In the last issue of The Common Good Andy Flanagan said "This issue...is an attempt to grab the bull by the horns and lay open for debate the relationship between the Labour Party and Christianity...". Well it was a pretty good start, especially the opening article by Andy Reed MP. How we need to hear more of this.
In the States Barack Obama did a great job in getting Christians to vote Democrat, you only have to read his book “The Audacity of Hope” to understand the reason why. For me, brought up in the industrial north, Labour Party members and Christians, especially non-conformists, went together. As a teenager I even heard one Methodist Local Preacher say in the pulpit that you couldn’t be a Christian and a Tory. It was the theory that Labour got more from Methodism than it ever did from Marxism that underpinned this naivety. After all Keir Hardy wrote in 1910 “The impetus which first of all drove me into the Labour movement and the inspiration which carried me on in it, has been derived more from the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth than all other sources combined.” And there are many other examples as Graham Dale illustrates in “God’s Politicians”. Wasn’t this indeed the driving force of the Labour Party?
It was only when I first went to the European Parliament in 1989 that I realized my analysis was flawed. In the Socialist Group, where we Labour members sat, it suddenly became clear that Socialists from countries such as France, Spain, Portugal and Italy were very much opposed to the church; in fact their parties had often been created to counter the power of the church in their countries. One December, as a children’s choir was singing carols in one part of the Parliament, a French comrade stood up in the chamber to demand that such expressions of religion should not be allowed in the place.
Over the years I’ve had the impression that many in the Labour Party would have supported my French colleague were it happening in UK Town Halls or Westminster.
Many attacks on faith come from “Socialists”, many of them are valid when we see and hear what so-called spokesmen (it’s invariably men) of some denominations have to say. (It was good to hear Joel Edwards, former DG of The Evangelical Alliance, in the promotional video for HOPE 2008, say that too often the church is seen as a million condemnatory, wagging fingers; instead we have a chance to show two million open arms being there for people.) But the worrying aspect is that there seems to be a resurgence of militant atheism that has no room for anybody with faith having an opinion, in the mode of Richard Dawkings. And we often hear that we live in a post Christian society.
At the beginning of December 2008 the annual European Prayer Breakfast took place in the European Parliament. Several hundred people from the EU Institutions, Embassies, Member State Parliaments, NATO and overseas come together around the person of Jesus. Over the past decade there have been some prominent keynote speakers. In 2007 the Dutch PM was the chief guest. As he was introduced with an impressive CV he took the podium and said “that should also include that I am a Christian”. How many European politicians, apart from Ian Paisley, would say that?
A year later the closing prayers were said by the Dutch Deputy PM; before he led the prayers he said that he came from a small religious party in The Netherlands who having gone into coalition had been given the DPM post. He said “Who would have thought 10 years ago that in The Netherlands a Christian Party would be part of government.” His most interesting comment was “When we hear of a post-Christian age or that we live in a secular society and with the current economic crisis, I believe that we are moving into a post-secular age.”
He made the point that people are looking for far better things than material possessions , that there is a need for a spiritual dimension to our lives. It was the very point that Barack Obama makes in the chapter on Faith in his book.
Andy Reed wrote “The next generation of exciting young Christian leaders are responding to the challenge of the 21st century outside of our traditional political boundaries.” Last July I was asked to be a mentor, to lecture and lead workshops for a gathering of several score young Christian graduates and post-graduates from all over Europe. Here were future leaders of business, commerce, finance and politics; they were a great bunch of people. How many would be in the Labour Party? Not many I guess.
If we want a real input into Labour politics, first of all we have to start being upfront about what motivates us; we do “do God” but we do it without ramming it down the throats of others. Our party colleagues and the electorate need to know what our driving force is. All CSM members will have various opinions on issues like abortion, same sex marriages or stem cell research. As Obama says “Assume we only had Christians within our borders. Whose Christianity would we teach in the school?” He goes on “What our deliberative, pluralistic democracy does demand is that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific values. It requires that their proposals must be subject to argument and amenable to reason.”
If we want to help to bring about a post-secular age then CSM members must never stop proclaiming those values that inspired Keir Hardie. In fact we should proclaim them to the extent that young people want to know more and more about them. As Andy Reed said “There is a golden opportunity to shape the future if only we are positive enough to seize it.”
A Youth Perspective on the proposal to change our name from CSM to Christians on the Left ~ A New Na
A youth perspective on the name change (Author: Francesca Chin-Lewis)
Please vote for this option: not co-option
Ian writes on the name change ahead of the AGM. (Author: Ian Geary)
Faith And Young Labour
CSM member Simon Darvill talks about his recent election as National Chair of Young Labour (Author: Simon Darvill)
It's a wonderful life
Ian Geary shares his thoughts on the film 'It's a wonderful life' (Author: Ian Geary)
Faith in Politics?
CSM Chair Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP uses his own experience to explore the question of faith in politics (Author: Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP)
Should Preaching Confront Capitalism?
