So the Government “does” God
With echoes of Alistair Campbell’s famous “New Labour doesn’t do God” quote, ahead of the Pope’s visit Baroness Warsi has announced that the Coalition “does God”. Well nothing wrong with that surely?
A fairly topical subject at the moment given the recent announcement from Stephen Hawking that God doesn’t exist or rather was not the creator of the Universe. However my point today is not to question whether God exists or not, but simply to ask whether He has a place in Government, or rather whether it is right for a British Government to “do” God. Personally I think not.
We live in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society with a multitude of religions and beliefs. We pride ourselves on our tolerance and openness, encouraging people to freely practice their religions as they wish. This tolerance is all encompassing as long as everything remains within the rule of law. Rather than dictate based on religious grounds, we encourage everyone to “do their own thing”, in the hope that we share a set of moral principles which define our country (and many others).
Given the diversity of religions and beliefs in the country it is surely impossible and potentially dangerous for the Government to “do” God. Whose god do they “do” and in what form? If it’s the Church of England then what of Roman Catholicism? Islam? Judaism? Individual members of the government should of course be free to practice whatever religion they see fit, and part of the role of the government should be to understand the needs and requirements of all the main religions practiced in the country, but it is because of this that by definition the government as a whole has a need and a duty to remain if not agnostic, then at least impartial.
It is this moral guidance that the Government has a duty to uphold. We have fought hard over the centuries for democracy, individual freedoms, tolerance, women’s rights and much more. Any religion that restricts or subverts these principles within Britain should be carefully monitored. Again people have freedom to practice religion but within the laws of the land. Move outside these laws and your forfeit the right to exercise that freedom.
Leave God out of it
So please Dave, Nick et al, leave God out of it. Your personal beliefs are exactly that, personal. Your duty as leaders of the Government is to ensure that the freedoms of which we can all be proud are maintained, along with the tolerance for people to practise whatever religion and beliefs they chose, as long as they remain within the rule of law. By all means provide moral guidance to the masses, but there is no need to couch it in religious terms. “Thou shalt not kill” is a fairly obvious statement to most people, regardless whether they belief in the Almighty. History and current conflicts around the world serve to highlight the fact that religion is often used as an excuse by aggressors. “Religious Extremism” in whatever form it takes is “a bad thing” when it threatens the values this country stands for – freedom, tolerance, and democracy.
Just a thought..