One of the more interesting stories out of Britain is what the Mirror calls “a fierce attack on the Archbishop of Canterbury” by Prime Minister David Cameron. The Daily Mail summarized the Prime Minister’s speech as an exhortation to Canterbury to ‘speak up for Christianity’ instead of criticizing the country for not doing more to understand the rioters who recently ran rampage through Britain. But the speech itself was far more wide-ranging.
Cameron argued that religion, far from being a spent force, was actually a rising force in the world. More was the pity then that Christianity, which had done the most to lay the foundations for freedom and prosperity, not simply in religious but historical terms, had seen fit to cover its light under a bushel-basket.
The time had come, Cameron argued, to remember that Britain was “a Christian nation” and that there was pride, not shame in that. Here is an extract from his speech.
The Economist may have published the obituary of God in their Millennium issue.
But in the past century, the proportion of people in the world who adhere to the four biggest religions has actually increased from around two-thirds to nearly three quarters…
…and is forecast to continue rising.
For example, it is now thought there are at least 65 million protestants in China and 12 million Catholics – more Christians than there are members of the communist party.
Official numbers indicate China has about 20 million Muslims – almost as many as in Saudi Arabia – and nearly twice as many as in the whole of the EU.
And by 2050, some people think China could well be both the world’s biggest Christian nation and its biggest Muslim one too….
The Bible has helped to shape the values which define our country. … the King James Bible has bequeathed a body of language that permeates every aspect of our culture and heritage… The Bible also runs through our art …
The Bible runs through our political history in a way that is often not properly recognised. The history and existence of a constitutional monarchy owes much to a Bible in which Kings were anointed and sanctified with the authority of God… we are a Christian country. And we should not be afraid to say so. …
We need to stand up for these values.
To have the confidence to say to people – this is what defines us as a society…
…and that to belong here is to believe in these things.
Cameron’s speech will doubtless be interpreted as more politics than religion. Certainly Cameron himself admitted he was a rather inconstant member of the Church of England and no expert on matters of faith. But its overtly political character makes the speech all the more significant. If this is not the utterance of a man who has experienced a Pauline conversion on the road to Damascus, it is certainly the statement of a politician who has detected advantage in the way the wind blows.
He made the speech in the belief that it would catch the current winds. And what are those?
Cameron has probably noticed a slow but steady loss of pressure in the secular stuffing shoved into British society as a replacement for its former beliefs. The airy substance of multi-culti, moral relativism, non-judgmentalism, Green paganism and self-hatred has been on display in the public square for some decades now, growing steadily since the sixties. Its liturgy is on display in talk shows, television programming and what passes for educational broadcasting.
For years it grew, apparently unstoppable, until it assumed the character of inevitability. There were words people could not say, sexual practices one could not impugn, alien cultures one could not question; there were consensus gods one had to worship or be ‘criminals’. But now it is deflating, leaking air like a worn-out tire. The cause of its fall was obvious. The recent collapse of its flagship institutions, as embodied in the Green movement, welfare state, the media and transnational organizations was bound to result in the discredit of its ideology.
People who realize that the State can’t save them must necessarily go back to wondering what will. And the answer for most is individual effort, as guided by the eternal verities variously described by the great world religions. To some it will be found in a more general adherence to the ways of their fathers, in the values that once sustained Britain and may again. Cameron did not need to believe in the Bible to make that speech, though perhaps he did. All he needed to do was watch the opinion polls and the bond market to realize that the day of Rowan William’s multi-culti theology was done.
The worst thing that can happen to a god that failed is to have all of its miracles debunked before the eyes of its adherents. And this has now happened in the most spectacular manner. The failure of the welfare state, the visible strings above the global warming puppet show, and the fading attractions of the media/entertainment complex were certain to undermine their authority. Being a network anchor, or a Nobel Prize economist, or an expert from an elite educational institution — indeed being the chairman of giant bank — ain’t what it used to be. Once such figures would have been unimpeachable. Today the louder they talk of their expertise the faster we recheck our bank balances.
Clearly the recent setbacks of the old order in the area of demographics, politics and economics were inevitably going to extend into the culture wars. The Cameron speech was bound to happen, from opportunism if not from faith. The wonder was that it took as long as it did.