Saturday, September 10, 2011

Is David Cameron finding it hard to 'do God'?

His Grace was somewhat irritated on Wednesday watching PMQs; not so much by the manner in which the Prime Minister dealt with a question by Nadine Dorries, but by the way he responded to David Burrowes MP, who asked the Prime Minister if, in the wake of the riots, this would be an opportune moment to support the Global Day of Prayer (next Saturday, at Wembley). There was no mention of a particular religion or even of God, and certainly no utterance of the name of Jesus.

Here’s the iPlayer link: fast forward to 0.45.50 to hear the question and response, or, rather, the lack of response. The Prime Minister gave his fervent support to the Mayor, the DCLG and to a £20million scheme to help rebuild the areas worst hit. But he pointedly avoided giving even a word of support to the Global Day of Prayer. One wonders why? What possible harm could it have done?

By way of contrast, last year Boris Johnson not only endorsed the event; he was physically present and publicly prayed with Church leaders. He said: “I congratulate all of you who have come here today because you could be watching the World Cup." And then, referring to England's disappointing start in the tournament, he shared a little parable: "I believe passionately that the message of the Christian faith is that you can come back if you don't get the best possible start in life, because there are people to help you. That's what Christianity means to me and that's what Christian groups do all over London."

Further, a letter from the White House landed in His Grace’s in-box yesterday, calling an entire nation to prayer. It is ironic – is it not – that a country with a professing Anglican Prime Minister and an Established Church is manifestly embarrassed by the prospect of prayer, while the President of the secular USA, with its strict separation of church and state, can issue a decree for entire days dedicated to the pursuit.
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release September 9, 2011

- - - - - - -


Ten years ago, a bright September day was darkened by the worst terrorist attack on America in our Nation's history. On this tenth anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, we lift in prayer and remembrance the men, women, and children who died in New York City, in Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon, and we honor the countless heroes who responded to senseless violence with courage and compassion. We continue to stand with their families and loved ones, while striving to ensure the legacy of those we lost is a safer, stronger, and more resilient Nation.

Since that day, a generation has come of age bearing the burden of war. The 9/11 Generation of service members and their families has stepped up to defend our security at home and abroad. They volunteer, knowing they might be sent into harm's way, and they uphold the virtues of selflessness and sacrifice that have always been at the center of our Nation's strength. We pay humble tribute to all those who serve in our Armed Forces, and to the thousands of brave Americans who have given their last full measure of devotion during this difficult decade of war.

First responders, law enforcement officials, service members, diplomats -- the range of Americans who have dedicated themselves to building a safer world is awe-inspiring. We have put unprecedented pressure on those who attacked us 10 years ago and put al-Qa'ida on the path to defeat. Around the globe, we have joined with allies and partners to support peace, security, prosperity, and universal rights. At home, communities have come together to make us a stronger country, united by our diversity, our character, and our enduring principles.

Today, our Nation still faces great challenges, but this last decade has proven once more that, as a people, we emerge from our trials stronger than before. During these days of prayer and remembrance, a grateful Nation gives thanks to all those who have given of themselves to make us safer. And in memory of the fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and friends and loved ones taken from us 10 years ago, let us join again in common cause to build a more hopeful world.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Friday, September 9 through Sunday, September 11, 2011, as National Days of Prayer and Remembrance. I ask that the people of the United States honor and remember the victims of September 11, 2001, and their loved ones through prayer, contemplation, memorial services, the visiting of memorials, the ringing of bells, evening candlelight remembrance vigils, and other appropriate ceremonies and activities. I invite people around the world to participate in this commemoration.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
ninth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

# # #


Blogger Albert said...

I don't think it is really acceptable for the PM to avoid answering MP's questions. I can understand that at times, it may be hard to address a question fully under the circumstances, but to refuse completely to answer a question shows a contempt for the electorate.

Cameron has really sunk in my estimation over the abortion issue - he just appears without theme or principle - so it doesn't surprise me that he refused to be drawn on the Global Day of Prayer. The fact that he has been outdone on prayer by the most infanticidal President imaginable, says it all.

