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Mr Cameron is trying to please Christian voters by saying nice things to us: Archbishop Nichols approves. We mustn’t, however, be taken in

He will press forward with gay ‘marriage’ whatever we say

By on Monday, 9 April 2012

David Cameron listens to the Westminster Abbey boys' choir at an Easter reception for religious leaders at 10 Downing Street

David Cameron listens to the Westminster Abbey boys' choir at an Easter reception for religious leaders at 10 Downing Street

Archbishop Vincent Nichols has now given his seal of approval to David Cameron’s recent attempt to get the Christian vote onside. So, here is a question: do you really think the archbishop should have done that? Or are you, like me, more than a little sceptical about the sincerity of Mr Cameron’s recent words? Pumping his fist in the air, apparently, he said: “I think there’s something of a [Christian] fightback going on, and we should welcome that. The values of the Bible – the values of Christianity – are the values that we need.” He referred to former Archbishop George Carey’s warning that Christians face gradual marginalisation, which he uttered after Bideford town council had been banned by a court order from opening its proceedings with prayer. Referring to this case, Mr Cameron pointed out that the Government had responded by amending the law. He also indicated, very interestingly, that if necessary, the law might be changed to allow Christians to wear the cross and crucifix at work.

Does this mean that he is in the process of executing a new U-turn, having given the strong impression that his Government was becoming, in the words of the splendidly named Daily Mail columnist Alexander Boot, “the most aggressively atheistic government in our history”? I hope so, of course: but if so, he had better begin by telling the Home Office to stop opposing the BA check-in clerk Nadia Eweida and the nurse Shirley Chaplin who have gone together to the European Court of Human Rights to claim that they were discriminated against when their employers barred them from wearing the cross. Cameron says that “if the ECHR does uphold the ban we will consider what further action we must take. We could potentially change the law, though our view is that the existing Equality Act gives people the right already.” Well, if he really thinks that, why are Government lawyers opposing these women in Strasbourg? Is this a case of the right hand (Tory) not knowing what the left hand (Lib Dem) is doing? Or is he speaking with forked tongue?

Sorry, I don’t buy this great pro-Christian declaration of the Prime Minister’s. Someone compared it last week with George Galloway’s successful attempt in Bradford to exploit the Muslim vote by strongly implying that he was himself a secret Muslim. One of his leaflets began thus: “God KNOWS who is a Muslim. And he KNOWS who is not. Instinctively, so do you. Let me point out to all the Muslim brothers and sisters what I stand for.” This really does look to me like Cameron pointing out to all the Christian brothers and sisters what he stands for: just the same as them, really. The difference is that Galloway got away with it. It seems to me that Christians have to make sure that Cameron doesn’t. If he allows us to wear the cross in public, that’s fine. But the institution of marriage is entirely another matter, and it’s on a quite different level of importance. He recently told church representatives gathered at Number 10: “I hope we won’t fall out too much over gay marriage. There’ll be some strong arguments and some strong words.”

Well indeed there will. This is where it matters. Throwing us a little tidbit here and there is not, I sincerely trust, going to buy us off, despite Archbishop Nichols’s welcome for Cameron’s smooth overtures. I prefer the stance of another bishop, Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury, who got much nearer to the root of the matter when he said at his Chrism Mass last week that “The laity [that’s us] … have an enormous task of transforming a society marked by a ‘dictatorship of relativism’, of which the attempt by the Government to redefine marriage was one of the latest signs.”

This was, of course, a reference to the former Cardinal Ratzinger’s famous last sermon before he was elected Pope, the following extract from which, with all due humility, I diffidently suggest to Archbishop Nichols as being a passage he might well with profit read, mark, learn and inwardly digest:

How many winds of doctrine we have known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking… The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves – thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth. Every day new sects are created and what St Paul says about human trickery comes true, with cunning which tries to draw those into error (cf Eph 4, 14). Having a clear faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labelled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and “swept along by every wind of teaching”, looks like the only attitude [acceptable] to today’s standards. We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognise anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.

However, we have a different goal: the Son of God, true man. He is the measure of true humanism. Being an “adult” means having a faith which does not follow the waves of today’s fashions or the latest novelties.

