The Conservatives and religion

By Press Office
April 13, 2010

Commenting on the absence of religion and belief in the Conservative manifesto, Jonathan Bartley, co-director of the religion and society thinktank Ekklesia, said:

"There seems to be a big God-shaped hole in the Conservative manifesto. Churches and other religious groups don't seem to have been extended an 'invitation to the government of Britain' for 'all'. They will now raise serious questions about what seems like empty rhetoric from David Cameron over the importance of faith. The Tory vision of the Big Society does not seem large enough to take account of the work of religious groups - at least by name.

"In particular there seems to be uncertainty and confusion about where the party stands on faith schools. There have been mixed messages which the churches and others will now want to clarify urgently. There may be nervousness about how faith groups will react. But if the Conservatives are proposing that faith can be a basis for new schools, but that these schools should not be able to discriminate in admissions and employment, that is a step in the right direction. However their plans should be clear so churches and others know where they stand on election day."

[Ekklesia has long argued that religious people and communities have an important role to play in the public sphere and in politics - but it has critiqued the 'top down', domineering approach of some in the churches, has backed a full embracing of equalities by Christians and others, has helped initiate a coalition to end religious discrimination in faith schools, and has critiqued the way 'God' and 'institutional religion' have been confused and co-opted in the political arena and in some faith communities.]

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