10 September 2011 at 09:59  
Blogger English Viking said...

Your Grace,

The Kenyan mentions no God by name either.

What an utterly futile exercise; to pray to a God with no name, whilst in open rebellion to the one, true, living God, hoping some 'niceness' might 'rub off' in the process.

God has a special place for Cameron.

Vile little man. Utterly vile.

10 September 2011 at 10:03  
Blogger bluedog said...

Your Grace, there is a certain majesty and poetry about US Presidential proclamations. The United Staes may be notionally secular but it is in its very fibre, deeply Christian. 'In God we trust' are not words that any European political leader could say today without a smirk. But the US President, whatever his background, must sound sincere, convinced and convincing when he asks, 'God bless the United States.'

Hell will freeze over before we hear Dave asking God to bless the United Kingdom.

10 September 2011 at 11:23  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Perhaps David Cameron is disinclined to attend an Evangelical Christian event. He may not feel it appropriate for any number of personal reasons. Or maybe he just didn't want to say.

Is a Prime Minister obliged to answer direct or indirect questions in the House pertaining to his private religious beliefs and intentions? Mr Cameron may not believe praying for the success of the London 2012 Olympics will transform the nation.

By contrast, President Obama's call to pray has a very specific focus as part of a national healing process in America.

10 September 2011 at 11:49  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I'm not getting the purpose of this event at all. What's it supposed to achieve?

10 September 2011 at 12:30  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@DanJ0 ...

But do you understand the purpose of prayer at all?

"Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land" 2 Chronicles 7:14

10 September 2011 at 12:39  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

This brief exchange highlights several depressing traits:

- The complete lack of democratic debate or accountability there is. Parliament is now largely an anachronism. PMQ's doesn't serve to get honest answers to important questions but merely to present propaganda. In the same way, Parliamentary 'debates' no longer serve their function. The debates do not persuade or influence MP's on how they are to vote. They simply read their prepared speeches and then vote exactly the way we knew they were going to vote before they went into the debate - i.e. the way the whips demand.

- The complete contempt the ruling elite now have for the . They no longer even bother to pay lip service to the One in whose name they swear allegiance. I'm not sure which is worse, Cameron's complete ignoring of the question, or Blair's contemptuous smirk at Dr Paisley's call for a national day of prayer. "If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels."

- The lack of leadership from our the leadership of the established church. Whenever they get given a platform they are willing to pontificate at great length on anything but the Gospel. When even they seem loathed to talk of our Lord & saviour, or call people to prayer or repentance, or uphold biblical standards, then it's hardly a surprise that our politicians don't. ICHABOD.

10 September 2011 at 13:29  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10 September 2011 at 14:26  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Rebel Saint

DanJ0 doesn't get the point of individual or collective parayer and refuses to accept Scripture.

However, it appears that the purpose of the event is to pary that the 2012 Olympics will transform the nation.

As I said, maybe David Cameron just doesn't want to attend this Evangelical Christian event or maybe he's not willing to say. In my opinion, that's his right.

Is this really a matter for Paliament

10 September 2011 at 14:29  
Blogger Oswin said...


His right as what, exactly; as an individual; or as the Prime Minister? Two very different things, surely?

I'm increasingly inclined towards English Viking's assessment; not that I needed much nudging.

10 September 2011 at 15:21  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...


I think both as an individual and as Prime Minister. In matters of faith are they really two different things? I thought it an inappropriate question to raise in the House.

10 September 2011 at 15:32  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Dodo,

Why do you persist in referring to Mr Cameron as having to 'attend' this event? That was not the question: he was asked simply to 'support' it, which he could have done merely by wishing the venture well.

Presumably, you would not feel the same way had (say) Edward Leigh asked (inappropriately or not) the Prime Minister to send his good wishes to those thousands of Roman Catholics who gathered for the beatification of Cardinal Newman. To have deflected such an innocuous invitation would have been interpreted by many of your co-religionists (not to mention others, including His Grace) as unnecessary rudeness. To have sent Roman Catholics his best wishes would not have been to endorse a whole theology.