Mr Cameron’s “rebranding” of the old principled but sometimes rebarbative Toryism does indeed sometimes look like following “the waves of today’s fashions or the latest novelties”. But is it fair to accuse him of “dictatorship” in this? Surely, that’s the opposite of the impression he wants to create? The fact is, however, that the word “dictatorship” is all too appropriate to describe his underlying attitude: therein lies the brilliance of the Pope’s original analysis. Relativism isn’t soft and accommodating: it’s ruthless and unbending. A dictator is someone who imposes his will with an iron fist, even though it may be in a soft and cuddly glove. The old dictators were greatly given to “democratic” plebiscites and elections, which they always won with 99 per cent of the vote. Mr Cameron’s version of that is the “consultation”, which is carried out with the proviso that whatever we say when we are consulted, it will make no difference to him: he is going to do it anyway. It is clear that the Coalition for Marriage’s petition (see here; if you haven’t signed it, do so now), judging by its present rate of growth, will end up with well over half a million signatures: it will be one of the highest totals ever attracted by an online petition.

But Mr Cameron, the Dictator of Relativism, will ignore it. His attempts to get the Christian vote, however, do seem to show that he realises he may have a problem with us, and that we need to be appeased. We must do nothing (and neither must our bishops and, especially, archbishops) to indicate that we have been taken in by his attempts to pacify us. A luta continua: the struggle goes on. We mustn’t weaken now. Cameron, for all his soft words, is still the enemy.

  • Cestius

    I suspect the truth is more simple.  Typical of a politician, he is trying to have both the “pink” vote and the traditional Christian one, while really not intending to do much for either group.

  • chrism

    Spot on.

  • MRF Thorne

    A fantastic post from Mr Oddie. It is obvious that the number of people who really care about preserving the time-honoured definition of marriage (as opposed to those who are largely indifferent)  far outstrip those who seek to redefine it, which necessarily can only be a minority of a minority. 

  • J F Smith

    I don’t understand why C4M did their own petition site. If they had used the government’s e-petitions system, they could have forced a debate in parliament with the numbers they have.

  • W Oddie

    But he is doing a very great deal for the pink vote, much less, very much  for us, and a great deal AGAINST us. He has made his choice, quite clearly. We have to show that he has miscalculated.

  • Emma07

    I quite agree with Mr Oddie.  Sometimes Cameron reminds me of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Catholic people please remember that its possible to be conservative without being Conservative.  Perhaps we should consider that at the local elections coming up. I know most of us don’t want a Socialist government, but I personally don’t want a Conservative government either that blatently robs the poor of this country at the expense of the rich, creates a 2 tier NHS leaving the marginalised with a basic second level education and creates Academies which often hide wonton academic failings in our education system and deprives our young people particularly in the North of England of any form of decent education with the exception of some faith schools. Mr Cameron is a politician why do you think he became Prime Minister? He’s only interested in his own party and his own votes.  Be careful you are not eaten by the wolf!

  • ms Catholic state

    I think Mr Cameron shows a slightly contemptous attitude towards Christianity and Christians.  Actions speak louder than words
    Well said Mr Oddie.

  • JByrne24

    Yes it could easily have been done. That is all too obvious.

    The reason, they did not do this, is that they do not want a debate in Parliament.

    And why would that be?  Think about it.

  • JByrne24

    This seems to me to be a fantastic discovery.

    A (very) senior politician is, apparently, trying to please voters, even Christian voters! You never know, Mr Cameron might also be caught out trying to please Muslin voters, Jewish voters, atheist voters…  ….etc etc.  Wow! Can you believe it?  He might even be looking for votes.

    Watch out! There’s a politician out for votes!

    Emma07 what can you actually DO?   Well you can vote Labour or LibDem (atheist Ed or atheist Nick) if you don’t wish to vote Tory. But these other two alternatives, I would guess, really want to do more of the nasty things that you and William Oddie don’t like. Perhaps abstention (from voting) or spoiling you ballot paper might be your only options.

