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Godless Tory MPs must remain closeted

Godless Tory MPs must remain closeted

James Arbuthnot MP, above, who is about to retire, claims that there is pressure on Conservative politicians to keep quiet about not being religious.

Revealing his atheism for the first time in his 28-year career, Arbuthnot said he felt he could only now say that he is an atheist because he is not seeking re-election.

Speaking in a debate on a bill to allow prayers in council meetings, the North East Hampshire MP likened the need to keep quiet to the pressure that has been faced by people who are gay.

Arbuthnot predicted that, by saying he is “not in the least bit religious”, he was likely to “disappoint” some of his constituents and family members.

During a Commons debate on a bill which would allow prayers at the start of council meetings, Arbuthnot – a former cabinet minister – told MPs he was brought up in a Christian household, having been christened and confirmed.

But since then I have lost those beliefs and faith that I once had and I am perfectly comfortable with that. But this is the first time I have ever actually acknowledged that in public.

And it may be true that the pressure on a Conservative politician, particularly of keeping quiet about not being religious, is very similar to the pressure that there has been about keeping quiet about being gay.

He added:

For the avoidance of doubt,  am not gay either but I just wanted to say that it is telling that it has taken me 28 years in this House, and frankly in the knowledge that I won’t be standing in the next election, to make this point.

The Local Government (Religious etc Observances) Bill, introduced by Conservative MP for Rossendale and Darwen Jake Berry, would allow for prayers at the start of council meetings but leave decisions about length, format and faith to individual authorities.

During the report-stage debate, Conservative Sir Edward Leigh argued that prayers that take into account Britain’s Christian heritage could help in the fight against extremism:

As a little religion actually stops outrageous intolerance.

edward-leigh-mp

Leigh, above, who was a private secretary to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, claimed Britain’s whole foundation was built on Christian values – and that should be recognised in local government:

Because otherwise we just lose contact with our history and I think actually in losing contact with our history of tolerance which has been the foundation, the essence of the British state, we actually encourage religious extremism, because often it’s in the families where there is absolutely no religion that people are led astray sometimes into following bizarre sects and the rest.

He added:

There is a grave danger of we in Britain becoming severed from our roots, lacking an understanding of our history, such a deracinated population would be much easier to manipulate, whether it’s a Hitler or Stalin or some other modern day tyrant whose dominion you fear.

And, according to this report, Jake Berry said  the measure would allow councils to conduct prayers the start of their meetings, but leaves to each authority decisions about length, format and faith.

He added:

I believe and still believe that there is more power in prayer than the stroke of any minister’s pen or in fact the power of the chair or any division of this House.

The private members’ bill – which had the support of both front benches – passed its remaining stages in the Commons unopposed, meaning it will now go to the House of Lords for further scrutiny.

Hat tip: Angela K.

18 responses to “Godless Tory MPs must remain closeted”

  1. Dave Madley says:

    These people keep prattling on about Christian values when Human Values would suffice.There is no evidence for prayers being answered although it may be of some comfort to those doing so.We should not be indoctrinating children with the lies and false hopes of prayer .When has religion been tolerant and not manipulative ?

  2. Brian Jordan says:

    “I believe and still believe that there is more power in prayer than the stroke of any minister’s pen or in fact the power of the chair or any division of this House.”
    Are we then to take it that this power will follow the prayers of the party predominating in a parliamentary or council prayer session? That a party need not get a majority in an election but merely muster a majority at prayers?

  3. barriejohn says:

    There has always been a very strong Christian lobby in Parliament, and I remember Christians in my younger days regularly contacting MPs who did not even represent them to support their attempts to stem the progress of “godless” legislation (decriminalizing of homosexuality, etc). I will repost the following link, as I don’t think that many revisit previous threads, and it says a lot about the attitude of the religious in both American and British politics:

    http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/beck-our-founding-principles-require-christianity-receive-preferential-treatment

  4. L.Long says:

    Its estimated that t least 10% of USA congress is non-believing, but to keep getting paid they have to keep quiet.

  5. barriejohn says:

    This has been widely reported, and may have been discussed here before:

    http://www.politico.com/blogs/charlie-mahtesian/2013/01/nonbelievers-on-rise-in-congress-153418.html

  6. barriejohn says:

    Getting back to the UK:

    http://christiansinparliament.org.uk/

    Christianity is alive and well in our Parliament today and Christians in Parliament (CiP) seeks to be a Group in which all Christians within the Houses of Parliament can join together and thrive.

    CiP is an All Party Parliamentary Group that exists to make a positive contribution to all areas of policy discussion and to support Christians of all denominations and parties in putting their faith and values into practice in their work in the Houses of Parliament.

