The Prime Minister's 'hush hush' Christmas gathering for Christian leaders
The Almighty must be despairing. Cranmer is certainly bemused.
He cannot recall a time in history when church bells have pealed for the success of a political summit.
It is perhaps as inappropriate as the call to prayer issued by the Rev Nicky Gumbel at a ‘hush-hush reception’ (?) for Christian leaders at 10 Downing Street. Perhaps the Prime Minister did not wish to be seen consorting with eccentrics and odd-balls.
But it is ironic that the event was ‘hush hush’, considering the Prime Minister addressed the gathered church leaders and declared: ‘I don’t subscribe to the view that we are a secular society,’ he said. ‘Christian values are at the centre of national life. We are our brother’s keeper.’
But only in a ‘hush hush’ kind of way.
God forbid that anyone might find out the Prime Minister is hosting anything so bigoted as a gathering of exclusively Christian leaders at the taxpayers’ expense. And at that narrow sectarian time of Christmas, too.
And God forbid that any of those Christian leaders might do anything so inappropriate as to pray. Especially if it is ‘for Gordon Brown and for the success of the Copenhagen summit’.
There is, of course, exhortation to pray for those who lead us. But to pray for the success of the Copenhagen summit at a gathering of church leaders who might represent some diverse opinion on the matter is wholly inappropriate. Nicky Gumbel’s presumption apparently divided the ecumenical gathering: ‘Everybody there had some connection with Christian churches and maybe some members of the more evangelical, Pentecostal churches were comfortable with it. But a lot of traditional church people found it deeply awkward and inappropriate.’
One guest said: “It was all very jolly then suddenly went serious for an uncomfortable three or four minutes of prayer. Mr Brown made a speech before it, which was doubly strange as everybody there knew that he has always been canny about his religion. Indeed Mr Brown’s administration has repeatedly come under criticism for promoting a multicultural Britain to the detriment of Christianity.”
Among the 150 guests were Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, who (sadly) has declined the peerage offered by the Prime Minister.
The Archbishop of Canterbury could not attend the reception ‘due to a prior commitment’.
It was obviously so ‘hush hush’ that the Prime Minister did not bother to get his diary secretary to liaise with Lambeth Palace. Dr Williams is, after all, only the leader of the Established Church.
One wonders if there has been a little falling out.
Or perhaps the Archbishop did not wish to be upstaged by Nicky Gumbel.
Or the Cardinal Archbishop.
Or any of the other 148 guests on the ‘hush hush’ list.
Merry Christmas, Prime Minister. Had Cranmer been invited, he would have prayed that this might be your last in Downing Street. And he would have coughed and spluttered like a demon-possessed goblin during the incantation to Gaia for the success of Copenhagen.