Westminster Faith Debate - religion in public life
There was a debate yesterday in London about the role of religion in public life, featuring Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, Tony Blair and Charles Moore. You can read a few reviews HERE and HERE. The content will not be regurgitated upon this blog, for it was trite, patronising trash: platitudes, evasions, clichés, and a systematic avoidance of the principal contentious issues.
But what do you expect from a liberal Anglican and two converts to Roman Catholicism?
At one point, Charles Moore cracked a joke that New Labour behaved as though nothing had existed prior to 1997. Which is a bit rich, since he spoke as though nothing preceded the Four Gospels. What sort of conference on the role of religion in public life restricts the Christian input to liberal Anglicanism and Tablet-reading convert-Catholicism? Where was the voice of the Free Church dissenters?
Moreover, where were the voices of Judaism?
Not to mention Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism.
There is something unacceptably patronisingly colonial about three white Christian men talking about Indus/(Mid-)Easterm religion and the role it might play in society. And there is something unacceptably offensive about the lack of any female perspective.
It was a congenial chat by men who didn't wish to offend: it was (another) promotional vehicle for Tony Blair, who is slowly but surely being elevated to the status of spiritual counsellor and global guru.
The man is a hypocrite and a charlatan. Shame on Charles More, Rowan Williams and Religion & Society for contributing to the rehabilitation of the man who did more to diminish our religious liberties than any monarch or prime minister in three centuries. His politics is predicated on authoritarian notions of equality: his instincts are wholly repressive.
The Labour Party under Tony Blair's leadership de-legitimised morality and replaced it with abstract moralising, as though the vagaries of human sense were a substitute for millennia of accumulated wisdom. The nation’s Protestant Christian Settlement, which bequeathed to us a tradition of benign social authority, has been subsumed to a malign socialist ultra-liberalism which is inexorably changing our culture beyond recognition and foisting upon everyone a value-free vernacular. Truth is relativised; all belief is valid as long as it coheres with state orthodoxy.
So, please, if you want to debate the role of religion in society, for God's sake invite someone who is prepared to challenge the increasingly prevalent view that we must dispense with the 'forces of conservatism' in the name of progressive enlightenment.