Tag Archives: faith

Championing Freedom of Belief

Jeremy Hunt has ordered a review into the persecution of Christians worldwide. We are fortunate in this country to be able to practice our faiths, or have no faith, whichever the case might be. But in many countries of the world this is not the case. 

Our 2017 General Election manifesto called for the UK to lead on establishing the right to religious freedom around the world:

Appoint an ambassador-level champion for freedom of belief to drive British diplomatic efforts in this field, and campaign for the abolition of

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Embracing Diversity

In September 2017 I wrote an article for Libdemvoice called Time to Stand and Stare. The basic message of my piece was that it is important to take time for quiet contemplation to ensure the action we do then take is well considered and hopefully therefore more effective.

This approach is well summed up by this quote from the Quaker John Wilhelm Rowntree (1868 – 1905);

In the noisy rush of modern life we need periods of quiet when the soul may feed in peace on that which shall nourish it for action

It was Wilhelm’s inspiration that was behind the founding …

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Faith values in politics can be a force for good?

You don’t need to be a church going person to learn and practice positive faith values in the society. The separation of church and state is a phrase that’s often used in reference to politics in the context of religious faith. In the US, the distinction between religion and politics is often blurred – you only have to listen to Donald Trump, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio addressing party loyalists to see just how intertwined the two are. But here in the UK there’s something of a taboo about conflating the two. In fact faith values in politics can be an immense force for good, just as they can outside politics.

Here in the UK, unlike our cousins across the Atlantic, we have an established church and our head of state is also the head of this church. This dual rule has been much reduced since the days of Henry VIII. There was once a time when the UK politics was presided over by a monarch who was both president and pope. Gradually their role faded, and religion was replaced by political philosophy as the driving force behind British political ideology. It has led to something of an institutional silence by our political leaders to use the language of faith in political discourse. Think of the reaction that Prime Minister David Cameron received when he stated that he was prepared to ‘do God’ and take his faith into account when carrying out his duties. He was lauded and criticised in almost equal measure. But ‘doing God’ – or allowing your religious beliefs to impact upon your political outlook – does not need to be a negative thing. In fact, faith can be an immensely positive in politics and the society as long you interpret it correctly and of course you don’t try to force it on others. 

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Opinion: Is faith a problem?

One of the themes which has recurred in the leadership election debates is the question of faith, which I have been hearing in terms of comments on Tim Farron’s Christianity, whether this is a good or a bad thing, how Liberal it is to make an issue over that, and how that places him in relation to Norman Lamb describing himself as agnostic.

This territory is very familiar. For some years I was Secretary of the East of England Faiths Council and very much involved in the engagement of faith and governance. But I have also spent some years doing one-to-one spirituality work, which leaves me very conscious of how much more complex these things are in the realities of an individual.

Religions in general, and Christianity in particular, cover a wide range, from those for whom “believing” something makes it a “true” to those for whom faith is about a deep rootedness which lets them be both resilient and flexible. Desmond Tutu, Mahatma Gandhi and the Dalai Lama are shining examples of the latter — Nelson Mandela might be an even more striking example of someone whose Christian faith enabled him to step well beyond that label.

I’ll pick up two contrasts:

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Recent Comments

  • James Fowler
    Good summary from William Francis. Have you read Keith Middlemass's series? They're a bit dated, but very interesting....
  • John Grout
    We should not be surprised that people who are the subjects of a debate want to be part of it - it’s also not unsurprising that they won’t want to debate, p...
  • Andrew Melmoth
    @Simon McGrath But that's not the whole story. The government can set the redistribution rules in an effort to tilt the system in their favour. For instance ...
  • Matt McLaren
    Thanks for your thoughts Richard. As you say, others will make their own judgements about what is said above. I'm very keen to work with others to improve th...
  • Simon McGrath
    Some interesting points here but redrawing constituency boundary are done by an independent body - nothing to do with the Govt...