Cameron has caused controversy by stating that Britain should be “more confident about our status as a Christian country”. Much of the press now puzzle over the electoral impacts of this statement. However, let us take a step back from the ramblings of the Westminster Village and actually look at what Cameron has said.
Cameron stated that Christianity can “make a difference to people’s lives”. He is right. Many people rely on the Christian organisations to live with many food-banks set up by Churches. Despite some minor controversies, it is not the Labour Party but the Church of England who leads the way in fighting legal loan sharks and supporting the Living Wage campaign. And while the Labour Party remains too nervous to truly denounce the benefit changes, the Church has certainly been greatly vocal.
This does not merely present the Church as charitable, but a bit left-wing. Chávez’s statement that Christ was “the greatest socialist in history” may be somewhat of a simplification, but he was certainly on the right lines. When referring to the rich failing to care for the poor he was no soft touch. ‘“Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Then they will go away to eternal punishment.’ Suddenly a 50p top rate of income tax seems rather mild. The destitute Rabbi seems more like a working class hero than a Tory activist. The Right claiming Christ for their own is one of the strangest occurrences in contemporary politics.
The great problem with Cameron’s comments is not that they are incorrect, the Christian values of love, forgiveness and helping the poor and the needy are undoubtedly positive and are in dire need in contemporary Britain, but that he does not live up to the principles he espouses. Cameron’s policies have hurt the weakest in society, whether it be the bedroom tax or the VAT increase.
It is the churches who have had to pick up the pieces. Cameron’s office even called the police when the Bishop of Oxford attempted to hand over a petition against the government’s inaction on hunger in Britain. The government’s role in society of looking out for the poor and the needy is now being left to the churches. Cameron was right when he said that Britain could do with being more Christian. However, his Britain is many things; harsh, brutal and uncaring, but certainly not Christian.