Belfast Telegraph

Christian values could help PM through difficult times

By Alf McCreary

Will Theresa May be a better Prime Minister because she is a practising Christian or not? The answer might be "one hopes so" because Mrs May would be expected to show the qualities of integrity, social conscience and a greater regard for other human beings which are some of the hallmarks of Christianity.

So far she has shown several attractive qualities. As the daughter of a vicar she does not wear her Christian heart on her sleeve, but she attends church regularly and last Sunday she was pictured coming out of worship with her husband of 36 years.

Mrs Andrea Leadsom, who withdrew her candidacy for the leadership, is also said to be a committed Christian and a member of the House of Commons Bible Study group.

Yet last weekend she made some very hurtful remarks, whether intentional or not, when she suggested that as a mother she might have a greater stake in the future of the country rather than the childless Mrs May.

Some people believe that she was very naive in making such remarks in this day and age, but the trouble was that she had the thoughts in her head in the first place.

She had no way to move further upwards, in the leadership contest because her campaign was immediately holed beneath the water-line.

However her choice of words is a warning to Christians, and non-Christians, of the importance of keeping our secret thoughts, right or wrong, to ourselves.

Christianity has not had a great prominence in the high politics of the UK in recent times.

Leading figures may have been practising Christians, or not, but they have not made their religious beliefs a matter of public witness.

Tony Blair's communications chief Alastair Campbell once said bluntly, and arrogantly, "We don't do God", and his boss kept his Christianity well under wraps until after he left office.

The claim was made at the time that any prime minister who made a fuss about his Christianity might be misunderstood by his colleagues.

This was part of Blair's technique of having it all ways, until the dangerous folly of his Iraq campaign caught up with him last week with the publication of the Chilcot report.

In the meantime, many British service men and woman, and scores of thousands of Iraqis died. One wonders how Blair would square that with his Christian conscience, but like Jeremy Corbyn he lives in a bubble of self-justification which no reality can prick.

Across the Atlantic, the role of Christianity in high politics is also uncertain.

Various presidents kept their religious views to themselves, and the only high-profile Christian in recent years was Jimmy Carter.

He was not regarded as a great president, but in his retirement his Christian values have been greatly evident and Jimmy Carter is now respected highly as an international statesman.

On this side of the Irish Sea there are all shades of religious belief and practice which complicate our politics.

No doubt some of our politicians may be trying to practise their Christianity, in their very different ways, but you would hardly recognise it.

The late Ian Paisley made much progress through his strident Christianity, but he said and did things which most people would not claim to have anything to do with the example of Jesus Christ.

Thus Mrs May has very few recent role models of Christian witness in high places, apart from the Queen, but she is very much her own woman, and she needs all the support she can get.

No UK prime minister since the Second World War has had such a serious of major challenges to face, but Mrs May has started well with a dignified speech about the true unity of the United Kingdom, and a pledge to help those who are worse off.

There is a long journey ahead, and she will need a lot of help, and prayers along the way. She will not be alone.

Belfast Telegraph


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