There’s always hope

British Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking on December 16, 2011 at Oxford’s Christ Church celebration of the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible, shook the very foundation of that college city when he said the Bible “was relevant today as at any point in its 400 year history. And none of us should be frightened of recognizing this.”

Pretty good stuff – and there was plenty more.  Cameron went on to say that the King James Bible “bequeathed a body of language” that has influenced every aspect of British culture – literature, music, and art. The Bible has guided Britain’s politics “from human rights and equality to our constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy” and “helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today.”

His most startling comment – which made international headlines – was that thanks to the Bible Great Britain is a Christian nation – “and we should not be afraid to say so.” 

Cameron also said Judeo-Christian beliefs provide the foundation “for the evolution of our freedom and democracy.”  And he added “the knowledge that God created man in his own image was, if you like, a game changer for the cause of human dignity and equality.”

It is apparent that, since he has been responsible for governing, as opposed to just talking on the floor of Parliament, Cameron has learned that ideas and beliefs have real consequences for the everyday plight of Britain’s citizenry. 

No doubt, last summer’s riots in London led by ageing hippies, parlor anarchists, and young narcissists made a lasting impression on the prime minister. He now realizes that mayhem in British society has been due to “an absence of real accountability or moral code.”

“For too long,” Cameron confessed, “we have been unwilling to distinguish right from wrong” and that “moral neutrality or passive tolerance just isn’t going to cut it anymore.”

To fix this mess, he called on his nation’s churches to play a role in promoting the values that “define us as a nation.” (Compare that to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ milquetoast call for Parliament to allow the use of elements of Sharia law in Great Britain.)

    Prime Minister David Cameron

Finally, unlike many politicians who have accepted a mistaken notion that society has to be kept free of religious influences, Cameron said, “I have never really understood the argument some people make about the church not getting involved in politics. To me, Christianity, faith, religion, the Church and the Bible are all inherently involved in politics because so many political questions are moral questions.” (emphasis added)

Refreshing candor, isn’t it?  And by the way, the sky did not fall in Britain following his blunt remarks.

A further bit of good news:  Cameron understands that his nation has moved from a practical “live and let live” attitude to a disastrous abdication of responsibility:  “Do whatever you please.”

Specifically, he observes that “diversity” and multiculturalism policies have failed (a sentiment now shared by the leaders of France and Germany, though America seems not to have noticed yet).

Countless nanny state regulations, enforced by muddled bureaucrats, have created an entitlement society populated by “victims.”  Cameron would doubtless agree with British critic Theodore Dalrymple’s:  “The sturdy independent upright citizen has become a neurotic dependent frightened wreck.”

What the Prime Minister may not realize, however, is his analysis of the current crisis of civilization is strikingly similar to Pope Benedict’s.

Benedict has argued the European cultural crisis is due to the modern perception that the idea of man is nothing more than a cultural construct. Hence, the pope has written, “the splendor of the fact that he is the image of God – the source of his dignity and of his inviolability – no longer shines upon this man; his only splendor is the power of human capabilities.”

The pope has often warned that this view has caused European governments to develop “a culture, that, in a manner hitherto unknown to humanity, excludes God from public awareness.” The drive to marginalize God and his Church was most evident in the politically correct European Constitutional Treaty (rejected by voters in France and the Netherlands), which failed to mention Europe’s Christian roots.

By expelling morality from law, relativism has triumphed in Europe. And this confusing ideology that defines liberty as license and has degraded the responsibility to do what is right into the right to do what is irresponsible, has, in the pope’s judgment, led Europe into an “age of agnosticism of disenchantment, of presumption.”

Whether or not Prime Minister Cameron is serious about restoring Christian values as the foundation of Britain’s political and cultural identity remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the fact he was willing to discuss the matter in the public square, and sees eye to eye with Pope Benedict on the evils of nihilistic secularism suggests there is hope that other elected officials will also see the need to lead their people back to their spiritual roots.

Who knows? It might even catch on here.

George J. Marlin, Chairman of the Board of Aid to the Church in Need USA, is the author of The American Catholic Voter and Sons of St. Patrick, written with Brad Miner. His most recent book is Mario Cuomo: The Myth and the Man.