10 September 2011 at 15:46  
Blogger Albert said...

I think as a Catholic I would want to approach this Global Day of Prayer with a warm generosity and so I feel Cameron's refusal to answer the question as something of a snub and an act of rude disrespect. It's not likely to be an event I would attend, but I could offer support or friendship to it.

Cameron would be perfectly happy supporting a gay pride event, despite the fact that, as the recent discussion over blood donors revealed, it is well-known that a gay life-style raises certain health risks (quite apart from any moral question). He'll support that and therefore promote a gay life-style but not a day of prayer.

He's just not quite convincing is he? Surely that's why, despite the fact that he was facing Gordon Brown at the end of a long and tired Labour term, he still couldn't win outright.

10 September 2011 at 16:34  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

Your Grace

We seem to be confusing Cameron with a ‘Statesman' with an honourable record of service. His limitations are all too obvious...

10 September 2011 at 16:42  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Mr Cranmer

What a storm in a tea cup! The Global Day of Prayer relates to the 2012 Olympics. Maybe Cameron just didn't want to "support" it for personal reasons. Who knows? You will note he did answer the specifically political question.

How do you know how I might to react to your hypothetical question? I wouldn't anticipate such a question arising during PM Question Time.

This may all say more about thee than me!

10 September 2011 at 18:47  
Blogger non mouse said...

Cameron has set himself up as a public figure. If his personal convictions clash with his public duties, then he should find another public to serve: that would be honourable.

But this little tin shrimp/god inverts the terms of service, does he not? He requires the public to serve him, and he answers to no one (in Britain).

And we let him get away with it: thus reducing all our lives to the level of his charade.

10 September 2011 at 19:06  
Blogger Preacher said...

IMO, there has been much truth & insight shown by my fellow contributors to this Blog.
However I would like to point out that we the Church are guilty of allowing prayer to be diminished in importance by our general lack of understanding about the power & importance of prayer.
Whilst the Mens breakfast with guest speaker will be sold out. The Big Church day out will attract thousands to hear their favourite worship leaders & the sheep will travel miles to hear an evangelist from the States who will ensure a liberal sprinkling of Gold dust or a 'Genuine' Angel feather (With Provenance).
The Prayer meeting consists of two old ladies (one deaf), the Pastor & the occasional passerby who wanted to admire the architecture & shelter from the rain.
When will we understand that a Church that doesn't pray is cut off from the source of its power. Or to put it another way,'If you don't ask, you don't get'. For a Christian, prayer to the living God is as vital as an air line to a deep sea diver.
We need to be praying to the Lord constantly & I don't mean the bland repetition that so often is offered as a sacrifice to God. When He hears passion & belief in our supplications He has promised to hear & respond.
It needs the undiluted prayers of the believers in Jesus or Yeshua as the Messianic believers would name Him. Or Adonai as the followers of Moses would address the Almighty. Not a pick & mix of different faiths, although HRH the Prince of Wales would probably approve.
Let the prayer be: "Rend the Heavens Lord & come down. Show yourself to the Nations that they may believe & that all men may see & find salvation through Jesus Christ". Who proclaimed that none could come to the Father but through Him. Amen.

10 September 2011 at 19:19  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Rebel: "But do you understand the purpose of prayer at all?"

The Catholic version on other versions? I don't understand the Catholic version (or my understanding of what it is) at all. But as a means of clearing one's mind to the Spiritual, I suppose it could have a value. Anyway, it's the global day thing that I really don't get. I'd have thought praying was better done privately for whatever version of it one chooses.

10 September 2011 at 20:12  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...


I agree with your sentiments.
As Jesus said " ... your Father knows what is needful for you, before you ask him." Still we should ask. Why?

