Commenting about the news that Catholic Archbishop Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor may be appointed to the House of Lords, Ekklesia’s co-director Jonathan Bartley said:
“Many churches including the Church of England, as well as other religions, have defended the right of 26 (male) bishops to sit in the Second Chamber, arguing that it gives religion a place in public life that it wouldn’t otherwise have. The appointment of the Cardinal, who would sit alongside other church leaders and religious figures who have been appointed through other mechanisms besides Establishment, shows quite how empty such an argument is.
“The Cardinal would add to the more than proportionate number of parliamentarians who profess a religious faith, when compared to the population of Britain. Previous analysis by Ekklesia has shown that the number of MPs who are members of the Conservative Christian Fellowship, the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum, and the Christian Socialist Movement make up between 15-20% of the House. This number includes numerous Members who list active participation in church activities in their biographies, but is far more than the church-going population.
“The simple fact that so many Parliamentarians have a religious faith that amounts to far more than a cultural veneer, and that this number is being added to, clearly calls into question the claims by some Bishops and Church leaders that Christianity is being marginalised in public life.”