Colin Bloom: Christian Conservatives can be proud of this Coalition's record but a lot more still needs to be done
The Prime Minister is getting a shellacking from many Christians this weekend. Yesterday the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey got in early with a few combination shots, and today the Methodists and Baptists decided to mix it up with an ecumenical tag-teaming left foot kicking. Some of the blows were a bit low, but the referees in the broadcast media are seemingly on the side of the Holy minority.
Earlier today I was prompted by a friend to list the Government’s biggest ‘Christian’ achievements. This friend is known to everyone on this site, and he suggested that the increase in faith schools or the .7% of GDP on Overseas Aid as a good start. Pah! There is so much more to list than that.
However, the near universal and visceral rejection of same-sex marriage by the Church has perhaps meant that now anything and everything the Government does, and particularly if it comes from the Prime Minister, is going to be rejected and rubbished without consideration. This would not be fair, and dare I say, it would not be a particularly Christian thing to do either.
The Bible tells us in numerous places to honour and respect and pray for those in Government, for ‘…all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Saviour.’ I would gently remind my Christian brothers and sisters, especially those in the Clergy to spend as much time praying for our politicians (of all parties) and less time attacking them.
- We are unashamed to ‘do God.’ Let’s never forget that the previous administration famously said they ‘didn’t do God’ and this one has said very firmly that they do.
- We are even prepared to go further, and say that we are a ‘Christian Country.’ Whether it was Baroness Warsi when she, as British Muslim, told the former Pope that the United Kingdom was a Christian Country, or whether it is the PM in numerous speeches – unlike the previous Government we are clear. This is a Christian Country.
- Church run social action projects have been given significant funds via groups like the Church Urban Fund or the Cinnamon Network, so that Christian charities like Foodbank, Christians Against Poverty, Street Pastors and others flourish. The Big Society might not be fashionable on the left, but this Government is putting real resources into it.
- Micro Grants from the DCLG to churches to go and ‘Love their Neighbours’ – did this happen before? No.
- Commitment to the Developing World by keeping our promises on Aid and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). Increasing investment to build up both infrastructure and to meet the needs of those in absolute poverty and suffering around the world. Not popular with many, but the right and Christian thing to do.
- Giving powers of competence to Local Authorities so that they can keep on saying prayers before Council Meetings. Thank you Eric Pickles, one in the eye for the aggressive secularists.
- The PM hosting Easter Receptions for Christian Leaders, every year since getting elected in 2010 (not done before).
- The PM giving Easter Messages (eg today) and Christmas Messages that are filled with messages about Jesus (not done before).
- The growth in faith schools, and the freedom for churches to start their own schools if they want.
- Michael Gove giving every secondary school in the country a copy of the King James Bible on the 400th Anniversary of its publication.
- The brilliant work of the Foreign Secretary William Hague and his Ministerial Team including Alastair Burt on fighting against the persecution of Christians around the world.
- The work being done to create a greener United Kingdom, looking after the planet God has given us.
- The significant steps that have been taken to end modern day slavery. Some has been done, but there is a great deal more to do.
- The attempt to set people free from the over-powerful and dead hand of the state. Encouraging people to work (1 Thessalonians 4)!
- Significant work being done in Prisons, where groups like the William Wilberforce Trust (Alpha for Prisons) have been funded to help reduce recidivism and turn prisoners lives around.
- The appointment of a specific Minister for Faiths (Baroness Warsi) – not been done before.
And there is more…
On top of all of the above, the Conservatives are probably the only one of the main political parties that would protect the Established Church – can you see the Lib Dems or Labour doing this?
Everything I have listed above will attract criticism, and I am not pretending that either enough has been done, or that everything that has been done has been done well. I am just trying to bring a bit of balance. Considering the alternatives the record isn’t as bad as most Christian leaders are making out. In summary, a lot of good has been done, there is still a lot more to do.
So before the usual suspects put their left boot in again, perhaps they might want to reflect on how the country was brought to its financial and moral knees, and give a bit more credit to a Government that it trying to get us on our own feet again.