Gordon Brown does God – again.
And not only in charge, but doing God.
And in the interview, broadcast this morning at 8.00am, the Prime Minister insisted that Britain is still Christian country.
He further defended the right of worshippers to express their faith in public.
Which is convenient for him, but not so convenient for the odd nurse, teacher, foster parent, registrar or adoption agency.
Gordon Brown asserts that the country's values are ‘still based on traditional religious teachings’.
In that word alone is the evidence of the faith which dare not speak its name.
He says it is wrong that the devout should be forced to keep their beliefs private.
But the devout of all faiths do not feel they have to.
Just the Christians.
There has been a steady stream of public sector employees who have been stigmatised, suspended and even sacked for merely daring to talk about their personal beliefs. Nurses, teachers, registrars and adoption agencies are all obliged by the state to ‘keep their beliefs private’. An an EU equality directive has raised further fears that Christian groups might be sued by anyone who declares themselves offended by their words, practices or imagery.
The Prime Minister, whose father was a Church of Scotland minister, told Premier Christian Radio: "I think the role of religion and faith in what people sometimes call the public square is incredibly important. In Britain we are not a secular state as France is, or some other countries. It's true that the role of official institutions changes from time to time, but I would submit that the values that all of us think important – if you held a survey around the country of what people thought was important, what it is they really believed in, these would come back to Judaeo-Christian values, and the values that underpin all the faiths that diverse groups in our society feel part of."
It is just a pity that 12 years of New Labour have created such a context of hostility towards the faith which yielded those very liberties by which the faith is being cleansed from the public sphere.
Asked if he thought it would be better if Christianity were ‘privatised’, he replied: "I think it's impossible because when we talk about faith, we are talking about what people believe in, we are talking about the values that underpin what they do, we are talking about the convictions that they have about how you can make for a better society. So I don't accept this idea of privatisation – I think what people want to do is to make their views current. There is a moral sense that people have, perhaps 50 years ago the rules were more detailed and intrusive, perhaps now what we're talking about is boundaries, beyond which people should not go. And I think that's where it's important that we have the views of all religions and all faiths, and it's important particularly that we're clear about what kind of society we want to be. So I think the idea that you can say: 'What I do in my own life is privatised and I'm not going to try to suggest that these are values that can bind your society together', would be wrong."
He may not accept the idea of privatisation, but by talking about ‘boundaries’ and accommodating ‘the views of all religions and all faiths’, he certainly moves into the realm of 'privatisation'. What are boundaries to some are not to others; what is liberating to some is confining to others; what is innocuous to one is offensive to another.
And time and again Labour have sided with the offended, such that the two main groups to have benefited from a decade of equality legislation are the very loud, proud and mutually-exclusive homosexuals and Muslims. Peter Tatchell and Muhammad Abdul Bari now outrank the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster in the hierarchy of rights and in their access to the highest echelons of power; in the extent to which government heeds their every pronouncement and yields to their every demand.
And the one group which has endured systematic erosion of its liberties is the Christians.
The Prime Minister was asked directly if he believed the Government gave preferential treatment to Muslims. He responded: "When you've got a society that is diverse, what happens is for a time, the issue is integrating your minorities into that society. And so people want to make sure that people who may feel discriminated against have the chance to get jobs, or get education, or get chances that otherwise they might not have. Then people – rightly, I think – say: 'But what about the integration of your society as a whole – how can people work together, how can you have a more cohesive society'?"
That’ll be a yes then.
And it won’t just be ‘for a time’.
The Prime Minister needs to rediscover his ‘Presbyterian conscience’ soon.
Before it becomes illegal even to possess one.