Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Are the LibDems the compassionate side of Cameron’s Conservatism?


You don’t get many rats scurrying to join a sinking ship. The news that lawyer David Allen Green has joined the Liberal Democrats would not merit a mention upon this blog were it not for the fact the he writes for the New Statesman and tweets prominently (prolifically and incessantly). With his new party besieged by critics and slumping in the polls, and his new leader harangued and scorned by Gillian Duffy (no less), his conversion (if it be; he might simply have finally ‘come out’) is certainly contra the zeitgeist and completely counter-intuitive. Yet, knowing how people like underdogs, perhaps he is no different from those poor, misguided souls who have flocked to join Labour under Edward Miliband. It’s all quite unremarkable and perhaps perfectly explicable (especially if he wants a safe(-ish) seat under AV).

But David Allen Green’s reasoning for joining the LibDems at this particular juncture merits a little analysis. He points to articles (here and here) by Tim Montgomerie (blessings for the graphic), which suggest the current government is significantly more liberal than an entirely Conservative administration would otherwise be. And so Mr Green concludes (without any apparent comprehension of what Mr Montgomerie is doing): ‘There is only one political force which is having an actual liberal effect in our polity as it is presently constituted, and it is the Liberal Democrats... What the Liberal Democrats are doing in practice may not be popular, but it certainly should be commended by any liberal person.’

If perpetual liberalisation were Mr Green’s goal, it is bizarre indeed that he would give his support to a party which denies foundational tenets of JS Mill. Only devout anti-democrats would deny the British people a referendum on the inexorable assigning of powers to European Union institutions; and only totalitarian Marxists would seek to eradicate the Christian faith from the public sphere. Both of these Liberal Democrat macro-objectives are contrary to any notion of liberalism and antithetical to the majority democratic profession of the British people.

Essentially, Mr Green’s reason for joining the LibDems is that he believes they represent the liberal, rational, moderate and compassionate force in the coalition: whatever the 'nasty' Tories want to do, it is the LibDems who rein them in; soften them, moderate them, make their obnoxious policy somehow more palatable. That is the developing narrative, and it spells danger for the Conservatives.

But it is a crass analysis and an utterly superficial reading of the situation.

The Conservative Party has been a coalition since its inception: it has its ‘liberal’ wing inbuilt, and the extent to which it manifests itself in policy is dependent on the character and disposition of the Leader. Under David Cameron, there has been a focus on empowering communities because the sense of political community is intrinsic to people’s sense of the need for social community. This is part of his ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ agenda. It is not down to the LibDems: it is Conservatives who see that community is a fundamental human good because commitments and values are shared; the good life demands participation in a political community, and this requires communal participation in a political organisation of the widest scope, such as the nation state.

David Cameron is exploring the relational and social strands of conservatism consonant with the party’s Christian foundations: it is not original, for he is standing on the shoulders of Disraeli and his ‘One-Nation Conservatism’. The narrative focus is on welfare, family breakdown and ‘social justice’ in the context of traditional conservative themes like low taxation and the small state. Its proponents aver that social problems are better solved through cooperation with private companies, charities and religious institutions rather than directly through government departments. And so the ‘Centre for Social Justice’, headed by Roman Catholic MP and former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, issued the reports Breakdown Britain (2006) and Breakthrough Britain (2007) as a means of identifying the causes of social ills and encouraging stability.

This was a Conservative initiative: not a LibDem one.

Although the terms ‘One-Nation’ and ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ may be dismissed as vacuous electioneering sound-bites designed to make conservatism (or, rather, the Conservative Party) more appealing, there is little doubt that those involved in the formulation of policy are genuinely seeking ways of mitigating the polarisation of society evidenced in both Militant Socialism and what became known as ‘Thatcherism’. Yet, curiously, David Allen Green has not uttered a word in support of Margaret Thatcher’s conservatism, which was founded on personal freedom and the repudiation of bureaucratic vested interests, waste and economic stagnation.

