Duncan Smith: Christians in authority face a tough time

Christians in public office are made to feel as though they must apologise for their faith, Iain Duncan Smith has said.

The former Conservative Party leader drew attention to “a tendency to sneer at religion in the governing classes in this country”.

Mr Duncan Smith now heads the influential think-tank the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ).

Mr Duncan Smith was speaking to The Times newspaper about a range of topics including the importance of marriage.

He commented: “We have to encourage stability. You want two people to look after their kids, the evidence shows that if they’re not married they are far less likely to stay together when they have children.”

In July Mr Duncan Smith’s think-tank recommended tax breaks for married couples and new policies to encourage marriage over cohabitation.

The Conservative Party has since said it will recognise marriage in some way in the tax system. It also says civil partnerships will be included in the tax plans.

In recent months other political figures have spoken out about religion in 21st century Britain.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Gordon Brown admitted that Christian engagement in politics is beneficial for building a better society.

Mr Brown said the public square was more than just a market place and that it could not be stripped of values.

“I don’t subscribe to the view that religion should somehow be tolerated but not encouraged in public life, that you can somehow ask people to leave their faith at the door when they enter a town hall or a Commons chamber,” he said.

In November Conservative Party leader David Cameron spoke to the London Evening Standard about his personal faith.

He said that he has faith in God and that the Church of England and other churches “play a very important role in society”.

However, Mr Cameron clarified that his faith “grows hotter and colder by moments”, that he does not feel he has a “direct line” to God, and that he does not drop to his knees and pray for guidance.

He also said he believes it is “perfectly possible” to live a good life without having faith, adding that the teachings of Jesus and of other religions are “a good guide to help us through”.

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