Friday, 19 September 2008

THE RISE OF RELIGION AT BRITISH PARTY CONFERENCES

‘God talk’ is a rising phenomenon in the annual conference speeches of Britain’s party political leaders, a new survey shows. While religious beliefs play a much smaller part in UK electioneering than in the USA, an analysis by the Theos think tank reveals a steady rise in religious references over the last decade. Researchers found that Labour leaders led the way, making 98 religious references, compared with 65 for the Conservatives and 23 for the Liberal Democrats.

Last year, while referring to ‘the sermons my father preached’, Gordon Brown made 14 religious references while rallying the party faithful. Theos director Paul Woolley said the increase reflects an awareness that ‘Faith groups represent a growing constituency in society’. However, ‘Talking God is not the same as “doing God”’ in terms of ‘governing with justice and mercy,’ he said.

Sources: The Times (14/9); Church Times (19/9)

2 comments:

Methodist Preacher said...

Interesting stuff Olive. I remember attending a Labour Party selection in the 1970s and the regional organiser asking me to make up my mind - "Do you want to be a Member of Parliament or an Old Testament Prophet?".

I don't know much about the spirituality of the Tory and Lib Dem parties but I do know that the Labour party has always had a religious element, often specifically Christian.

For example each conference starts with an act of worship at a nearby local church, normally attended by the leader (even Neil Kinnock an atheist). The Christian Socialist Movement always organise at least once fringe event and way back in the mid eighties - at my suggestion - we launched a morning prayer meeting throughout the conference week.

Olive Morgan said...

Thanks, Dave. I don't know what happens at the Conservative and Lib Deb Conferences i this regard, so it will be interesting to hear/read what our President and Vice-President have to report after they have visited all three conferences.