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Britain must return to biblical values, says Prime Minister David Cameron

IN a speech to mark the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, PM David Cameron said that a return to Christian values could counter the country’s “moral collapse” – and he blamed a “passive tolerance” of immoral behaviour for this summer’s riots, Islamic extremism, City excess and Westminster scandals.

David Cameron goes a bundle on biblical ‘morality’

“The committed but vaguely practising Church of England Christian” told C of E clergy who gathered in Oxford for the birthday bash that there were three reasons why the King James Bible was as relevant today as any point in its history:

First, the King James Bible has bequeathed a body of language that permeates every aspect of our culture and heritage.

Second, just as our language and culture is steeped in the Bible, so too is our politics.

Ah, so that would explain the overwheening “morality” of our coalition Government!

Third, we are a Christian country. And we should not be afraid to say so. Let me be clear: I am not in any way saying that to have another faith – or no faith – is somehow wrong.

I know and fully respect that many people in this country do not have a religion. And I am also incredibly proud that Britain is home to many different faith communities, who do so much to make our country stronger. But what I am saying is that the Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today.

Cameron added that while faith was neither a “necessary nor sufficient condition for morality” it could be:

A helpful prod in the right direction. Whether you look at the riots last summer, the financial crash and the expenses scandal, or the ongoing terrorist threat from Islamist extremists around the world, one thing is clear: moral neutrality or passive tolerance just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Last month the government announced it was sending a copy of the King James Bible, complete with a foreword from education minister Michael Gove, to every school in the country.

I know things are tough folks, but surely we could help fund a campaign to send a copy of God is Not Great: how Religion Poisons Everything to schools in memory of Christopher Hitchens.

Hat tip: Pete H

41 Responses to “Britain must return to biblical values, says Prime Minister David Cameron”

  1. Daz says:

    Yep, okay. Biblical values, righty-ho.

    Which bloody joker ordered the ‘three hundred concubines to go’? I’m on a schedule, ya know. Can’t ‘ang around ‘ere all day waitin’ for some bugger to sign for ‘em.

  2. Angela_K says:

    Here we go again the old “you can’t be moral without god” bollocks; you’d expect a reasonably intelligent person like Cameron to have worked this one out. Of course no mention of the babble’s nasty bits to upset the Mail and Telegraph readers. So does Cameron agree with stoning for adulterers? – I think we should be told.

  3. barriejohn says:

    This is actually front page news in today’s Mail:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2075205/Speak-Christianity-Cameron-tells-Archbishop-PM-calls-Church-defend-values-moral-code-Bible.html

    Once again, the comments on the website are priceless!

  4. Daz says:

    I think Cameron would agree with anything if he thought it would get him votes.

  5. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    Biblical values and morals eh? Okay, who’s got the slaves? All those for genocide, please form an orderly queue. I wonder if anyone’s told his missus that she’s got to accept second class status.

    What an absolute dick! That’s one vote he’s lost.

  6. barriejohn says:

    Graham: I have asked on the Mail site whether SamCam goes along with all this tosh. I now expect to see her wearing her hair long (and covered): staying at home to look after the family; and keeping her opinions (if any) to herself and obeying her husband at all times. “Christian values” FTW!

  7. Philgardiner says:

    Dave thinks the expression live & let live comes from the bible. I didn’t think so and just checked it, it’s an old Dutch proverb :)

  8. barriejohn says:

    This, by Richard Dawkins, appeared only the other day. Maybe it hit the mark!

    http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/12/faith-schools-dawkins-minister

    A depressingly large number of intelligent and educated people, despite having outgrown religious faith, still vaguely presume without thinking about it that religious faith is somehow ‘good’ for other people, good for society, good for public order, good for instilling morals, good for the common people even if we chaps don’t need it. Condescending? Patronising? Yes, but isn’t that largely what lies behind successive governments’ enthusiasm for faith schools?

  9. tony e says:

    I hope this is not the start of a trend, (see American politicians for the worst examples) where our elected mp’s feel the need to align themselves with religion.

    Separation of religion and government. Period.