  • JByrne24

    William Oddie writes about his apparent confusion: “Is this a case of the right hand (Tory) not knowing what the left hand (Lib Dem) is doing? Or is he [Cameron] speaking with forked tongue?”

    The difficulty arises, I believe, from the statement: “…when their employers barred them from wearing the cross.” 
    I think this shows a sadly common misunderstanding among this website’s community.
    The employers concerned simply have a uniform dress-code. The employees concerned have freely accepted this uniform dress-code as a condition of their employment contract. 

    The dress-code can only be modified to comply with a religious requirement of the individual’s particular faith.
    Does anyone really think that being a Christian REQUIRES you to wear a VISIBLE cross?

  • Scyptical Chymist

    As you might expect I am in the sceptical camp with you Dr Oddie. David Cameron needs to demonstrate he recognises the views of Christians with his deeds and not just blandishments. I think the Archbishop of Westminster should be more circumspect before taking him at face value.

  • Charles Martel

    Cameron is a hypocritical shyster. Archbishop Nichols should know better….but as we know, they both value pink opinion far more than their own natural constituency. Shame on both of you!

  • Adela

     According to this article (, if you read it till the end, you’ll see that muslim women are not required to wear a veil either, it’s their own choice, so why should anyone be forbidden from wearing a cross (a much more discrete sign of a person’s religion) if they choose to?

  • John Eldon

    One only has to remember Cameron`s comments on Gay Marriage at a recent Conservative Conference to see where his heart is. The major concern of modern day politicians is to be reelected, and I am afraid that many naive well meaning folk risk be taken in by this political double-talk.
    A snake in the grass without much grass………………… ?

  • theroadmaster

    In order to win the “populist” vote, Cameron is prepared to ditch policies, which conservatives typically in the past would have regarded as sacrosanct, in relation to social or religious mores.  He is trying to be all things to all people and really is ending up as representing not very much to anyone in the process.  He has tweaked his speeches for the audiences he is addressing and does not seem to mind throwing a bone to one particular sector while undermining their core values by promoting legislation to win favour with another interest group.  It is a vote-grabbing exercise and comes across as rather cynical and shallow.  Christians must not be bought by Cameron’s overtures regarding legal protection for those religious symbols, while at the same time, he throws open the offer of a “consultation” with people of Faith, which some not unsurprisingly view as a smokescreen for a government biased towards a predetermined outcome for the future legislation.

  • Marcella Carmen C.

    Excellent article, thank you !!!

  • teigitur

    Mr Cameron is worse even than Tony Blair. He knew what morality was, but chose to ignore it. Mr Cameron does not know are have any.

  • Edmund Burke

    Mr Cameron, like Mr Blair who still dazzles him, is promoting a totally unConservative agenda, which is a synthesis of the worst of Left and Right; the culture of entitlement and worship of private judgement in matters of morality of the Left, and the materialistic worship of “Choice” of the Right. It is a lethal cocktail.

  • Edmund Burke

    Possibly true. Blair had a Messianic degree of self belief, whereas Cameron believes in nothing.

  • Apostolic

    All too true.

  • Edmund Burke

    By now Cameron’s disguise has fallen away to reveal a wolf in wolf’s clothing, so there is less reason to be taken in.

  • JByrne24

    Orthodox (traditional) Muslin women are so-required. A really true Muslim woman would wear a veil. However any such Muslin woman would never work in a position where she fronted customers or clients of both sexes in public in the first place.
    They do not work as waitresses etc. in even modern Muslin countries such as Turkey. Otherwise, if people have CHOSEN to sign a contract of employment which requires a uniform dress-code, I don’t think there is anything wrong in holding them to it.

  • JByrne24

    MRF Thorne wrote: ” ….those who seek to redefine it [marriage], which necessarily can only be A MINORITY OF A MINORITY. ” (my capitals).

    Yet another sympathetic poster (theroadmaster) writes: ” In order to win the “populist” vote, Cameron is prepared to ditch policies….”

    So just what are we dealing with here?  Sucking up to a (“strident”, of course) minority of a minority or seeking populism?

    The criticisms of progressive policy on this website are incoherent and very confused.

