Is there a “Christianization” of British politics taking place?
Commentators have cited new Prime Minister’s Tony Blair’s speeches, which draw on Christian terminology, and the success of a large number of strongly Christian candidates of all parties, including the victorious Labour Party in recent elections, including the victorious Labour Party, as evidence of such a trend.
The British Catholic magazine The Tablet (May 17) reports that there are conflicting signs about the new Christian presence in British politics. Members of the Christian Socialist Movement were said to have gained influential cabinet positions because of their membership in the group.
Yet Stephen Timms, a Labour leader, writes that five members of the new cabinet do belong to the Christian Socialists, but “none of them owes their place to their CSM membership.” Timms does note that “Christians in all parties have been quietly encouraging and supporting one another for many years and this will continue.” He adds, however, that it is difficult to detect much of an effect that single issue pressure groups, such as on pornography or abortion, had on the election outcome. An examination of the lists of the defeated politicians, shows that “many members of the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship are among them.”
But where Timms does see signs of new religious political influence is in the way in which “Christian ideas, concepts and language are informing the new thinking.” By Blair setting forth rhetoric emphasizing the role of servanthood in politics, and by Labour consulting church and voluntary sector representatives in its campaign, Christians have been permitted to participate politically “with much less difficulty than was the case in the past.”
(The Tablet, 1 King St., Cloisters, Clifton Walk, London, W6 0Q2 England)