  10. Archa3ology says:

    King James Bible: the world was created in 4004BC
    Archaeologist: really? So strange then that I am holding in my hand a piece of pottery dated to 4090BC…
    King James Bible: you are mistaken, god created humans in 4004BC
    Archaeologist: Strange then that I am excavating a mesolithic grave from 6000BC…
    King James Bible: that is blasphemy!
    Archaeologist: Whatever man, I’m going to the pub.

  11. northern light says:

    “I am not in any way saying that to have another faith – or no faith – is somehow wrong.”

    Sorry Davey boy but according to the top dude in your faith there ain’t no other faiths allowed. JC his papa and the friendly ghost are the only way …all the others are fucked….ask Ratsy he will set you straight…

    ….And Jesus said follow me for I am the way and the light…non can get to the father except through me…..

    Seems pretty clear …right there in that old book you mentioned.

  12. Har Davids says:

    Doesn’t “try not to be an ass-hole 24/7″ suffice? I wouldn’t mind taking a leaf of some old book which tells us how to behave, but this ‘Bible’ is full of contradictions, so what kind of christianity are we supposed to embrace: the one with a bible in one hand, and a gun in the other?

  13. Broga says:

    Poor Dave will struggle to get into heaven with his £30 million. What was that about a camel and the eye of a needle. Mind you, he is doing his best to get lots of others in, “blessed are the poor” so they will be eligible. Wonder what his views are on paedophilia has his bible doesn’t seem to have done much to restrain that in the RC Church. Or his expenses thieving MPs. I think Dave, having had a look at the USA, is making a cynical pitch for the religious vote.

    No mention of “aggressive atheists”, I note.

  14. Buffy says:

    Third, we are a Christian country. And we should not be afraid to say so.

    Oh FFS, all of this whining suggesting they’re somehow terrified for their lives if they mention they’re Christians–as if they ever shut up about it.

  15. AngieRS says:

    Well, I expect people will see through this old guff. Hmm, I wonder if a split in the condems is on the cards. He’d need all the votes he can get, if that happens.

  16. tony e says:

    Buffy,

    This recent post on Jesus and Mo puts it far better than I ever could.

    http://www.jesusandmo.net/2011/10/19/badge2/

  17. elainek123 says:

    Lost a bye election so Cameron is on the march for any votes he can get.As usual with mps they say what they think people want to hear not what they think is right for the country.
    Cameron wants to go on youtube and see how religion is ridiculed and laughted at by milions and this may disuade him for going down the religious route..

  18. Stonyground says:

    “I am not in any way saying that to have another faith – or no faith – is somehow wrong.”

    Actually that is precisely what you are saying you odious and feeble-witted little man.

    Maybe the rioters should have behaved more Biblically and slaughtered men women and children as well as sacking the place. The Bible doesn’t say that it is OK to tolerate other faiths either, You are supposed to slaughter them without mercy and tear down their holy places.

  19. Don says:

    This seems an appropriate time to reference one of Hitch’s favourite rhetorical flourishes; can you name one good thing a believer could do because of their belief that a non-believer could not also do? No? Can you think of wicked things done and justified by belief which a non-believer would not do? Many.

    When people call for biblical values in society they are either ignorant or dishonest. Ignorant of what the OT actually presents as values, or aware but hoping that their audience is ignorant. Let us be very generous to the PM and assume he meant NT values only.

    Forgive your enemies, turn the other cheek, love those that hate you? I’m not inclined that way and I seriously doubt that the MoD is.

    Take no thought for tomorrow, consider the lilies, walk out on your family? No, that’s not for me. I work bloody hard for my family’s tomorrow and that’s what a man should do. I’m sure the Treasury would agree.

    He needs to be more specific.

  20. JohnMWhite says:

    “Archaeologist: Whatever man, I’m going to the pub.”

    Spoken like a true archaeologist. :)

    “I am not in any way saying that to have another faith – or no faith – is somehow wrong.”

