From Mr Stephen Beer
Sir, - Professor Bob Holman need not be so worried that the
Christian Socialist Movement is considering changing its name (Comment, 18 January). I
agree with him that labels do matter. That is why we have asked our
members what they think about the name.
As a fellow Christian Socialist, I, too, would not countenance
any departure from our values. Indeed, we are proposing to affirm
our commitment to Christian Socialism more explicitly than
The Christian Socialist Movement (CSM), whatever its members
decide it should be called in future, will always be committed to
equality and egalitarianism. Professor Holman notes that CSM was
co-founded by the Revd Donald Soper in 1960 (though Christian
Socialism dates back to 1848 at least).
The constitution dating from Lord Soper's time did not actually
mention equality, though, of course, it was implicit. It was only
after a review of our statement of values, which I led ten years
ago, that members inserted into our constitution the principle that
each person is of equal worth.
CSM contains many members fired up by an active commitment to
seeing this principle become reality. Like Christian Socialists of
old, some are deliberately living as Christian witnesses in
unfashionable areas. Yet we also know that, when we talk to
like-minded people in churches, we have to spend much time
explaining what the words in our name mean, rather than talking
about what we believe.
Moreover, we find that people who would be natural members -
that is, Christians who agree with our values and who often vote
Labour - are turned away by the name. Most people regard
"socialism" as a term that is outdated and irrelevant: it evokes
the past. Perhaps we should try to change how the term is
I would rather change the name, and focus resources on
campaigning for equality and social justice. For example, CSM has
campaigned in recent years for banking reform and a
relationship-based economy, as outlined on our website (www.thecsm.org.uk).
Our AGM in March will discuss our membership consultation and we
will ballot members on any change. It is highly likely we will
retain the word "Christian" as part of our name, and make an
explicit commitment to Christian Socialism. I am certain that we
will continue to be a vigorous and growing voice in politics,
campaigning for a world that better reflects the values of the
Kingdom of God.
Political Communications Officer
Christian Socialist Movement
PO Box 65108
London SW1P 9PQ