Conservative Party and Christianity: Tories and the new evangelical right

Back in February the Financial Times explored the influence Evangelical Christians have in the Tory party. This article charted the last decade’s resurgence of Christian influence within the Tory party, however, this was presented in a rather dark and ominous fashion and was duly picked up on by Cranmer.

Last December the Economist also looked at the influence of religion in politics and drew attention to the ascension of Christianity on Tory thinking. Here’s a snippet:

Iain Duncan Smith, Mr Cameron’s predecessor-but-one and a fervent Catholic, is the party’s main advocate of fighting worklessness and family breakdown through reform of the welfare system. He is likely to feature in a Cameron government. His Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) is now the most influential think-tank on the right. Many of its senior figures are Christians, including its director, Philippa Stroud, a former charity worker and now a Tory parliamentary candidate. On November 26th Mr Cameron spoke at the launch of ResPublica, a think-tank run by Philip Blond, a former theologian whose communitarian conservatism has also grabbed the Tory leader’s attention.

As far back as last October Theos analysed a speech given by David Cameron at the Conservative party conference and noted that he drew on biblical allusions in order to communicate his message:

Commenting on the speech, Paul Woolley, Director of Theos said: “The parallels between the Beatitudes and the poetry of David Cameron’s speech were remarkable.

“Sections of the speech clearly reflected the structure of a number of biblical passages.

“The use of religious allusions might reflect Mr Cameron’s interest in religious groups in our society, but it’s also an effective way of communicating to people at a deeper level. Tony Blair understood that well.

“The levels of biblical literacy in our society are low, but there is still a strong biblical subconscious in people that political leaders like David Cameron can appeal to.”

In April Ekklesia countered these assertions upon the publication of the Tory Manifesto, noting their “God shaped hole”:

David Cameron has been left facing an embarrassing situation today following the launch of the Conservative manifesto, which makes no reference to religion, faith, faith schools or the contribution of church or other religious groups to society.

And today we have Andrew Brown of the Guardian alerting us to the dangers of the rise of an American-style evangelical party emerging within the Conservative party, as a result of David Cameron’s failure to win the election outright.

So the questions that are raised in my mind are:

Is there a rise (or potential rise) of Christian influence within the Conservative party?

If so, is this dangerous or undesirable?

UPDATE: George Pitcher over at the Telegraph has put together a short piece juxtaposing Cameron’s Christianity with Clegg’s atheism:

George Pitcher Telegraph: The Con-Dem coalition: An intriguing union of Dave’s Christianity and Nicky’s atheism

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