James Lee examines whether the church should challenge capitalism itself (Author: James Lee)
From Rhetoric to Reality
Sam Brown uses the example of the Jubilee Debt Campaign and the Robin Hood Tax and examines how, as Christians, we can move from conversation to action. (Author: Sam Brown)
At Its Best When At Its Broadest
An essay which says Labour needs to be open to a post-secular, post-liberal and pro-faith approach. (Author: Ian Geary)
God and Politics - Transformed to transform
Theology student Marcus Smith lays out how politics looks when God is allowed to be God. (Author: Marcus Smith)
Theos talks about religious rhetoric in politics
Religious rheotric, is it worth the pain? (Author: Paul Bickley)
Between Plato And Aristotle
Tim Stacey on the Christian Socialist Movement, the Movement for Change and a vision of a Big Society (Author: Tim Stacey)
CSM Stories 'Why I am a Christian and on the Left'
Ian Geary explores in depth his journey in faith and politics. Very helpful for considering your own position and why you hold it. (Author: Ian Geary)
An address by ArchBishop of Southwark Peter Smith celebrating CSM's 50 year legacy
Cathloic Arch Bishop Peter Smith praises CSM's passion for justice and expounds its biblical basis (Author: Sam Buck)
Advent Reflection - Week 4 - Liberation
Andy Walton writes our final Advent Reflection (Author: Andy Walton)
Advent Reflections - Week 3 - Humility
Our third Advent reflection (Author: Sam Buck)
Advent reflection – week 2 – Equality
Our second advent reflection. (Author: Sam Buck)
Advent reflection - week 1 - Prophecy
Over the season of Advent CSM will be exploring the meaning of the Christmas story in a series of reflections. This is the first... (Author: Sam Buck)
Religion and Patriotism
CSM member Mark Greer explores the connections between faith and state loyalty. (Author: Mark Greer)
Faith and politics
homepage (Author: )
Faith and Party Politics: Responding to Three Criticisms
Andy Flannagan tackles three of the reasons why Christians don't get involved in party politics. (Author: Andy Flannagan)
50 years of CSM
Stephen Beer reflects on the movement 50 years on (Author: Stephen Beer)
Tuitio Fidei et Obsequium Pauperum - In defence of the Archbishop
An article in defence of Rowan Williams. (Author: Rob Carr)
Christian Socialist Movement - 50 years on
Stephen Beer writes about fifty years of CSM - and looks to the future. (Author: Stephen Beer)
Faith and Class Politics
Ex-paramilitary and peace campaigner explains how Christianity and Socialism mix in Northern Ireland. (Author: Billy Mitchell)
POLITICS AND CHRISTIANITY - A CSM VOLUNTEER SPEAKS
At the end of his time with CSM, CSM volunteer James Somerville-Meikle makes the case for political engagement.. (Author: Andy Flannagan)
Labour as a radical tradition
This article by Dr Maurice Glasman will be published shortly in the Soundings Magazine. It details Labour's roots in the Christian faith and reflects what Labour can learn now from this source. (Author: Dr Maurice Glasman)
What are the top six reasons Christians don't get involved in politics?
An exploration of six of the biggest reasons Christians stay clear of political involvement, with responses explaining how they might be overcome. (Author: Simon Watkinson)
The History of CSM
The early Christian socialists; FD Maurice, Charles Kingsley, J M Ludlow and others, might have found little common ground with those who gathered at Kingsway Hall in 1960. Most of them knew little about socialist thought or political engagement, though (Author: Dr. Andrew Bradstock)
Christianity and Politics: A Member Reflects
A reflection on Chrisitanity and Politics by CSM member Edward Jacobs (Author: Edward Jacobs)
Government's Record on Christianity and Faith
"People should stand up for what they believe...our society will be better because people with convictions about what a good society means are playing a part in creating that society.” -Prime Minister Gordon Brown (Author: )
The Politics of Integrity
In the second of his contributions to the Everything Christian site, Chris Le Marquand looks at what Christians can learn about integrity considering the recent expenses crisis etc. (Author: Chris Le Marquand)
Is Loyalty a Virtue?
In the first of a series of political blogs for Everything Christian (www.everythingchristian.co.uk), Chris Le Marquand explores the issue of loyalty from a Christian perspective. (Author: Chris Le Marquand)
Recapturing a sense of what is the Common Good.
We need collectively to be honest and realistic about what we ask our politicians to achieve, and not push them to promise what cannot or should not be delivered within the resources that we have. (Author: Richard Vautrey, Vice President, Methodist Church)
Why it’s not enough just to vote
The question is, "Where are the people of God who have the prophetic insight to put things right?" (Author: Jeremy Dillon)
Ten Things Labour has done for Christian Communities
The Labour government welcomes and supports Christian communities in living out the shared values which are the foundation of healthy local communities. Here are ten things that the government has done to make real that support. (Author: Ed Cox)
Why politics ?
18 yr old David Bagg gives us his perspective on why God is calling a generation into politics. Personal calling and strong convictions in a heartfelt article. (Author: David Bagg)
Monday night (9th September) saw Tony Blair deliver the first of series of seminars entitled ‘New Perspectives on Faith and Development’ . He concluded that 'faith matters' and that faith groups have a massive role to play in development (Author: Andy Freeman)
Taking the Next Step
Allan Davies explains how rewarding it can be to join the Labour Party, as well as the process for joining and becoming active in your local Party branch. (Author: Allan Davies)
Breaking the Mould: Politics for the next generation.
I believe that the biggest sin the church has committed is to make God appear irrelevant, uninteresting and downright boring. It’s the same with many politicians. (Author: Jeremy Dillon)
Fighting the Norwich North by-election
CSM member Chris Ostrowski was Labour's candidate in Norwich. He writes about his experience. (Author: Chris Ostrowski)
Does religion have a role to play in British politics?
The interaction between religiously inspired morality and politics: One cannot remove morality from political discourse and so it is far better to have it out in public. (Author: Mike Ion)
Why I Joined CSM
Tom Quinn, part of Young CSM, tells us why he joined the Christian Socialist Movement. (Author: Tom Quinn)
Politics and theology: Something to say
Simon opens our new 'Theology' section by taking on the challenge of why we should have biblical interpretation behind our politics and ethics. (Author: Simon Hall)
Good to Great: What do we expect of CSM ?
Terry Wynn brings a thought provoking look at our expectations for the movement. What do we want CSM to be and how can we rise to the challenge together and see God at work in our movement ? (Author: Terry Wynn)