    CiP is supported by Bible Society, who employ a Senior Parliamentary Officer, Mark Harris, and a Parliamentary Officer, James Lee, to facilitate the work of the Group.

  7. L.Long says:

    what always amazes me is that religious go on & on about gawds plan, but they are SO egotistical that the omni-everything psychotic imaginary friend is SO weak willed in doing his plan that when a few sheeple fall on their knees to give him a blow-job that he will suspend the laws of nature JUST FOR THEM!??!?!
    But ya know if the prayers and belief help stop the from killing and raping then let them pray, its cheaper than trying to get the rape charge to stick and put them in jail.

  8. tom80 says:

    The only reason I can think of is that if he had declared himself to be an atheist then he may have thought that he would loose an election and no longer be an MP. I would much prefer that MP’s are honest about their faith or lack of it and then when we cast a vote we all know what we are getting in parliament.

  9. Angela_K says:

    I find it very worrying that the only person to oppose this bill was James Arbuthnot, were other MPs too lazy or too scared to oppose this bill in the face of militant Christianity? And where was the self claimed Atheist Millband, will he turn out to be a closet religionist like Blair?

    There isn’t a shred of evidence to support the efficacy of prayer. If prayer actually works then let’s close down all the Hospitals because all you need is to pray and you’ll be cured.

  10. Caute says:

    How does being a politician square with being religious…

    Politics is all about deceiving people, misrepresention of information, denial of truth, ignoring evidence, disingenuous use of language to obfustcate the facts and propagation of lies…all to suit one’s own agenda….oh….hang on a minute…..

  11. Caute says:

    Leigh looks like he is no a stranger to heavy duty booze and fags…..very florid….like many other puffed up, over fed, hypertensive godly bigots. Hairs goin’ yellow too…as rotten on the ouside as the inside. Got a the typical booze lovers strawberry nose too. He better start saying his prayers..he is not far from the panic ridden last breath death bed uncertainty about the existence of his god. Poor sod.

  12. Trevor Blake says:

    Clement Attlee of the UK and Adolph Hitler of Germany. Both led their nation at nearly the same time. One was an atheist and one was a sincere, devout, life-long and never excommunicated Christian. Between the two, Sir Leigh, whom would you prefer to serve under? The atheist, you say? Ah.

  13. barriejohn says:

    Caute: Misrepresentation of information? Surely not!

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/7268854.stm

    Sir Edward Leigh is a devout Roman Catholic and Knight of the Military Order of Malta, who, in 2010, turned down the offer of British Ambassadorship to “The Holy See”. He is President of the Conservative Cornerstone Group. and author of the pamphlet Faith, Flag and Family (ring any bells?).

  14. barriejohn says:

    The Cornerstone Group:

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

    “Traditional values” again!

  15. Daz says:

    “often it’s in the families where there is absolutely no religion that people are led astray sometimes into following bizarre sects and the rest.”

    [citation bloody-well needed, old chap]

  16. barriejohn says:

    Daz: “Bizarre sects”. Like people who believe that a poor peasant girl was impregnated by their god two thousand years ago, giving birth to a son who could walk on water and raise people from the dead, who then rose from the dead himself and flew up into heaven, from where, if they eat bread that has been specially blessed by a priest, he physically enters into their bodies today? Yeah – nothing “bizarre” about that little lot!

  17. Har Davids says:

    So, the British Empire’s whole foundation was built on Christian values as well. I wonder if the inhabitants of most of the colonies really enjoyed the ministrations of their colonial, Christian masters.

  18. 1859 says:

    Leigh:”There is a grave danger of we in Britain becoming severed from our roots, lacking an understanding of our history, such a deracinated population would be much easier to manipulate, whether it’s a Hitler or Stalin or some other modern day tyrant whose dominion you fear….”

    Sorry, I just can’t let this piece of garbled crap pass.What he wants to say is this – ‘Only by sticking to christian roots will a country be protected from tyrants and dictators.’ If Mr. Leigh knew any history, he would quickly see there is absolutely no evidence that holding firmly(blindly) to any religious faith protects anyone from anything – diseases, tyrants,catastrophes, car accidents, murders, wars,natural disasters, etc., etc.

    And what a lovely word he uses ‘deracinated’ – I suppose it gives this type of trash some sort of intellectual weight. But what exactly does he want to suggest by using this word? A society ‘up-rooted’? – like Syrian refugees perhaps? A ‘de-raced’ society? a society without one predominant ‘race’? Or is he talking about a ‘rancid’ society? Liker butter melted and coagulated? A stupid politician – the bane of democracy.
    But well done Mr. Arbuthnot for telling the truth after 23 years.