It is not the LibDems who injected ‘social justice’ into the Conservative brew, but individual Conservatives who have worked patiently and doggedly behind the scenes throughout years of opposition. They seek to prioritise the moral and spiritual health of the nation just as much as Margaret Thatcher was concerned with its economic health. Under David Cameron, economic reality and moral concerns are no longer in conflict. Academics such as Professor Timothy Garton-Ash observed (a year before the election, Mr Green) that Britain now has ‘two social democratic parties’ lacking any real ideological differences: they are both capitalist; all that divides them is ‘the question of which form of capitalism works best’. And the political theorist and philosopher David Selbourne observed that the Conservative Party’s traditional themes ‘have largely disappeared...or can be glimpsed only in dilute, timid and half-baked forms’. He concluded: ‘It is as if the party, in its “modernised”, pick’n’mix condition, was embarrassed by the very impulse to conserve.’

These shifts of emphasis in Conservative philosophy and political policy have not come about as a result of coalition with the Liberal Democrats: under Nick Clegg, that party has become increasingly illiberal, undemocratic and corporatist. It is why they seek to exist ‘at the heart of Europe’, while the Whiggish and liberal wing of the Conservatives continues to agitate for liberty. If David Allen Green were really concerned with having ‘an actual liberal effect’, he would have joined the Conservative Party, for that is the only party in Parliament which sustains any understanding of the priorities of JS Mill.

61 Comments:

Anonymous David Allen Green said...

Ha ha!

And you were *so* nice to me before the Orwell prize longlist was announced ;-)

13 April 2011 at 10:42  
Anonymous Ed West said...

Sorry to go on about the B&Bs again, Archbish, but lets not forget the B&Bs. If that's liberalism, I'm a banana

13 April 2011 at 10:54  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr David Allen Green,

This is nothing to do with Orwell (His Grace has never been under any illusion that his writing is anything but cold baked beans upon a plate of blogosphere jewels, which you have duly long-listed); it is not ad hominem, but a reasoned and measured response. If His Grace had wished to exact some sort of revenge, he would have called you an ignorant cretin and left it at that! ;O)

Mr Ed West,

You are right to highlight the point (again). But in the context of the present post, the LibDems supported the policy and it is they who go by the moniker 'liberal'.

13 April 2011 at 11:01  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

The narrative focus is on welfare, family breakdown and ‘social justice’ in the context of traditional conservative themes like low taxation and the small state.

By reminding us of traditional Conservative core beliefs, Your Grace demonstrates how far the Tories, now enamoured of high taxes and the European big state, have moved to the Left. As Simon Heffer writes: ‘Perhaps it is the case, as some troublemakers on the Right of the Conservative Party have said, that Mr Cameron despises them and their politics so much that he wants them bred out of his party.’

13 April 2011 at 11:18  
Blogger Elly said...

'His Grace has never been under any illusion that his writing is anything but cold baked beans upon a plate of blogosphere jewels, which you have duly long-listed)'

- a jewel of a sentence to beat any I have seen from that pile of cold baked beans that is the Orwell Longlist (apart from Heseriach)

13 April 2011 at 11:22  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Once again, thanks for this "reasoned and measured response" (yes it is).

Nail on head award to "It is not the LibDems who injected ‘social justice’ into the Conservative brew, but individual Conservatives who have worked patiently and doggedly behind the scenes throughout years of opposition."

Mr Green's coming out declaration suggests that he has made the right choice for him: as one of the shallower chancers such as so many others who band together in the LibDem fold.

Marginal note: "... contra the zeitgeist and completely counter-intuitive..." True, but not neecessarily as words of denigration. Such is the inherent equivocation of polemic that this could be said of Cranmer's blogs and some of the comments, which may make some (such as shown in right hand panel) so uncomfortable as to cry out "... contra the zeitgeist and completely counter-intuitive..." --badge of honour?

13 April 2011 at 11:24  
Blogger English Viking said...

Your Grace,

I made a lengthy post, but the ether ate it.

If you took it down, or refused to put it up, you'll lknow what it said. If you did not, here is the abbreviated version.

Cameron (and the LibLabCons) support homosexuality, nay actively promote it. They have done nothing to reduce the dreadful levels of abortions. They promote and fund (via the taxpayer) all sorts of dreadful cults and idolatries. They steal from the poor to give to the rich. I can o on and on, the point is, they care not one jot about morals nor the spiritual health of the nation. You're saying they do is a palpable lie.

I know you do not readily converse with racist thought-criminals, but a civil (your are always civil, I'll give you that) answer to a civil question would be appreciated.

Is there a level of wickedness the LibLabCon can reach, at which you would withdraw your support for it, and call on others to do the same, and if so, are you close?

