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Christianity and politics: President Bush and Mr Blair

by
02 November 2006

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From the Revd Crispin Pailing
Sir, — In assessing the impact of George W. Bush’s re-election ( Comment, 12 November ), the Revd Joel Edwards writes that "there is broad support among Americans in general on issues that tend to be associated by the media with so-called ‘bigoted’ Evangelicals," and he cites abortion and gay marriage as examples. The implication of this way of thinking is that majority public opinion on a subject somehow validates it and redeems those who hold such opinions on a religious basis.

This is not true. The worldwide debate over initiating conflict in Iraq in 2003 highlighted the divergence between majority public opinion in the United States and the views of many Churches and church leaders both there and in this country. Wherever that matter now stands, the moral debate was not focused in any way by American opinion polls. Similarly, there are issues in this country such as capital punishment where I should be concerned if majority opinion were to be considered a significant factor in a moral debate.

I should agree with Mr Edwards that we do not want a separation between religious values and secular government; but government is for all. When religious values are converted into concrete policies that are exclusive and condemnatory, divisive or even war-mongering, then we have to worry not that Bush presents "God as a Republican mascot", but that he presents the Republicans as God’s legislator.

CRISPIN PAILING
12 Clarence Gardens
Four Oaks
Sutton Coldfield
B74 4AP

From the Revd Jean Mayland
Sir, — In your edition of 12 November, there is praise of the Americans for making religion an election issue, and condemnation of John Kerry because he did not give religion sufficient place.

All I can say is that being anti-abortion, anti-gay and biblically fundamentalist is not the kind of Christianity I embrace. A secular European Parliament that rejects the Italian nominee because of his views of gays and women is nearer to the Christian values that I hold.

I admire Mr Kerry for holding on to his regular attendance at mass while refusing to bow to the Roman Catholic hierarchy and condemn stem-cell research. I also admire him for rejecting Clinton’s call to gain cheap votes by refusing to support gay marriage. Maybe we could offer a man of such integrity a top job in our Parliament.

JEAN M. MAYLAND
Minster Cottage
51 Sands Lane
Barmston
YO25 8PQ

From Mr David Williams

Sir, — I find Simon Parke’s argument circular ( Features, 12 November ). He judges Tony Blair, in my view unfairly, as a man on the run from his past, a compulsive person who can’t see anything through to completion.

Unfortunately, as Mr Parke also claims, "You cannot judge someone and know them — one practice excludes the other."

DAVID WILLIAMS
153 Crompton Way
Bolton,
Lancashire

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