    To any reading this who are considering becoming Catholics (perhaps Anglicans, among others) and who are dissuaded by the usual genre of postings and articles here, I would point out that the views expressed are often very different from those of the leading Catholics in our country.

  • Benedict Carter

    One shouldn’t be taken in by ANYTHING approved by Archbishop Nichols, the man who officially promotes sacrilege with his Soho Masses pick-up point for homosexuals. 

  • theroadmaster

    I think it is you who are confused regarding what you call “incoherent and  very confused” argumentation in relation to Cameron’s decision to favor the redefinition of marriage in favour of same-sex couples.   The arguments given by people on this forum in favor of maintaining the status quo, are firmly based on religious, social, historical and anthropological reasons.  Why should inclusion of an accusation of “populism” against the present incumbent in no. 10 Downing st,  be seen as “confused”?  It is a valid point to make and is in addition to the foregoing arguments that I already have mentioned.

  • Nicolas Bellord

    I do not think it a question of insincerity on the part of David Cameron but surely much more to do with the sheer ignorance of a relativist.  I saw a list of leading politicians from all parties and the majority of them seem to have read PPE at Oxford.  I always regarded PPE as the ultimate narrow  soft option akin to some of the weirder degrees such as media studies etc offered by ex-polytechnics.

    I find the present Conservative party so adrift from its traditional policies that I have written to my MP to tell him I will not be voting for him until things change.

    And Mr Byrne rabbits on about dress codes.  I think Sharma Chraktabata of Liberty (excuse any misspelling) got it right on the box when she said that provided there was no health and safety issue involved common decency should allow people to wear religious symbols.

    I am reminded of the Turing test whereby if one is unable to distinguish between a human being and a computerised robot then artificial intelligence will be with us.  To-day however it is the human beings whom employers wish to transform into computerised robots who become more and more like heartless machines rather than computers becoming like human beings.

  • LocutusOP

     Why don’t you vote for a 4th party?

    Is there surely no other party  or independent candidate who can get people to vote for parties outside the 3 main ones?

  • JabbaPapa

     Another day, another false statement. ho hum …

    Orthodox (traditional) Muslin women are so-required.

    This is not true — it is a requirement in some ethnic goups that happen to be of the Muslim religion generally. Most muslim women who wear the veil do so by their own choice, not because of any coercion — notwithstanding some minority cases where such attempts at coercion may exist.

  • diarmuidlee

    Methinks the archbishop has a touch of the ‘vicar of bray’ about him. His own ego appears to be his highest goal.

  • Chris Hall

    Well, if that had used the government website they couldn’t “correct” the total for all the paper copies that they were sent, the figure on the c4m website seems to have been “corrected” by about 250,000 paper based signatures, you can see the jumps here:

  • playup27

    ‘Relativistic’ approach to truth : this is not an either or argument hinting at fertlle middle ground to grow ones tomatoes on to everyones benefit,forgettting of coarse that Gods foolishness(Why did Catherine of Aragon not have a baby boy?) is infinitely above mans Wisdo.’He who is not for me is against me’ and The Church has no option but to stand up for the Truth by witnessing to God.Politicians just love the ‘middle ground’ do they not -fertile ground for votes and Cameron must surley have enough on his plate right now without infringing on ‘natural law’ putting even more money into Lawyers pockets

  • JByrne24

    “And Mr Byrne rabbits on about dress codes.”
    It is unnecessary to turn a nice furry creature into a verb in order to be rude.

    But I do keep stressing this “dress-code” thing, because it is the one and only matter that is involved here. 

  • JByrne24

    I was sorry to see that JabbaPapa is again so sadly misinformed.

    The traditional Muslin woman must ALWAYS wear a veil in a situation where she is required to “front” members of both sexes.

    The ultra-orthodox would never take a job where they would be required to “front” members of the public of both sexes. 

  • JByrne24

    I didn’t say that [your question ending "confused"].

    I rather wrote of what seems to me to be the confusion between claims by yourself and others of, on the one hand, pandering to a small minority, and on the other hand, of populism. 

    Your confused backwoodsmen simply can’t have it both ways. 

