Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a practicing Muslim, begins an essay by decrying the disingenuous use of religion by political power structures as a means to achieve their secular ends. She has extremely harsh words for the theocracy of Iran, and the ruling family of Saudi Arabia. And then she turns to Britain and sees the same behavior by the Prime Minister Dave Cameron:
“Recently, David Cameron did just [the same sort of thing as the Muslim theocracies have done]. The state should be secular, religiously neutral. Yet our PM, once a spin doctor, appropriated divinity efficiently and timed his message precisely. He chose this season of peace and goodwill to rouse muscular, Anglican jingoism, partly to pick a fight again with “multiculturalism” but mostly, I think, to cleanse the many sins of his government. This is a Christian country, with Christian values, he decreed, and “we should not be afraid to say so”. Only it isn’t. When you consider our domestic and foreign policy or how people behave, Britain cannot be called Christian. And I wish it was. Truly I do, even though I am a Muslim. For at its best, Christianity is one of the world’s most humane and tender of religions and deserves a better class of worshipper than many of those who lay claim to it.
There are, of course, Britons who do follow the example of their Lord. I know good believers who shelter asylum-seekers, feed the hungry in soup kitchens, try hard to speak and do no evil, forgive those who hurt them and are not tempted by excessive materialism. They are, though, now diminishing. A major survey in 2010 found a long-term, steady decline in the number of practising Christians in Britain. Fifty per cent said they followed no organised religion. In 1983, that figure was 19 per cent. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, the numbers of disbelievers today is 64 per cent.[…]If Britain were a more Christian country its people would not tolerate the rich, ruling elite punishing the most disadvantaged with harsh laws and unfair rhetoric. They would revolt against the state-created poverty upon us. They would preserve the welfare state – born at a time when the country was more Christian and understood mutuality and societal obligations. That generosity is gone. […]One feels for the truly faithful, such as Archbishops John Sentamu and Rowan Williams and, most of all, the Reverend Giles Fraser, who left St Paul’s when his church threatened to remove forcibly the peaceful people camped outside to protest against the capitalism that devastates economies, lives and the environment. These churchmen try to remind their people of Christ who came to save them, a child born to asylum-seekers. Their words are unheeded. Too many are like Cameron, part-time Christians of convenience, living for mammon, who use their religion as a weapon against those they despise, the poor, helpless and “alien”: all those embraced by Jesus Christ in his time.”
You can (and should) read the whole essay here.
Hat tip to Thinking Anglicans