Conservative Diary

« David Cameron reminds Scotland that the general election offers a straight choice between five more years of Brown or a new Conservative Government | Main | Can Cameron score a winning hat-trick? »

Christians in the Conservative Party

IMG_0889 The cover feature in today's FT magazine, in which I feature, concerns the influence of Christians in the Conservative Party.

Read Chris Cook's piece for yourself but a few observations from me:

  • Many Christians in the Conservative Party belong to the Conservative Christian Fellowship but there is no uniformity of outlook among churchgoing Tories. Many Christian Conservatives I know are quite libertarian in opposing the use of law and regulation to promote moral beliefs that they hold personally. Some are more paternalistic, believing that the tax system, for example, should encourage marriage and charitable giving.
  • In contrast to America's 'Christian Right', Christians in the Conservative Party are largely focused on poverty - both at home and abroad. In this video interview for the FT I argue that that is biblical.
  • I hope that Christians have played an important role in the broadening of Conservatism in recent years - Iain Duncan Smith and Philippa Stroud of the Centre for Social Justice, for example, are both churchgoers but it's also true that people of more secular outlook have played decisive roles. Oliver Letwin, for example, describes himself as an atheist but his speeches in 2002 on crime and society were pathfinding speeches for Cameronism. David Willetts is, I think, agnostic, and it was him in (again in 2002/03) who devised the 'One Nation Hearings' that did most to begin to convince the media that the then 'help the vulnerable' campaign was serious.
  • In terms of other key beliefs, Christians in the party generally want more support for marriage and fewer abortions. Christian Tories will also fight very hard for religious liberty as they did recently on the Equality Bill.
  • The Conservative Party's agenda should excite most churchgoers... for reasons I've already blogged.

Tim Montgomerie

2.15pm: Fraser Nelson's verdict: "The CSJ is about concern for the poor, about the basic duty to look at politics in terms of what it can do for the least advantaged. Such values may be the bedrock of Christianity but are hardly exclusive to it. As Chris Cook says: Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, helped Tim line up funding. Anyone concerned about how UK welfare policies were incubating, rather than eradicating, poverty joined in too. The Tory Social Justice movement may have had its genesis in Christianity, but the CSJ is devoted to far wider cause of understanding and fighting poverty. Other aspects which worry the critics of Christianity – concern about homosexuality, women’s rights, abortion etc – cannot be found anywhere in the CSJ (as Tim says in the wee video interview he recorded for the FT piece). It’s about poverty, not Christianity, and is Christian only insofar as it’s about the key message of the Bible: duty to the disadvantaged."


You must be logged in using Intense Debate, Wordpress, Twitter or Facebook to comment.