13 April 2011 at 11:25  
Anonymous MrJ said...

English Viking_I found the same happened when first sending 11:24 above, and it has happened before. It seems to occur when another commenter is pipping the post.

13 April 2011 at 11:35  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ English Viking (11:25)—Is there a level of wickedness the LibLabCon can reach, at which you would withdraw your support for it, and call on others to do the same, and if so, are you close?

Not so much hitting the nail on the head as sliding a stiletto between the ribs. His Grace’s silence is deafening.

13 April 2011 at 12:01  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Mr English Viking and MrJ, my posts frequently disappear, and then sometimes re-appear half an hour or an hour latter, or not at all.

We are fortunate indeed that His Grace has an unswerving commitment to freedom of speech and would never censor. I regard these disappearances as a Holy Mystery that proves the possibility of Divine Intervention.

And I am thankful.

13 April 2011 at 12:07  
Anonymous Peter Risdon said...

The idea of removing religion (not just Christianity) from the political and educational aspects of public life is secularism, not marxism. J.S. Mill was a secularist; if Mr Green is the same he's well placed in the Liberal Party.

13 April 2011 at 12:16  
Anonymous MrJ said...

"His Grace’s silence is deafening". Worth waiting for, but not holding breath. Meantime, as a village explainer might say, each is left to his/her own judgement, and HG may be reluctant to exert undue (emphasis) influence.

What difference could such a disclosure make to the those with forcefully expressed comments such as English Viking? The more discussion HG's crafted remarks evoke, the more potentially informative the comments, and possibly interesting or instructive. Such as the link to Ann Bernhardt or other sites.

13 April 2011 at 12:22  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

Cranmer said:
"only totalitarian Marxists would seek to eradicate the Christian faith from the public sphere."

Something of an over statement. Sigmund Freud advocated the same seeing all religion as a mass delusion necessary to restrain human passions.

What is 'christianity'? I'm not sure that the State through an Established Church has the right to propagate one version of this. Has the State the right to uphold one set of christian doctrines and dogmas over another set?

Or are we simply referring to the underlying christian 'values', based on the 10 Commandments, underpinning western culture? Valuable certainly. Not really 'christian' when seperated from the substance and underlying narrative of the fall and salvationn through Christ.

I've often wondered what the course of our great faith might have been if it had avoided the union with Imperial Rome. Was this God's intention or would christianity be even stronger today?

No, whatever the past, I think, on balance, it's better to leave individuals and individual churches to take responsibility for the faith of their adherents, including Islam, Judaism and the rest. The role of the State should be minimal.

Alternatively, if the State is to uphold christianity, then nit must take a stand on all the ungodly practices it permits under the law and this requires it to be clear on its doctrines and dogmas and this was rejected as being inconsistent with individual 'liberty' centuries ago. A 'christian' state that permits abortion? Homosexuality? Divorce? IVF?

I'm not a Marxist but I'd defend my right to be one - or a Jedi Knight for that matter!

13 April 2011 at 12:36  
Blogger English Viking said...

Bluedog,

I would have agreed with you until yesterday, when I was most unfortunately censored by His Grace.

13 April 2011 at 12:49  
Blogger Ernst Stavro Blofeld Ambassador to Vedics and other medical professions + Tiddles said...

Your Grace states;

"David Cameron is exploring the relational and social strands of conservatism consonant with the party’s Christian foundations (LOL..Anymore than Blair's was in defence of Labour's?) ): it is not original, for he is standing on the shoulders of Disraeli and his ‘One-Nation Conservatism’ (He is urinating on those shoulders from a great height). The narrative focus is on welfare, family breakdown and ‘social justice’ in the context of traditional conservative themes like low taxation and the small state.(As if money is soley the reason or the mecahnism for this and it's cure. This is like confusing the after effects of a debilitating disease on the body but refusing to treat the disease itself.) Its proponents aver that social problems are better solved through cooperation with private companies, charities and religious institutions rather than directly through government departments (Give them access to spout quaint philosophical platitudes and secularist intentions, to bandage up the malignant wounds?..Amoral profit seeking private companies..lol
Do not the rich as well as the poor do bad things for money and are there not rich and poor who refuse to steal or cheat? It's in the nations soul, this disease).

And so the ‘Centre for Social Justice’, headed by Roman Catholic MP and former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith, issued the reports Breakdown Britain (2006) and Breakthrough Britain (2007) as a means of identifying the causes of social ills and encouraging stability.(We are Christless as a nation and it shows, oh how it shows)."