"(Prayer) is the expression of our desires to God whether for ourselves or others. This expression is not intended to instruct or direct God what to do, but to appeal to His goodness for the things we need; and the appeal is necessary, not because He is ignorant of our needs or sentiments, but to give definite form to our desires, to concentrate our whole attention on what we have to recommend to Him, to help us appreciate our close personal relation with Him. The expression need not be external or vocal; internal or mental is sufficient.

By prayer we acknowledge God's power and goodness, our own neediness and dependence. It is therefore an act of the virtue of religion implying the deepest reverence for God and habituating us to look to Him for everything, not merely because the thing asked be good in itself, or advantageous to us, but chiefly because we wish it as a gift of God, and not otherwise, no matter how good or desirable it may seem to us. Prayer presupposes faith in God and hope in His goodness. By both, God, to whom we pray, moves us to prayer. Our knowledge of God by the light of natural reason also inspires us to look to Him for help, but such prayer lacks supernatural inspiration, and though it may avail to keep us from losing our natural knowledge of God and trust in Him, or, to some extent, from offending Him, it cannot positively dispose us to receive His Graces"
(Catholic Encyclopedia)

10 September 2011 at 20:18  
Blogger Albert said...


I'm sorry that is your experience of prayer. I can only say (as a convert) that one of the things that is most striking about Catholic congregations is how prayerful they are. The come early to pray - together - for about half an hour and then stay after Mass. Parishes regularly manage 40 hour non-stop prayer vigils. I'm sure there is more that we can do though - St Paul tells us to pray without ceasing!

10 September 2011 at 20:51  
Blogger Oswin said...

DanJo @ 20:12

The last time we spoke of 'prayer' you accused me of 'patronising' you; nevertheless, you have highlighted an area that has always worried me a little : that of 'private' versus (?) 'public' prayer.

''Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them'' etc.

Two, three, or even tens of thousands, mass prayer seems to have an 'edge' over 'private' prayer. Or am I confusing prayer with 'church' here; anyone?

11 September 2011 at 18:49  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...


I think prayer is prayer whether by one person or ten of thousands.

I suggest the "in my name" refers to a public profession of faith in Jesus and his Gospel rather than to the efficacy of prayer. He is amongst them to enlighten, strengthen, comfort, and save them.

11 September 2011 at 20:32  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Inspector General

Yes, I'm out here still to master trying the finer points of HTML!

To somber a day to engage in levity, so I'll end with wishing you well, you contrary old backsliding Papist!

11 September 2011 at 20:37  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

That should of course read:

Yes, I'm out here still trying to master the finer points of HTML!

11 September 2011 at 20:39  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...


We in the Office heard you the first time...

You are doing fine with the text enhancers, just be grateful you weren’t on the receiving end of a modern enlightened education our no-hopes, one size fits all educationalists subject the young of the country to today...

11 September 2011 at 22:17  
Blogger The Way of the Dodo said...

Inspector General


This particular pilgrim received a first class, Christian inspired education. Some might say it was 'one sided' in that it was a Roman Catholic, pre Vatican II, education and well before the secular national curriculum reared its ungodly head.

A particular theme in the school was exploring the relationship between the Reformation, the Enlightenment, Individualism and Utilitarianism. A subject still of some interest to me today.

The school, named in honour of one of my great English heroes, Saint Thomas More, just wouldn't be allowed this religious or academic freedom today.

11 September 2011 at 23:39  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Oswin: "The last time we spoke of 'prayer' you accused me of 'patronising' you; nevertheless, you have highlighted an area that has always worried me a little : that of 'private' versus (?) 'public' prayer."

I think you're hamming it up a bit there. I can't be bothered digging out the exchange but I recall I simply said I was feeling a bit patronised as though I knew nothing of religion. I think when people see 'atheist', they think of someone who has had no Christian upbringing or something. I have favourite hymms (Dear Lord and Father of Mankind), know the Bible quite well, my step-siblings went to a Catholic school, and I attended Sunday School.

But anyway. The prayers said by clergymen in front of a congregation freak me out; or rather, the formulaic droning responses by the congregation do. It screams indoctrination and by-rote religion to me. I don't get that at all.