    Then why are you saying that not following the Bible has lead to passive acceptance of immorality which led to riots and scandals and that sort of thing? You cannot have it both ways and since I presume you can tie your own shoes you are too intelligent to not be aware of that. You’re a lying toad, aren’t you, Mr. Cameron? You’re blowing a dog whistle to get the religious on your side despite blatantly not giving a toss about the meek and the poor and the downtrodden, aren’t you, Mr. Cameron? You’re not delivering good news to the poor or telling prisoners that they can go free like Jesus told you, are you, Mr. Cameron? That’s Biblical values for you…

    Or basically what Don said above. It is clear that the UK government does not operate on Biblical values, for good or for ill. These platitudes are empty, yet they still are something to worry about – if more and more politicians start getting it into their head that religion, and especially their diluted brand of it, is somehow appropriate to guide them and the country, we’ll wind up with something crazy like a wannabe-Catholic ignoring his Pope, listening directly to God and invading somewhere in the middle-east.

    Oh shit.

  21. JohnMWhite says:

    Of course, one should probably point out that Cameron has one thing right – a passive acceptance of immorality did lead to the riots. It’s just that it was the passive acceptance of the government and most MPs and the Lords, who were happy to watch giant conglomerates walk away from billions in owed taxes while sticking the knife into the youth and killing their dreams of education and a better chance. The rioters were the ones decidedly NOT passively accepting immorality. Cameron knows that, because he knows his party is soulless. Thus, he really feels the need to hitch his wagon to religion.

  22. Broga says:

    We have had 2000 years of religion and look where it has got us. Time to abandon it. Cameron wants votes.

  23. David says:

    If we’re a christian country then the riots were christian, the fat cats are christian the extremist blah blah blah. This is totally incoherent babble.

  24. AgentCormac says:

    “I know and fully respect that many people in this country do not have a religion. And I am also incredibly proud that Britain is home to many different faith communities..”

    Typical bloody Cameron – a speech that is supposed to be about lending real backbone to one cause ends up as a bunch of flaccid platitudes that tip-toe around the subject and say nothing at all in case they offend someone. As my old dad remarked to me the other day, ‘Where have all the statesmen gone? All we have these days is bloody politicians!’ Nice one, dad!

    BTW, Mr Cameron: biblical values my arse! The sooner this country – indeed every country – is free from the yoke of such nonsense the better.

  25. Broga says:

    Although he “fully respects” that many people do not have a religion he still forces them to spend their taxes on faith schools; allow churches tax exemptions; lets 26 unelected bishops interfere with legislation; lets the BBC to deluge us with religion while employing “Our Religious Correspondent; spends millions on luxury living for Ratzinger and his acolytes when they come here to lecture to us (has Ratzinger paid off the £6 million he owes the UK tax payer for his trip or has that been forgotten?)

  26. barriejohn says:

    Broga: Did you read this? (Blood pressure tablets at the ready!)

    http://www.secularism.org.uk/cameron-says-he-wants-to-enhance.html

  27. DicePlayGod says:

    “First, the King James Bible has bequeathed a body of language that permeates every aspect of our culture and heritage.

    Second, just as our language and culture is steeped in the Bible, so too is our politics.”

    Among the other things that fit the description in the first paragraph –
    – nursery rhymes
    – Shakespeare
    – commercial jingles

    Some of them we would like to have affect politics, some of them we wouldn’t. I’d say the Bible is one that we would rather did not affect politics.

  28. Buffy says:

    @tony e

    That is indeed perfect.

  29. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: No, I missed that piece. There is something really odd going on. The more religion fades, the fewer people attend church even for baptisms or weddings, the more “nominal” i.e. as much an atheist as I am if they thought about it, christians there are the more furious and to some extent influential are the remaining and decreasing christians. Why? It seems to me there is a hard core of christians in politics, the media, the BBC who, for their own perverse reasons think there is advantage in pushing the christian “message.”

    I don’t think for a moment that Cameron, or Rowan Williams for that matter, believes in all the faith bullshit. However, they find the christian “message” gives them some kind of platform, perhaps fills some kind of gap, (and as a politician you always need words and some basis for them to buttress your supposed philosophy) that is convenient.