The Reason why Old Ernsty is APOLITICAL!

E S Blofeld

13 April 2011 at 12:56  
Anonymous Oswin said...

The ONLY hand available to the Lib-Dems, is to play the (wholly erroneous) strap-on 'Mr. Nice Guy' appendage.

One wonders how long the Tory Party are prepared to tolerate this parasitic 'tic' upon the corporate body politic? Present convenience, and mixed metaphors aside, it cannot last forever in its current form.

13 April 2011 at 13:00  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

English Viking said...
"Bluedog,
I would have agreed with you until yesterday, when I was most unfortunately censored by His Grace."

Didums ...

13 April 2011 at 13:01  
Anonymous Oswin said...

The Last Dodo extant (sorry, I couldn't resist!):

Confucius say: 'Man slinging custard-pie must be wary of returning axe!'

13 April 2011 at 13:14  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our country has been annexed by the anti-Christian Marxist EU. We are being ruled by a succession of Lib/Lab/Con Quislings. Nothing more, nothing less.

Apathy and ignorance will see AV passed based on the “yes” votes of a tiny minority of the eligible electorate. This will strengthen the hand of the pro-EU parties unless everyone puts anti-EU parties first on their list and either omits to vote for Lib/Lab/Con or puts this treacherous cabal last. It is our last democratic option. After that comes the North African solution.

13 April 2011 at 13:37  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Mr J: "English Viking_I found the same happened when first sending 11:24 above, and it has happened before. It seems to occur when another commenter is pipping the post."

Indeed. I reckon there's some sort of mutex issue with assigning post IDs or something with blogger. I always highlight and ctrl-c the lot now before sending and then refresh afterwards.

13 April 2011 at 13:53  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Peter: "The idea of removing religion (not just Christianity) from the political and educational aspects of public life is secularism, not marxism."

Hurrah!

I'm a secularist, a fan of JS Mill, and certainly not a Marxist. I just want religion out of the State apparatus. It can stay in the public (i.e. common) space as far as I am concerned. It seems convenient sometimes for religionists to conflate the two positions and damn them as one.

13 April 2011 at 13:59  
Blogger MFH said...

DanJo

I am sorry it is impossible for me to divorce my politics from my religion.
My religion is who I am, and so it is the hue and guidance of all my life. (and of the life to come).
I am a servant, (albeit not a very good one) of Jesus Christ at home at work at church- in fact everywhere.
Any politician with a true religion will be the same.

13 April 2011 at 14:52  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

"I am sorry it is impossible for me to divorce my politics from my religion."

That's okay. What we secularists usually mean is that we don't have (say) CofE bishops in the House of Lords simply because they're bishops, we don't create laws which rely on religious text or interpretations, we don't teach religious dogma in schools though teaching comparative religious studies is fine of course, we don't favour one religion over another simply because of dogma, and so on. We live in a diverse and free society so all this ought to be common sense really.

13 April 2011 at 14:59  
Blogger William said...

Banning religion from our government and schools in the name of freedom and diversity.

Priceless!

13 April 2011 at 15:13  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Peter Risdon 13 April 12:16_ One could guess what point he was making. There is internal evidence that when he used Mraxist he meant it.

13 April 2011 at 15:40  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Last Dodo 12:36..."I'm not sure that the State through an Established Church has the right to propagate one version of this [Christianity]."

Within the realm of the United Kingdom, a territory subject to laws enacted by the Queen in Parliament, the Anglican Church is by law established in England. The origins and history of this state of affairs from Saxon times are too well known to mention here, but include a succession of papal edicts and the passing of Acts of Parliament. The issue is not as implied in the words quoted but of Church Government: ask the Scots and the Welsh, for a start.

I would not dissent from much of the sentiments you have expressed there, but the rise of Islamism should not go unnoticed, for reasons often remarked by commenters on Cranmer's blog.

btw_ I'm not sure that it is quite the thing to respond "Didums" to English Viking, whether or not Oswin could be relied on to tell an axe from a custard pie.

13 April 2011 at 15:56  
Blogger Bred in the bone said...

Children, Children!

Behave or the Ugly Ogre under the (bed/bridge) will gobble you up.

13 April 2011 at 15:56  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Mr.J @ 15:56

Was that humour, or a sneer?

