Christina Patterson doesn’t share Tony Blair’s affection for injecting “faith” into politics.
You might think that someone who doesn’t believe in a theory
accepted by almost every scientist for more than a century, and who wants to
restrict the rights of half the population to make decisions about their own
body, and thinks that every human being in the world who doesn’t “accept Jesus
as their saviour” will literally go to hell, would have US voters rolling their
eyes. But it doesn’t. You can’t, in fact, even think of running for office in
the world’s only superpower if you don’t, in the now famous words of Alastair
Campbell, “do God”.
Bad combination – superpower, and must do god. Even worse combination, world’s only superpower and must do god. Horrendous combination, world’s only superpower and must do crazy dominionist or Reformed Whateveritis Barking Mad god.
Here, thank God, Allah, or Big Brother, you can. Here, if you start talking about Jesus, or hell, or hurricanes as warnings from God, you’re more likely to make it into a jungle with Sally Bercow than the Pillared Room at Downing Street. Here, if you start talking about the “inerrancy” of the Bible, or “intelligent design”, you’re likely to trigger some serious concern. Even Tony Blair, who was the nearest we got to a Messiah for a while, didn’t, at least when he was elected, and for quite a while afterwards, talk about God. “It’s difficult if you talk about faith in our political system,” he said in a TV interview after leaving office. “Frankly, people do think you’re a nutter.”
And then you leave office and start doing god with a vengeance and people realize you’re a nutter.
In this country, if you’re in public life, you can’t talk about God, but you can talk about “faith groups”. Faith groups are what Tony Blair was thinking of when he started his Tony Blair Faith Foundation. “I set it up,” said the man who helped to start a war that killed more than 100,000 people, “to make the case for religion as a force for good”. Faith groups, according to this view, are nice groups of nice people all wanting to make society better. They are not groups of people who think that people who don’t go to their church, or mosque, or synagogue, or teenage girls who get pregnant, and don’t feel ready to start a family, or people who are sexually attracted to their own sex, will rot in hell.
Which is why that view is so stupid and so wrong.
Women have fought hard for the right not to have their bodies controlled by
somebody else’s God, and so have lesbians and gay men. It’s beginning to look as though we might need to start fighting again.
Without any help from “faith groups.”