A few days ago, David Cameron gave a speech at the 400 year anniversary celebration of the King James Version of the Bible which was mostly a fitting tribute to one of the greatest books in the English language.
It gave a warm reminder of how this translation infused so many masterpieces from the works of Shakespeare and Tennyson to the words of Martin Luther King. What he said was also a timely focus on its value, along with an appreciation of the long list of idioms and phrases composed within it that are still in use today.
His speech was also a strong reminder of Christian values that have shaped Britain and made it one of the safer places in Europe for people of other religions. He proudly declared Britain a ‘Christian nation’ and rightly so, a point difficult to argue, when the 2001 census found that 70% of Brits would consider themselves Christian. After all, the talk of falling attendance to regular church services are no reflection of a person’s religiosity, which can only be self-defined and a matter between themselves and their deity.
Surprisingly though, when Cameron began to talk about the Christian values of Christian Britain he opened by quoting Margaret Thatcher and then listed a rather vague, all encompassing, list of words starting with ‘Responsibility’.
Odd, considering he had spent the earlier part of his speech extolling the wisdoms to be found in the lines of the Bible. Anyone listening would have been expecting a few quotes from the great book, giving a strong indictment of some of society’s deep, underlying problems, but the quotes were not forthcoming and the examples he used were randomly chosen and lacked depth.
One wonders why he chose to focus on the ‘on-going terrorist threat from Islamist extremists’, when the number of those recorded attacks in Europe have dwindled to just one in the last year, and yet he chose not to mention that far-right and separatist groups accounted for nearly 200 attacks over the same period.
This was all the more strange when you consider ‘terrorist’ activities are far less of a danger to the lives of Brits than the liquid terror available on so many shop shelves. Perhaps Cameron could have mentioned that if all terrorist attacks, from all spectrums, are accounted for over the last 15 years, it equates to some 10,000 lost lives, which is less than the amount of people killed in that time on Britain’s roads through drink driving alone, let alone the hundreds of thousands who perish from alcohol-related illnesses. The speech could have been a platform to challenge this and remind Christian Britain of one of The Bible’s lesser known quotes: ‘Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise’ (Proverbs 20:1) or a dozen other references on the same issue. Alcohol abuse is a bigger terror to British society than international terrorism could ever be.
Cameron then found a whip to crack against another unpopular group: The Bankers. He mentioned a lack of ‘responsibility’ leading to a flawed ‘moral code’ which ultimately ‘allowed some bankers… to behave with scant regard for the rest of society.’ Could he not have been more forthcoming and mention the long held Christian position of usury and interest being inherently anti-Christian: “If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be like a moneylender to him, and you shall not exact interest from him” (Exodus 22:25). A few rogue bankers may have blindly toppled the tower, but it was built on nothing but anti-Christian interest in the first place.
The points he mentioned are an attempted distraction or denial of deeper issues and he needlessly brought the idea of ‘Islamic’ ‘terrorism’ back on to the agenda a year after communities, police and other agencies have managed to bring ‘Islamic terrorist’ attacks down to one and death count down to zero. Why would he pour such cold scornful water on all their hard work and show the ‘passive tolerance’ towards the underlying issues that plague society, like excessive alcohol consumption and the entirely flawed banking system, to name but two? This is akin to complaining of a drafty window when your roof is shattered.
If Cameron really wanted the ‘moral code’ of society to change with or without faith as a ‘push in the right direction’ perhaps he should take ‘responsibility’ as Prime Minister and clearly prioritise what the Kingdom’s problems are and then tell that to the British public who are deserving of the truth. It is not the big bad banker, or the ghost of Bin Laden under the bed, but the needed overhaul of a system that’s surely losing its post-war socialist heartbeat to a capitalist pacemaker that can flat line at will.
In essence Cameron should see to the real needs of the people first, then tuck them in and tell them some of those exaggerated ghost stories he seems to be so fond of and know so well.
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