    I note that you are “a populism” (blunt end) person. But there are many other “small minority” or sharp end-ons around.

    [PS: I may have used the "end" words incorrectly  -  my Jonathan Swift escapes me a bit.]

  • JByrne24

    I’m sorry (but not surprised) that there are no “takers” to the question I posed above, in my response to J F Smith:

    “Yes it could easily have been done. That is all too obvious. The reason, they did not do this, is that they do not want a debate in Parliament. And why would that be?  Think about it.”

  • theroadmaster

    Let me clarify for your confused brain, what I mean’t by my references of Cameron pandering to various groups in society for “populist” reasons and his ill-advised determination to overturn the well-understood concept of marriage.   Populism in a political context, is the promotion of policies which will make those looking to be elected to office “popular” with various ethnicities, religions and social groups in society.  Thus Cameron is trying to win over the “gay” vote by his willingness to legalize same-sex unions as “marriages”, while trying to assuage Christian rancor over this, by offering legalization to allow people of Faith to wear religious symbols in work-places etc.
    We have come a long way from the “backwoods”, in terms of belief, since 2000 years ago , when Christ was incarnated in human form to live, die and rise again to bring us Salvation.  Can that much be said of atheists still maintaining a “bunker mentality”?

  • JByrne24

    What utter, immoderate, rather nasty nonsense.

    I’m sure Jesus would welcome Gay people to the Mass, and I think it an absurdity to suggest otherwise.

  • JByrne24

    “A fantastic post from Mr Oddie”. 

    Yes indeed.

  • Gabriel Austin

     What is a “leading catholic?’. One presumes they are the saints.

  • J F Smith

    I disagree that its “the one and only matter involved”. If there is a legal right to wear religious symbols (this is effectively what is being tested in court) then the dress code in the contract is irrelevant. 

    Imagine this: I own a business and you want to come and work for me. I offer you less than the minimum wage and you accept and sign the contract. I have still broken the law, and am still required to pay you the minimum wage. It doesn’t matter that you signed the contract in full knowledge and were completely happy with the terms – you can still take me to court. And you would definitely win.

    In a nutshell, if part of a contract is illegal (e.g. the dress code), then it is invalid.

  • James

    If David Cameron told me Liverpool wear red shirts, I’d check their website to make sure.

  • JabbaPapa

    I’m not surprised either — “clever” statements “cunningly” disguised with question marks at the end of them do not usually engage the interest…

  • JabbaPapa

    Typically, as whenever you are disagreed with, you have changed your story.

    “the traditional muslim woman” is a strawman — MOST muslim women wear the headscarf because of their own desire to be good muslims. This has been REPEATEDLY demonstrated by statistical studies.

    You have meanwhile introduced the notion of “the ultra-orthodox” as if it supported your rather ridiculous contention — never mind that it is entirely incompatible with your original statement, eh ?

    Your double standards are rather wearying…

  • JabbaPapa

     Homosexuals are not excluded from attending Mass — the issue with the so-called “Soho Masses” is that they create a kind of “special” mass, not for other people.

    The segregation of gays from non-gays is uncatholic ; no matter what the reason for it, except for some reasons of overriding medical necessity.

  • JabbaPapa

     Unless of course that dress-code happens to be provided by a religion, right ?

    Your double standards are ludicrous.

  • Parasum

    “…having given the strong impression that his Government was becoming, in the words of the splendidly named Daily Mail columnist Alexander Boot, “the most aggressively atheistic government in our history”…”

    ## Since there is a distinct lack of atheistic governments in our history, one can’t make statements of the form: “Y is the most Y in history”, unless there is a fair number of Ys with which to compare this Y.

    If, however, the sample is to include governments that were *in effect*, though not *in name or theory*, “aggressively atheistic”, STM this one comes off less badly than some others. For some reason, it is pretty much always people’s own times that are the epitome of badness – perhaps because they are aware of them, in a way they are not aware of a past when as yet they were not born. I don’t think some 18th-century administrations count as very Christian, if we are to be strict in applying standards.