13 April 2011 at 16:17  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

William: "Banning religion from our government and schools in the name of freedom and diversity.

Priceless!"
I know! Who would have thought that limiting freedom in one area might increase freedom in another! Amazing!

13 April 2011 at 16:26  
Blogger English Viking said...

Mr J,

Names are being noted, don't you worry.

13 April 2011 at 16:30  
Anonymous MrJ said...

Oswin, perhaps it would be rash to say, seeing that English Viking is noting names, but I feel confident that noone yet this pm has lost their sense of humour.

Now, let us return to the discussion proper....

13 April 2011 at 16:41  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

MrJ said...
"Last Dodo 12:36...
I'm not sure that it is quite the thing to respond "Didums" to English Viking, whether or not Oswin could be relied on to tell an axe from a custard pie."

Oh, he's a big boy Mr J. with a heart of gold. I'm sure he doesn't mind too much.

13 April 2011 at 16:53  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

MFH said...
"DanJo
I am sorry it is impossible for me to divorce my politics from my religion."

How many of us write and ask our MP's how they will vote on euthenasia (a Bill was presented in Scotland last year), abortion, adoption law, homosexuality, IVF etc.? Not many I predict or else the christian agenda would play a greater part in elections.

"Any politician with a true religion will be the same."

Agreed - but do we know their religion - do we ask? And look at how 'we' (media) take the mickey out of those that do.

13 April 2011 at 16:58  
Blogger William said...

"I know! Who would have thought that limiting freedom in one area might increase freedom in another! Amazing"

Which freedoms would be increased by banning religion from the government/classroom? And why are they more important than religious freedoms?

13 April 2011 at 17:36  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

William: "Which freedoms would be increased by banning religion from the government/classroom? And why are they more important than religious freedoms?"

Well, I could no doubt write a long post but I shall start with one: the freedom from political interfence in the legislature by the CofE through the House of Lords.

Why is it more important than religious freedoms? In a secular state in a liberal society like ours, people still have religious freedoms. In fact, the form of them is protected by fundamental rights. It's just that a secular State does not empower one particular minority religion over any other.

I'm not sure whether you have the measure of what freedom actually means. It comes in two parts: the lack of coercion and the lack of constraint.

13 April 2011 at 18:36  
Blogger William said...

Danj0

I don't think you can argue that the increase in freedom of removing the "coercion" of the Bishops of the House of Lords outweighs the decrease in freedom of banning religions from the legislative process, while Christianity is shown to be the religion of the majority of this country.

Do you have any other examples where banning all religions increase our freedoms? You seemed to imply that there were lots.

13 April 2011 at 21:34  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Why can't I argue that? There are something like 3 million church-going Christians (a fair chunk of whom are Catholic not CofE) in this country, perhaps a similar number of gay people, between 2 and 3 million muslims, perhaps a million Hindus, a very large number of 'religion-lites', and various assorted others. On what basis should the State be promoting and propagating CofE Christianity over all of that? Where's the political legitimacy there?

Other examples? Here's another. We have faith schools which promote particular religions to children. Children are vulnerable, particularly in the area of belief as Proverbs 22:6 might suggest. Schools are for teaching knowledge and life skills useful to all of us, not for proselytising particular and diverse religious beliefs, and the State, which is the agent of all of us, should have no part in it. Parents have the freedom outside school hours to proselytise to their offspring if they must.

So, where were we on freedom and pricelessness? You realise there is the notion of positive freedom and negative freedom, right? JS Mill made some statements on it regarding liberty and paternalism but Isaiah Berlin wrote the most famous tract on it.

Here's an example: all school leavers in the UK with sufficient aptitude have the negative freedom (lack of constraint) to compete for university places in the UK ... but some don't even consider it. Some have been brought up to constrain themselves by (say) their ideas of own i.e. their family's social class. Does (say) actively encouraging them increase their actual freedom when they have as much negative freedom as anyone else? Should the State be doing that? Is that paternalism, or utilitarianism, or social justice, or [...]?

14 April 2011 at 07:26  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Mr Danjo, you can argue any point you like. but drawing on the CIA country factbook, the UK is 71.6% Christian, 2.7% Muslim, 1% Hindu and 1.6% Other.

That leaves 23.1% Unspecified.

