As for Labour’s leaders, Gordon Brown inherited the ethos but not the zeal of his father, a Presbyterian minister. Tony Blair is passionately religious but was famously discouraged by his advisers from “doing God” in public because of the fear that he might sound nutty.

More here-

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