Cameron is losing the Christian vote to Ukip
Unlike, say, in the United States of America, where the 'culture wars' over issues like school prayer, stem cell research, homosexuality, contraception, abortion and pornography have given rise to the 'Religious Right', there is not and has never been an identifiable 'Christian vote' in the UK. There isn't even an equivalent of the Christian Coalition of America to issue 'voter guides', engage with moral concerns or contend for religious liberty. Despite decades of left-liberal leadership, by and large those who worship in the Church of England still veer toward the Conservative Party, and those who worship in the Roman Catholic Church still tend toward Labour. At least that's what all the surveys tell us: no doubt voting intention is rather more fluid in this age of political fragmentation and religious non-affiliation.
The Christian Socialist Movement recently morphed into Christians on the Left. By dropping the historic ideological 'Socialist' tag, the movement has begun to attract Christian Liberal Democrats. Indeed, it is now so broad in its religio-sociological appeal that it could easily embrace those on the left of the Conservative Party (they said His Grace would be welcome to join). Their aim is to give left-leaning Christians a united voice to “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves”, and who can argue with that? The group has 1,519 Facebook 'likes' and 2.520 Twitter followers.
The Conservative Christian Fellowship maintains a resolute Conservative identity: there are no plans to segue into 'Christians on the Right', not least because, thanks to decades of soft-left media inculcation and political disinformation, 'the Right' has acquired a certain political toxicity. The CCF "seeks to build a strong, relational bridge between the (Conservative) party and the Christian community". The group has 720 Facebook 'likes' and 1,005 Twitter followers.
In social media terms, the Conservatives are doing less than half as well as the Left. In terms of national religio-political engagement, the picture is less clear, not least because no research has ever been carried out into the efficacy of their theological missions of the effectiveness of their political advocacy. Both groups periodically deliver their PowerPoint presentations to interested parties; hold their church 'question times'; engage in social action projects and host dinners or drinks receptions with Christian MPs and peers. Like party-political functions, these activities seem to keep their members happy. But neither group approaches anything like the political power of Stephen Fry (142,000 Facebook 'likes' and 6,706,345 Twitter followers).
Christians on the Left is politically latitudinal, embracing broad left ideologies; the Conservative Christian Fellowship is politically narrow, focusing solely on engagement with one party. In an emerging four-party context, it remains to be seen how long this can be sustained. Quite how many right-leaning formerly-Conservative Christians have veered off toward Ukip is unknown. But when they do defect, they are lost to the CCF.
Christians on the Right in the UK have historically never had any political home but the Conservative Party. Nigel Farage has changed that. Indeed, his simple message and authentic appeal have changed it to such an extent that Conservative Central HQ really ought to deeply concerned about their election prospects. But they aren't at all.
David Cameron is losing the Christian vote because he has ceased to understand Christian sensitivities. That is certainly the view of prominent Christians within his own party, most notably Anglican Sir Gerald Howarth and Roman Catholic Edward Leigh. There are many on the right who are worried about the plight of the poor and homeless and the rise of food-banks, but few believe that a party led by public-school-educated multi-millionaires actually understands or empathises to any degree at all. Of course they can and might, but we are dealing here with perceptions, and politics is about perceptions.
But it is also about moral purpose. And Cameron's distinctly un-conservative social revolution with the introduction of same-sex marriage has offended not only traditional Conservatives and conservative Christians, but people across all faith groups. He is seemingly indifferent to the constitutional tensions and the implications for religious liberty. Add to this his sinister liberalisation of abortion law and the introduction of three-parent babies, you move toward the point where many Christians feel they cannot in conscience vote for a party which rides roughshod over their moral concerns or labels them intolerant bigots merely for expressing their historical morally-orthodoxy belief.
By surrounding himself with secularists and advancing as infallible orthodoxy a wishy-washy liberal form of Anglicanism which, he says, "fades in and out like Magic FM in the Chilterns", David Cameron has alienated many conservative Christians whose faith means more to them than their traditional political allegiance. The Conservative Party used to be a broad church, but thousands are now flocking to the Ukip Chapel where there's a revival. CCHQ is content to excommunicate these heretics, undoubtedly holding the indifferent good-riddance view that they are misguided, swivel-eyed loons, closet racists, fruitcakes and right-wing bigots.
You may very well think that, too. But His Grace couldn't possibly comment.