I remember when Tony Blair and his aides were preparing his TV speech to the nation back in 2003 announcing the invasion of Iraq. The Prime Minister wanted to end his pretty shattering announcement with a simple "God Bless." His aides were horrified. "We don't do God" said one. And that man was one hundred percent right.
Blair kept a low profile on his Christian beliefs while in power and if he hadn't, he would have been out of Number Ten Downing Street and thrown into the River Thames. We don't mix religion and Politics here. We used to, mind. Back in the 1700s, the Church, the Monarchy and the Government walked hand in hand. And woe betide anyone who got in the way of one, because in doing so, you'd offend all three.
Which is what I always thought you lot across the pond struggled to get away from. Wasn't that one of the main reasons your founding fathers left the mother country to create the land of the free? To rid themselves from the shackles of organized religion. And yet, as you prepare to celebrate the last Christmas of the Bush Presidency, here you are with a bunch of candidates fairly tripping over themselves to be the loudest and proudest to boast their loyalty to God.
Hillary suddenly claims that she would never have got through her marital difficulties without help from above. Mind you, that was after she discovered that Barack was once a church activist in Chicago. Of course, we all know that Mike is a Baptist preacher and Mitt is a Mormon. John says he sins every day -- I know the feeling, John. And even Rudy, while he's moderating his politics over abortion and gay rights to fit in a little more with the Church, can at least claim to be pro marriage, having been to the altar three times.
From this perspective, any candidate who dares to stand up on Christmas Day and say "actually, you know what, I'm an agnostic" wouldn't have a cat's chance of reaching the Oval Office. Which is ironic, isn't it? Your ancestors ran away from England to set up a society where the church couldn't tell them how to live their lives.
And yet God doesn't have a say in English politics today. Whereas in America, he's now got the casting vote. Happy Christmas.
by Simon Bates
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