I don't get the Catholic-style prayers to saints or Christ's biological mother for intercessions either. The idea that a god changes his mind or behaviour according to how many people pray for someone makes me snort.

I can imagine praying on one's own could have a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy function to it which is probably very useful. Assuming a god requires worship from its created beings, it must tick that box too I suppose. Assuming there's some truth to the religion, I suppose praying on one's own might open one's mind to the presence of the 3rd facet of god. It's probably calming too, like the Om mani padme om thing.

Praying in public at church or at an event probably has a similar function, intended or otherwise, to singing together. It's a communally-binding thing. There's something of being part of a focused crowd which is quite invigorating, as any football fan will no doubt attest. It is also a statement, I guess: look, we can muster up a crowd of like-minded people.

That's my take on it anyway.

12 September 2011 at 07:31  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

There's avery good reason for a "god" to have no name ...
It/he/she/they is/arte non-existent

12 September 2011 at 09:01  
Blogger Preacher said...

I can quite understand your take on set prayer. In fact Jesus says "Don't pray with vain repetition like the heathen, who think they will be heard for their many words".
Without doubt, some of the responses of the people in church are genuine & heartfelt, but that can leave another group who are simply following the lead of the minister, although 'religous' this IMO is not true prayer.
When prayer is from the heart & sincere, whether in a group or alone, it is in itself an act of worship & belief, which results in a response from God. Not always the response we want, it's true. But then we don't always get what we want from others who love us do we?.
I hope this sheds some light on, at least my perception of prayer & is helpful.

12 September 2011 at 11:09  
Blogger Oswin said...

DanJo @ 07:31:

'Hamming it up a bit'' - moi??? I think you're confusing me with Dodo :o) Anyhows, I only intended it as a non-patronising intro' to a continued theme; albeit somewhat overly laboured to its own detriment, I admit.

I rather like the Bhudist notion of prayer-flags and prayer-wheels; the sending out of positive, and healing intention, into a pained and difficult world. I see it as a form of 'cosmic broadcasting' that, in comparison, makes my own attempts at prayer, somehow a lesser thing.

I tend to agree with you re' the 'authurised' formulaic litany of exclamation and response, that has largely superceded 'preaching' within the C-of-E. I suspect it's a bit like the 'National Curriculum' in that it no longer trusts the 'individual' to 'do the job' by virtue of talent and conviction.

Further, it presupposes much, too much, of the congegation. Whereas once, those of doubtful faith, or even non-believers, might have gained much from their inclusion.

I rather baulk at the 'nicey-club' neatness of it all. It's all too much of a 'loyalty-card' gathering, for my taste.

One wonders if it irritates God too; I sort of suspect that HE might regret the loss of a certain 'kick-arse' element too.

12 September 2011 at 16:01  
Blogger Oswin said...

'congregation' rather.

12 September 2011 at 16:02  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Testable Proposition:
Prayer has NO effect on third parties.

That is if a "paryer" is directed at a person or object, out of sight and knowledge of the person praying, there will NEVER be any measurable effect.

In other words, prayer is empty vapourings.

15 September 2011 at 10:40  
Blogger Office of Inspector General said...

G Tingey

Do you know the Inspector agrees with you. You can either pray for it, or get off your arse and achieve it yourself...

15 September 2011 at 20:02  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Spoken like a true Engineer!

16 September 2011 at 09:21  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Office of Inspector General said...
"You can either pray for it, or get off your arse and achieve it yourself..."

Though it doesn't need to be an "either/or" choice. Why not do both? In fact one is often a pre-cursor to the other. When we pray for God's intervention in circumstances, the answer often comes back, "OK, I'm sending you"!!

16 September 2011 at 09:35  
Blogger G. Tingey said...

Rebel Saint
You are seriously deluded.
Go and see a doctor RIGHT NOW.
You are making it up inside your excuse for a brain

16 September 2011 at 15:22  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

@G Tinergly

OK, if you say so.

Glad you put me straight otherwise I might have spent the rest of my life living under a delusion.


16 September 2011 at 15:28  

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