    They are, of course, addressing the great and to a large extent uneducated UK public who would as soon blow their brains out as read a book. These “unthinkers” all have votes and they have never heard of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris etc but they are familiar with the minutiae of football teams. I may now be described as patronising, a snob etc. However, unlike the phony Cameron, Blair etc I regularly enjoy a pint and a game of darts with members of that group many of whom are my friends. But I am not blinded to their indifference to much that interests me. It is that indifference Cameron and co, learning from the USA, exploit.

  30. barriejohn says:

    You’re right, Broga.

    “Christian” = Good: “Atheist” = Axe Murderer.

    Politicians know only too well that this is the way that the vast majority of the sheep-like public perceive things, hence this type of thing:

    http://www.examiner.com/liberal-in-orlando/republican-mayor-admits-he-s-gay-used-taxpayer-money-for-alcohol-and-gay-porn

  31. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: Thanks for that link. There are some other points occur to me. One is the forgiveness often offered to christians who commit criminal acts. Compare that to the condemnation of atheists, however decent, merely for being an atheist. When some thieving or raping christian is exposed you may hear, as I have done, the comment, “I always thought he was a good christian.” An atheist is unlikely to be regarded as “good”. In fact, if they perform a good act the act will often be described as christian.

    So there is an entire overlay of language which unthinkingly gives christians a “good” rating and generous atheist acts are turned into good christians ones.

  32. Thoreau says:

    It is quite dismal to observe just how easily manipulated some people are. We walk down the same streets as these people, speak to them, work with them and live next door to them.

    The stupid bastards.

  33. Don says:

    Thoreau

    I have no idea where you live, but it sounds dreadful.

  34. Stuart W says:

    There has to be a good Jesus and Mo strip to be made from this –

    Mo: “It says here that David Cameron wants Britain to return to its Christian Values and oppose immorality more strongly.”

    Jesus: “But Christians trying to do that only have their hands tied by the politically correct domination of homosexuality and Islam.”

    Barmaid: “How about Christians simply demonstrate the virtues of their faith through things like charity work, being Good Samaritans and treating others how they would expect to be treated.”

    Jesus: “But how will that stop two gays sharing a hotel bed?”

  35. @blamer says:

    Whenever somebody says “Christian values” I wonder what on earth are these Biblical values that you’re wanting to teach us non-Christians?

    What are the superior values of the KJV that are needing to be taught to religious Muslims and secular Jews and atheist Buddists?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_values

    * don’t we love ours gods enough? or do we have to love your Christ?
    * are we not loyal to our spouses? less loyal than Christians?
    * must we renunce our worldly goods? renunce violence?
    * demostrate more forgiveness? and love of our enemies?
    * re-instate prayer in schools?
    * support government censorship?
    * abstinence-only education?
    * alternatives to science education?
    * laws against abortion? homosexuality?

  36. Wyocowboy says:

    so we should do mass murders, stone people, kill inocent men, women and children maybe because we want their land…thats what “god” had the Jews do….you be fuck’n crazy to go back to biblical princples!

  37. Trevor blake says:

    There are nearly no atheists in prison. The percentage of atheists in prison is less than in the general population. Did faith prod these men and women in the right direction?

  38. Lazy Susan says:

    Responses above mostly predictable – I admit I did not read them all. But I think there’s something to discuss here.

    Religion is mostly used for social control, and it achieves this by woo and mumbo jumbo. However, if we throw it out we have a baby-and-bathwater situation. I think the result is a fractured society where there is little in the way of common values.

    I’m not saying that religion gives especially good common values, or that it does it well, but it does address that problem, and if we throw it out then I believe we need to find (a) what common values we wish to have and (b) how best to promulgate them.

    Last Saturday I went to see Beauty and the Beast on stage. It was a super production (Edinburgh Lyceum) and the audience was full of children shouting “Oh no you don’t” and “He’s behind you” and so on. Amidst all the fun there were many moral messages. They included don’t judge people by appearances – the poor girl and poor boy and of course the Beast were all dressed in rags, but they were better people than the superficial sisters who were only interested in material wealth. Other messages included be loyal to your friends and keep your word and don’t give up too easily. Most people don’t see live theatre, but almost everyone watches TV. What moral messages do we get from X factor or Coronation Street? More worryingly, what morals do we get from Grand Theft Auto? Should we restore National Service and include some ethical training in it?

