Thinking Anglicans

The Prime Minister and the King James Bible

Updated Saturday night and Sunday night to add more responses

The Prime Minister gave a speech about the King James Bible in Christ Church Cathedral Oxford yesterday (Friday).

The Oxford diocesan website has this brief report: Prime Minister speaks to Oxford clergy.

Speaking to an audience of largely parish clergy at Christ Church Cathedral, David Cameron spoke strongly in defence of faith and the role of the Church in society.

Mr Cameron said that he was a committed but “vaguely practising” Church of England Christian who was “full of doubts” about big theological issues. But he stressed the importance of the Bible, and in particular the King James Bible, in shaping British culture, values and politics.

“We are a Christian country. And we should not be afraid to say so,” he said.

“Let me be clear: I am not in any way saying that to have another faith – or no faith – is somehow wrong.

“But what I am saying is that the Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today.

“Values and morals we should actively stand up and defend.

“The alternative of moral neutrality should not be an option.

“You can’t fight something with nothing. Because if we don’t stand for something, we can’t stand against anything.”

You can listen to the address in full here or read it here.

Here are some of the many press reports.

Riazat Butt in The Guardian: Cameron calls for return to Christian values as King James Bible turns 400

The Telegraph: David Cameron: the Church must shape our values

BBC: David Cameron says the UK is a Christian country

The Huffington Post: David Cameron Urges Britons To Stand Up And Defend Christian Values

Oliver Wright in The Independent: Cameron shows off his faith with a swipe at Archbishop

Kelvin Holdsworth has written this Response to the Prime Minister.

More responses

Nick Baines Words about Word

Laura Sykes Is David Cameron Representative of Many Members of the Church of England?

Will Cookson David Cameron and The failure of Christian vision

BBC David Cameron on Christianity – views

Melanie McDonagh in The Spectator Cameron’s missing the point: Christian values require Christianity

Jonathan Bartley at Ekklesia David Cameron’s Beatitudes

David Edgar in The Guardian We can’t allow the Bible to be hijacked for narrow and partisan politics

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Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
9 years ago

Rubbish. The Church Times today reports a survey from British Social Attitudes which shows that half the British public regard themselves as having ‘no religion’. He’s not talking about religion anyway, he’s talking about morality and that’s not the same thing at all. Being nice to people isn’t necessarily a ‘Christian’ value.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
9 years ago

” … simply don’t understand that it is easier for people to believe and practise other faiths when Britain has confidence in its Christian identity.” — PM David Cameron As Spock would say, “Fascinating!” Were Roman Catholics free to practice their faith when the KJV was in its prime? Were Quakers, or the Anabaptists, or other non-established/unofficial (I forget the exact terminology of the era) Christians free to believe and practice? What about the Jews? Oliver Cromwell officially allowed them back in England, but it took 200 years before they started being given full and equal rights to participate in… Read more »

Wilf
Wilf
9 years ago

Over on the BBC website on Saturday night there was a page of ‘reactions’ to the speech. This gave prominence to the spokespeople of both the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association, but no reaction from any Christian organisation.

rjb
rjb
9 years ago

Hard to know exactly what the phrase means, “A Christian Country.” Beyond a dog-whistle call to moral conservatives, it seems to have little substantive meaning. Yes, we are historically and “culturally,” and in some ways still institutionally “a Christian country,” but then the same can be said of Spain, or Russia, or Australia, or Haiti. It doesn’t seem to describe or distinguish Britain in any very meaningful way. Being “a Christian country” has never been a guarantee of Christian morals in public or private life. I’m not such an unqualified admirer of secularism as Peter, however. Secularism is not simply… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Pat O'Neill
9 years ago

“…it is easier for people to believe and practise other faiths when Britain has confidence in its Christian identity…”

Doing perhaps a little mind-reading, I think what Cameron is getting at is that, if the majority of Britons are secure in their belief that the UK is a Christian nation, then they are less likely to make a fuss about accommodations made for other faiths.

I suspect he’s wrong (based on what I see going on my side of the pond), but that is probably his point.

Robert ian Williams
Robert ian Williams
9 years ago

If Cameron belives in religion..it is as an instrument of social control. He wants traditional morality and gay marriage! But there again his family owe their position in society because one of his ancestors was a mistress to William the Fourth. There is nothing so two faced as the British Conservative party.

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
9 years ago

Governments usually fall flat on their faces when they start invoking morality or biblical values. Mr Cameron’s own MPs include one who obvioulsy thinks it ok to be in the company of a stag party where guests dress up as storm troopers and drink toasts to Hitler (until he is found out of course). Biblical Values?

Gerry Lynch
9 years ago

How can Dave claim to be a committed member of the Church of England if he’s only vaguely practising? We are a Church because we pray together – or put in a more fancy way, lex credendi, lex orandi. Also, what does he mean by saying the Church should find its voice? He didn’t seem so keen on the Archbishop’s article in the New Statesman – in fact, elements of the Tory backbenches practically issued a fatwah against Lambeth Palace. If he wants the Church to find its voice, he has to accept its going to say some things he… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Laurence Roberts
9 years ago

David Cameron intends that ‘the Church’ should find his voice !

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