A pro-rata dispersion of the Unspecified cohort allocates 71.6% of their number to the Christian bloc, being 16.5%. Aggregate estimated Christians therefore rise to 88% of the total population, or 52.8m saved souls.

Before the Papal visit, the Roman church was talking about 6 million British Catholics. Deduct 6 million Catholics from the 52.8m Christians and you are left with 46.8m Protestants of one stripe or another. The fact that not everyone of them goes to church every Sabbath should not be taken as lack of belief. Why shouldn't this Protestant majority arrange things on their own terms?

They would appear to have a democratic (politically legitimate) right to do so if they choose.

14 April 2011 at 08:58  
Blogger William said...

Danjo

Going to church is not the definition of being a Christian. Jesus did not say blessed are those who go to church. The majority of people in this country identify themselves as Christian. You are imposing a ban based on your minority belief. That is a net decrease in freedom.

We teach our children things based on all kinds of evidence (historical, scientific, theological). The majority of people in this country have religious beliefs. Imposing a ban on teaching those beliefs in school is another infringement of our freedoms.

"Schools are for teaching knowledge and life skills useful to all of us"

Of course! That's why I send my children to a Christian school.

14 April 2011 at 09:12  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

"Going to church is not the definition of being a Christian."

Indeed. But we've all been here before many times I think. Here's a thing: go around your workplace and ask everyone whether they believe Jesus was both man and god who lived, died, and rose from the dead to metaphysically release mankind from their so-called sins. I bet you won't get 71.9% or anything like that agreeing. Most people will look embarrassed I expect and might mumble that they like the sound of a Something watching over them, possibly with a cheery afterlife, and that's about it. Hardly a Christian belief system.

"You are imposing a ban based on your minority belief. That is a net decrease in freedom."

It doesn't have to be a net amount. Why should Muslims or Hindus or atheists or the vague pay for State education to promote a belief system across society which is not of their choosing? The State is a collective agent of all of us. As no-one can say that one religion or other is actually true, why promote it at all? It's not the State's job to do that and religious parents are free to do it anyway. Let's all pay for the communal gain of proper education and leave the wooo stuff to extra-curricular activities.

It's not the same as explaining how a human eye works, or why rainbows appear as they do, or teaching the various forms of writing, or teaching how to fix a car engine, or teaching how to interpret the imagery of paintings and (ahem) artistic posters. Those things are actually useful. No, it's bloody proselytising.

Does it matter? Well, apart from the fact that it is propagating unfounded belief systems, it's promoting social values based on those belief systems. Mostly it doesn't matter but what about (say) stem cell research? I think we're on the verge of a major medical breakthrough at the moment where stem cells can be used to regenerate (say) failed kidneys. All this is despite opposition to the research based on mere religious belief. What about the freedoms of those who want to see stem cell research and potentially benefit from it? The State is essentially biasing the debate and it shouldn't be doing so. Let the beliefs live or die in private space.

14 April 2011 at 13:24  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

Isn't the real test of 'Christianity' living life according to the teachings of Christ and the precepts of the Bible as we and our church(es) understand them?

Christian Britain? Abortion, divorce, homosexuality, pre-marital sex, decline in marriage, Sunday just another working day for many, IVF etc. etc.

It is not the role of the State to impose moral standards - it's the role of citizens to live life according to their beliefs and to have the State set boundaries protecting the right to do so.

That's secular pluralism - that's modern liberal democracy. It's a natural consequence of the Protestant Reformation and the 'Enlightenment'.

We've abandoned rule through the Divine Right of Kings and by Popes - rightly or wrongly. They led to an abuse of power.

14 April 2011 at 14:21  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

If the State is right in promoting a particular religion in our diverse and nominally free society then why not formally take some editorial control of the mainstream media to promote it too? Why just limit itself to proselytising to children when it could go for adults too?

14 April 2011 at 15:42  
Blogger William said...

Danj0

I am not advocating the state promotion of religion. I am taking issue with your proposal to ban all religions from the government and classroom in the name of freedom, when it is quite clearly against freedom.

Anyway, what makes you so sure that all Muslims, Hindus or even Atheists for that matter, object to Christian schools? You are like the headteacher who banned Gideon Bibles in his school on the basis that they might offend.

Typical socialist clap-trap.

And so what if some do object? Is this not the same as Christians having to pay for parts of state education that goes against their beliefs?

