Catholics for Cameron
But the advent of David Cameron has changed things. The Bishop of Motherwell, Joe Devine, has taken the trouble to write to Mr Cameron in praise of his commitment to faith schools, his dedication to ‘the sacred institutions of the family and marriage’ and his support of the work being done on social justice by Iain Duncan Smith. Bishop Joe has form on advising his congregation on where they should mark ‘X’ on their ballot papers, having called on them to abandon Labour during the last Holyrood election. He is on a divine mission to eradicate the perception that the Catholic Church in Scotland is simply the ‘Scottish Labour Party at prayer’.
Bishop Joe is simply articulating what very many Christians have come to realise: they can no longer, in good conscience, vote for a party which has sacrificed marriage on the altar of gay equality; legislated to create fatherless children and human-animal hybrids; refused to hear the cries of the murdered unborn; and financially penalised 1.8 million families who stay together for better or worse.
And in a more subtle exhortation to the faithful not to vote Labour (or is it a final plea to be considered for Westminster?) the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham, claimed that (in New Labour’s New Britain) ‘arguments based on morality and spirituality are ignored’.
He does not say so, but neither does he conceal the fact that Tony Blair’s decision to not ‘do God’ whilst in office has relegated matters of faith ‘to a private, individual pursuit’ while the country has increasingly ‘sought to define itself by secular and material standards’.
A decade of Tony Blair and two years of Gordon Brown have yielded a society which ‘lacks cohesion’ with no sense of right and wrong or good and bad, and no common values. And he rightly observes that ‘the virtues of compassion, respect and tolerance cannot survive once they have been severed from their roots in Christian teaching’.
Archbishop Vincent said: "Our politicians seem to live in a different world, a world that is purely secular and material, a world that does not permit a mature consideration of the key role of religious belief. Behind this is the assertion that religious influences are bad for you, and that ignorance of religion is better than exposure to it and the study of it. Why is this so? It lies in the distorted and truncated notion of reason which shapes our society and, to a large extent, the education it offers.
“Quite simply we have sold our soul to a positivistic understanding of reason. By this is meant that knowledge and reasoning are limited to what can be positively seen, measured and physically tested through hypothesis, experiment and observation. What positive knowledge and reasoning cannot do is provide anything that is normative in value or moral judgement. They can discover, magnificently, what can be done. They cannot, properly, provide and answer to the question, 'But should it be done?' Moral reasoning overcomes the... 'individualism' of a positivist culture. A society which limits itself - and its education - to a positivistic understanding of reason will find itself unable to determine shared moral principles and values. Such a society will lack cohesion."
He continues: "How ironic it is that in our public culture a cynicism about religious faith has taken hold. Have we, quite simply, lost our nerve when it comes to the reality of religious belief? We have lost our nerve because, as a society, we have taken the road of relegating all these matters to the sphere of the private and of seeking to build our society, our cohesiveness, on the secular/material instead.
"Yet there will never be a truly cohesive society that does not take seriously the spiritual quest of its people... The rigorously secular, liberal project of community cohesion is mistaken in its fundamental view of the human person and simply will not work."
Amen and amen.
What a pity this man is unlikely to be appointed Archbishop of Westminster...