    It is difficult to maintain that Catholics or Jews or Dissenters (say) go in fear for their lives or liberty in Britain today, as once they did. When various religions, & their adherents, are repressed with cruelty in many parts of the world, or their sufferings are ignored by their co-religionists elsewhere, it is very hard to be patient with those who grasp at the martyr’s crown because a government in the West does not indulge them in some way. Those who can think only of their own woes, real or imagined or exaggerated, are not going to be any good at heeding the woes of those who do suffer. Let’s concentrate on the many things for which we should be grateful. People who complain all the time over every setback are not good company – who is attracted to a religion of moaners ?  Discontent is terribly dangerous – it makes Christian joy impossible. And Christian joy is hugely attractive:

    “Cameron, for all his soft words, is still the enemy.” ## If so – what does the Gospel tell the followers of Jesus to do to enemies; & what demeanour are His followers exhorted to have when persecuted ?

  • Nicolas Bellord

    Mr Byrne:  You have repeated yourself again and again about complying with a contract without taking any notice of what people including myself have said in reply.  Flogging a dead horse  comes to mind.

    So I repeat what I said some time ago “De minimis non curat lex”.  The law does not  bother itself with trivialities such as wearing a very small cross as this lady did.  There is however a somewhat wider point about contract law and that has been reflected in Parliament enacting the “Unfair Terms  of Contract Act”.  You say that somebody freely chooses to sign an employment contract.  I wonder just how “free” that choice is.  Perhaps it is the only job available to that person.  The big employer such as BA will have employed a very expensive firm of London solicitors to draw up that contract. Do you imagine that the average employee has the time, expertise or the money to employ a similar firm to vet the contract before he signs it?  It is inherently a system that is open to abuse in favour of the employer.

    Take another example.  Every time you load a new piece of software on to your computer or indeed every time you load an update to a piece of software you will find that usually you are compelled to say that you accept the terms and conditions.  Do you stop and read the endless terms and conditions every time just to make sure that there is not a clause that says you should pay £1,000 to the provider within seven days?  I suspect that most people just click the box saying they have read and accept the conditions without reading them.  In those circumstances do you think a court should enforce such a term?  I would hope that the law of Equity (a Christian adjunct to our Common Law) would intervene to relieve you from such a term.

    I would hope that common-sense, decency and fair play would intervene.  Do you not agree with such ideas?

  • JabbaPapa

     Aaaaaaand just to hammer the nail completely in, some statistics gleaned from this morning’s ordinary local paper.

    As you know, France has made it ilegal to wear the full islamic face mask in public.

    In the year since this law was put into effect, of 374 cases examined, 300 fines have been handed out.

    88% concerned women of French nationality.

    But here’s the interesting statistic :

    67% of those women fined were either divorced or single.

    It is therefore statistically impossible that most of these women fined have been wearing this attire for reasons of coercion.

  • playup27

    We must remember that the Catholic Church in Scotland has had to be more on the Left Foot(pardon the pun) than the Catholic Church in England and Wales hence the reason for Cardinal O’Brians more aggresive  reaction to the ‘same sex ‘ issue , which in no way was disrespectful although as Archbishop Nicholas stated he ‘would not have used the word ‘grotesque’.Many English Catholics fail to realise the differance in temperment ‘North of the Border’ both in Politics and Religion and the Tories have not tuned into this wavelength  for some time: since Thatchers disastrous Poll Tax there for which forgiveness will not come any time soon.There are more Panda’s in Scotland than Tory MP’s ;surely it behoves Cameron to bury the hatchet with the  Cardinal who basically only proclaims  Benedict XV1 : religion is not a problem to be solved( by subtefuge) .Why therefore make it one?Cameron has cold shouldered  Cardinal O’Brian long enough and this problem has never been of the Cardinals making(when did Cameron ever meet the Cardinal -if ever!)

  • JByrne24

    But I simply agreed with J F Smith and then asked a question.
    The question was just that: A QUESTION!  Nothing “clever” at all.
    There must have been a REASON why the government’s e-petitions system was not used. After all it’s quite true that, if it were so used, they could have forced a debate in parliament.

    I understand very well why this was not done. Do you?