14 April 2011 at 17:49  
Anonymous len said...

The mainstream Media is firmly under control and certainly not by Christians.The choice of whether one becomes a Christian or not is left entirely up to personal Choice.
No forced conversion in Christianity today!
But secularism the 'religion' of 'clever people' is taught in schools through the Theory of Evolution (taught as fact)and the ridiculing of Christian principles by the left leaning teaching profession.
In anyone is being 'brainwashed' it is our youth, guided away from Christianity and the Truth being virtually 'led up the garden path'
by Marxist doctrines!
.......
"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it!" ( J Goebbels)

(This could have been written about the Theory of Evolution and is the foundation stone for bringing in a Godless, Secular,man orientated State.)

14 April 2011 at 17:51  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

William: "I am taking issue with your proposal to ban all religions from the government and classroom in the name of freedom, when it is quite clearly against freedom."

Or clearly not, depending on one's arguments. Schools are a social institution, regulated by the State. Their primary purpose, though it is rarely put as bluntly as this, is to create society members who are functional and productive. We all pay on that basis, otherwise schools would be completely private institutions.

Why should some schools try to (say) proselytise over Islam, thus nominally encouraging Muslims to segregate their kids for much of the day from the children of parents with other religious beliefs, and vice versa? Simply to give Muslim parents the freedom of choice over the social institution of a school? What about the kids? Are we potentially reducing their freedoms in later life by allowing their parents to restrict their life experiences?

14 April 2011 at 18:59  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Len: "(This could have been written about the Theory of Evolution and is the foundation stone for bringing in a Godless, Secular,man orientated State.)"

Except it's almost certainly true and we really ought to be telling the truth as far as possible. Really, who believes in creationism except the fringe-religious or the educationally-challenged?

14 April 2011 at 19:02  
Blogger William said...

Danj0

"Schools are a social institution, regulated by the State. Their primary purpose, though it is rarely put as bluntly as this, is to create society members who are functional and productive"

There speaks the childless atheist.

"We all pay on that basis"

I don't.

Danj0 Bottom line: you have no mandate to ban religion from the government/classroom. Therefore, to do so would be an overall reduction in our freedom (because banning in and of itself reduces freedom). You could of course argue that all religions are mad, bad and dangerous to know and should be banned, but you chose to argue that they should be banned in the name of freedom which is quite ridiculous given that most people are religious.

14 April 2011 at 19:44  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

"You could of course argue that all religions are mad, bad and dangerous to know and should be banned, but you chose to argue that they should be banned in the name of freedom which is quite ridiculous given that most people are religious."

Well, I don't argue that all religions are mad, bad, and dangerous. They're of dubious benefit, I'd say, and in all likelihood false but hey. And when they try to interfere with (say) stem cell research then it's a big problem.

Of course, most people are not actually religious. That's just an attempt by the religious to hold on to their hegemony in my view. I don't think most people are even spiritual either, in the vaguest sense of the word.

I notice you talk about 'ban' which is an emotive and loaded word. What we're talking about is philosophy here. Like arguing for a republic might be on wider meritocracy grounds rather than just a ban on Kings and Queens.

What I'm arguing for is a separation of church and state, or more properly a seperation of religion and state, as a matter of philosophy really.

Banning (say) mobile phones in the classroom reduces freedom for the child owning the phone but arguably increases the freedom of the rest of the class as a result. No doubt the phone owner cries that it is a restriction of his freedom too. Such is the nature of freedom, of course.

14 April 2011 at 20:18  
Anonymous len said...

Danjo,
I used to think( quite naively,I see now) that once people knew the truth that it would bring about a change in their lives and their perception of reality.
I know see that most people are not interested in the truth. As Pilate said" what is truth?"When the Truth(Jesus Christ) stood before him.

Jesus`s response is silence.
When presented with the Truth some cannot comprehend it even when Truth stares them in the face, unable or unwilling to accept it because the Truth will overturn their lives and value systems.The truth is too traumatic for some to grasp or accept, so they reject it|(Him)and walk away.
To accept the Truth has a price, and takes a great deal of courage, and many(most) will not pay it!.

15 April 2011 at 18:44  
Anonymous MrJ said...

len said_"...people are not interested in the truth. As Pilate said 'what is truth?' When the Truth (Jesus Christ) stood before him."

