‘Freedom of religion should be a cornerstone of the West’

A national newspaper columnist has criticised Britain’s increasingly secular society which “seems indifferent” to almost 200,000 abortions every year but “can’t find room for faith schools”.

Tim Montgomerie, writing in The Times, said while Britain and America are moving away from their Christian heritage, “they don’t need to become anti-Christian societies”.

The columnist, who co-founded the Centre for Social Justice think-tank, also said there should be less “vacuous talk” on issues around ‘British values’.

Power of forgiveness

He said there were signs of a ‘drift towards’ an anti-Christian society in the “mounting campaign to close all faith schools” and in the concerns expressed by a US Supreme Court judge about the recent same-sex marriage ruling.

Commenting on the transforming power of Christianity, Montgomerie pointed to John Newton, the former slave trader.

“Few people in history can have had a greater appreciation of the power of God’s forgiveness than John Newton, who wrote Amazing Grace”.

William Wilberforce

Newton wrote the hymn more than 200 years ago, after coming to Christ and repenting of his appalling treatment of his fellow human beings.

Montgomerie also noted that Newton was crucial in encouraging William Wilberforce – who went on to lead the fight in Parliament to end the slave trade – not to leave politics after becoming a Christian.

Quote Tim Montgomerie

He asked whether the “new secular majority” would engage with religion or be hostile to it and continued: “I want less vacuous talk of fairness, tolerance and generosity from our politicians.

“Let’s start getting specific about what we mean by ‘British values’. Freedom of religion should be a cornerstone of western belief and it must stand as a contrast to the many Islamic states where apostasy is punishable by death.


“Do we really want to be a society that seems indifferent to 200,000 abortions every year but can’t find room for faith schools?

“Or a popular culture that celebrates getting blind drunk on the weekend but wants to compel a church charity to employ non-believers?”

Criticising society’s “moral priorities”, he concluded that a “lot more” ‘Amazing Grace’ was needed.

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