CLAIMS that a US-style
"Religious Right" is influencing public policy in the UK are
"misleading", a report published today by Theos argues.
Is There a "Religious
Right" Emerging in Britain?, by Andy Walton, says that there
is "evidence of greater co-ordination among Christian groups with a
strong socially conservative commitment, in particular relating to
human sexuality, marriage, family life, and religious freedom,
about which they are vocal and often willing to resort to legal
It is, however,
"misleading to describe this phenomenon as a US-style Religious
Right", the report says.
The report defines the
Religious Right in the United States as "a large-scale,
well-organised, well-funded network of groups which has a clear and
limited set of policy aims deemed as 'Christian', which it seeks to
deliver through the vehicle of the Republican Party".
The US Religious Right
campaigns primarily against the liberalisation of abortion laws and
gay-rights legislation. It is also characterised by support for the
state of Israel, opposition to "big government", and opposition to
the teaching of evolution, among other issues.
Is There a "Religious
Right" Emerging in Britain? argues that "British Christians
are not as fixated on a particular set of specific issues as the US
Religious Right. While abortion and gay marriage may not be popular
among Christians here, evolution, Israel and small government are
not major battlegrounds."
The report examines UK
Christian pressure groups, including the Christian Institute,
Christian Concern, the Evangelical Alliance, and the Conservative
"There is no sign of the
kind of tight-knit, symbiotic relationship between a
right-of-centre political party and a unified Christian
constituency emerging in Britain as it did in the last quarter of a
century in the US," the report says.
Groups such as the
Evangelical Alliance, for example, are "not officially or
unofficially affiliated to a party". The groups that most resemble
the US Religious Right "are also further from political power. The
reverse is also true."
The report concludes:
"There are many things to envy about the American Church and
American politics, but the influence of the Religious Right over
the last 40 years is not one them. It has allowed the development
of a narrative that suggests only one party is deserving of a
Christian's support. This has never been the case in Britain and,
in spite of some journalistic suggestions to the contrary, there
are few signs that it is the direction in which we are
The full report can be