Pilate knew he needed the answer to the question but found himself helpless (as a governor and judge appointed by the Roman authorties) confronted by the false witness of the religious authorities of the Temple at Jerusalem, the refusal of Herod the tetrarch to accept jurisdiction, and himself finding no fault in the accused who was "the man".

This remains as the question for all in authority and all truth-seekers, and Pilate is singled out in the Creeds by name as a perpetual reminder of the dilemma which troubles conscience and remorse.

15 April 2011 at 19:07  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Len, I try to help but, as you say, it falls on deaf ears most of the time. I know there's a sort of comfort in holding on to certainties even when they're obviously false but, really, it's very liberating to see stuff as it actually is.

15 April 2011 at 19:20  
Anonymous len said...

And who do you say Jesus is Danjo?

In reality Jesus trial was ours.

16 April 2011 at 07:49  
Anonymous DanJ0 said...

Len, I have almost no historical information about Jesus as a person. I do assume he i.e. the man referred to by the earlier churches existed.

I know something about the political climate of the day in Palestine. This was spoofed rather well by the Life of Brian film where, as you probably know, Jesus made a cameo appearance.

As such, I expect he was a visionary and an off-message religious man. I think his story was probably molded after his death to fit into the known prophesies of Daniel, Isaiah etc and a particular version extracted after the catastrophic fall of Jerusalem where the conditions for a new religion were optimal.

But who knows after all this time? My starting point, of course, is that people who suffer brain death and are dead for many hours do not subsequently return to life.

There are also many stories of people being healed in various ways but none, it has to be said, involving amputees. When I see an amputee get his leg restored by a laying on of hands then I will believe in miracles like those described.

16 April 2011 at 08:15  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

len
I was taught Faith is a gift freely given by God, not arrived at intellectually. Our 'choice' is to accept or reject the gift once it is offered.

16 April 2011 at 15:35  
Anonymous Oswin said...

The Last Dodo: perhaps God allows us to come to him by divers routes and, once arrived, we are then free to accept His gift?

Intellect/soul/spiritual intuition/whatever, the portal is unimportant, as is the road to that portal equally diverse.

What concerns me most, is how one summons the courage (whatever word) to grasp the gift?

There are, I find, two parts to 'faith' - the first, acceptance of God's existance and dominion; I find that to be the easier of the two. The more difficult being the 'embracing' (probably the wrong word) of the gift. I trust in God, but not necessarily in myself; I do not know HOW that final transaction is reconciled... I feel that it may well be be a quite a simple thing, but it evades me.

16 April 2011 at 16:42  
Blogger William said...

Oswin

Yes indeed and I think that that final stage centres around two questions ( for me at least ); does God really love me such that He would die for me and am I really worthy of that love. This is where I think that the Spirit is so important. It is His witness of God's love that "clinches the deal" so to speak. But whether the step of faith comes before the spirit or vice versa I do not know.

16 April 2011 at 18:21  
Blogger The Last Dodo said...

Oswin/William - all our roads to God are indeed different, as was the Apostles and St Paul.

I'm not too sure how it all works, that's part of the adventure. For me the existance of a God is beyond dispute. Then the search for whether this God is knowable. And only enough revelation as I could deal with.

Sin and temptation is always there, of course. One part of this is to deny the existance of the Father revealed by the Son and the Spirit,

16 April 2011 at 19:44  
Anonymous Oswin said...

William and Dodo, thank you both; although I am not really any the wiser. I accept all that has been said, but the end piece, as it were, seems beyond my grasp.

However, I reckon God has enough on his hands without having to worry about one confused sheep. I don't like to bother him too greatly, or too often, on an issue that I can't even adequately express, in any meaningful and coherent way.

All help and wisdom fully appreciated!

17 April 2011 at 18:39  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Perhaps it is best to stop all attempts to 'grasp' (?) and to cary-on, carrying on; and to just trust to God?

17 April 2011 at 18:42  
Blogger William said...

Oswin

"However, I reckon God has enough on his hands without having to worry about one confused sheep. I don't like to bother him too greatly, or too often, on an issue that I can't even adequately express, in any meaningful and coherent way."

It is my understanding that God specialises in confused sheep. And that He particularly likes to be bothered by them (e.g. Luke 11:5-13).

Thank God :)

17 April 2011 at 23:36  
Anonymous Oswin said...

William: Amen to that!

Well, I reckon he does too, but some of us must be a sore trial, regardless. Cheers.

18 April 2011 at 15:59  

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