Nick Clegg, a self confessed atheist, has claimed that Christian values are “central” to his policies in an article for a leading church newspaper.
However, a Daily Telegraph report of the article, headlined ‘Atheist Nick Clegg discovers religion in time for polling day’, appears to cast doubt on Mr Clegg’s sincerity.
Mr Clegg’s comments, which were penned for an article in the Church of England Newspaper, will be seen by many as an appeal for the Christian vote.
Speaking about the importance of fairness, Mr Clegg writes: “It’s based on simple principles: regard for each other, help for those who need it most, and an obligation on those with the broadest shoulders to bear the greatest burdens. These are all values central to Christianity, and to Liberal Democrat politics.”
The Lib Dem leader, who is married to a Roman Catholic, also declared his support for some Christian groups.
He said: “We are proud to support specific campaigns organised by Christian groups such as Strangers into Citizens and the Sanctuary Campaign.”
And despite voting for abortions to be allowed for the first 6 months of a pregnancy in 2008, Mr Clegg implied that his party could help pro-lifers.
He said: “On ‘conscience’ issues like abortion and stem cell research, where no party has a united view, it will be possible for every elector to have their say about these questions by supporting candidates who share their views”.
Just after assuming leadership of the Lib Dem’s in December 2007 Mr Clegg was asked if he believed in God, to which he replied: “No.”
And Mr Clegg’s pitch for the religious vote took a blow earlier today after a Senior Roman Catholic bishop lambasted the Lib Dem manifesto.
The party’s manifesto commits the Liberal Democrats to making church schools take children from families that may not support a school’s ethos.
Rt Revd Malcolm McMahon, the chairman of the Department for Education of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: “Catholics should give it very serious consideration before they vote Liberal Democrat”.
Mr Clegg has previously called for all church schools to be forced to teach that homosexuality is “normal and harmless”.
And the Liberal Democrat Schools minister David Laws has said it is unacceptable for faith schools to teach their religious belief that homosexuality is morally wrong.