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Labour and religion: MRA all over again?

13 October 2010


From the Revd Sid Mourant

Sir, — My reaction to David Lammy’s article “Labour must realign with religion” (Comment, 8 October) was that Moral Re-Armament (MRA) seemed to have been resurrected. Unfortunately, the pitfalls of MRA remain.

What we have is an argument to realign with religion, and to take from it those morals and ethical systems and values that are in agreement with a particular philosophy or moral outlook.

In order to achieve this aim, a certain political class will seek to work favourably with religion. It will, of course, not only ignore those areas where there is profound disagreement, e.g., the right of the individual conscience that has been nurtured by a religious faith and tradition; it will also pour its scorn and unleash whatever it takes to denigrate such values in the hope of seeing them vanish from the frame.

But right at the heart of all of this is the complete ignoring of the foundation of religious values. These are not just rational or logical. Rather, they provide the basis on which the core values of religion are built. These religious core values arise from an understanding of that which goes beyond reason, which, for the Church, is God’s revelation in creation and redemption, which when taken seriously leads to a religious and ethical care for the environment and for people, who are made in God’s image and redeemed in God’s love.

To ignore this and just pick up a few bits and pieces of what one likes or which are agreeable to one’s political group is in fact like trying to take away parts of a building and ignoring and leaving the foundations. It does not take long before it all collapses, as was the case with MRA in the 1930s; and it isn’t long before the alliance with religion is jettisoned, the strength of the scorn against it is increased, and we are left again with Pope Benedict’s recent warning.

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