    People like Cameron go on about teaching right and wrong. They don’t seem to take the next step and realise that if morals have to be taught, it is because they are to some extent arbitrary and culturally dependent, not God-given. There is probably a lot hard-wired by evolution, but as Dawkins says in The Selfish Gene, we really do not want to advocate a morality based on evolution.

    In short, I have some sympathy with Cameron’s point.

  39. Paul M says:

    Brilliant, bring back stoning adulterers to death and see the house of commons shrink drastically in members.

  40. JohnMWhitte says:

    @Lazy Susan – starting out with a swipe at everyone being predictable isn’t likely to foster a decent debate.

    I have to disagree that without religion you’d have a fractured society with few common values. Your rationale seems to be that religion provides a way to demonstrate and spread values throughout a culture, and TV and computer games do not. Pantomimes, however, apparently do. I think perhaps the issue here is that you are just being very selective. If Beauty and the Beast can teach you the message “don’t just people by their appearance”… well, all sorts of things can. It doesn’t have to be the bible. It doesn’t have to be a church sermon. There’s just no necessity to it.

    Of course, I have my suspicions about that story anyway, since Belle is rewarded for not being repulsed by being gifted a handsome prince after all. Some lesson – “be nice to ugly people because they might not always be ugly! Win!”

    Lots of TV shows and computer games have very positive or meaningful messages as well. The Wire demonstrates how draconian drug-laws make life cheap and create a spiral of problems for a society that hurts its most vulnerable members the most, and just about any role-playing game (say, Pokemon, one of the Final Fantasy series, or Zelda) would be stacked with messages about being loyal to your friends and having determination. Again, no bible is necessary.

    The only way in which biblical or religious values are different is that they up the ante. They put celestial consequences on temporal actions. That’s not really a good thing. It just means there’s enormous pressure to conform to the rules, and invariably the rules you’ll be asked to conform to with the most zeal are the ones that hurt other people.

    A lot of your points remind me of this little op-ed from the Herald, which you might have seen if you’re in Edinburgh:

    http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/columnists/moral-judgment-has-its-roots-in-religious-faith.16204713

    This one’s just a bunch of assertions that secularism is somehow not going to work and those mean old secularists went and mistook the Prime Minister’s point by actually addressing the words that came out of his mouth. I have no sympathy for Cameron’s point, primarily because I don’t believe for a second he has any sympathy for it either. It was a platitude aimed at the audience in front of him and a way of making him look like a good person not by doing some good deed but by the shortcut of invoking nebulous religious ‘values’ that he blatantly does not believe in. I’m not sure Jesus would sign off on blinding protesters and crushing young peoples’ aspirations with unprecedented debt decided by an entire generation that got their education for free.

  41. Lazy Susan says:

    @JohnMWhite – Thanks for responding despite my opening line.

    Obviously I did not write as clearly as I thought I did. I don’t mean that without religion you’d have a fractured society with few common values. Common values is one thing we got from religion. If we chuck religion out we should find another way to get common values, because without them we will have no society. TV is probably the main medium capable of doing this at present. Other avenues like radio, TV, film and books also exist.

    But public broadcasting was set up to inform, educate and entertain, not instill common values. I think that having common values was something we took for granted when the country was more religious. Now it is an issue that we need to address explicitly. That is about as far as I go in agreeing with Cameron.

    Frankly I don’t know what Christian values are, so I am not happy with the idea of promoting them without deep discussion. Christians I know are generally as good as anyone else but I don’t see that they behave in “Christian” ways. In fact they seem to ignore most scripture and make up their own minds about right and wrong just like most other people, though they have blind spots on some topics like sexuality. The scary ones are those who read selected verses in the bible and decide that they have to proactively do god’s work on earth. Unfortunately they may be Christians too.

    I think we should try to develop a statement of values, and a way to promote them in our children. They will end up with values one way or another. I would rather they were not absorbed from Grand Theft Auto. The point about Beauty & the Beast was that I had not thought to what extent it was promoting values in children: but it was plain to see (and hear) – they were on the edges of their seats, totally engaged with the battle between good and evil going on in front of their eyes.