Skip to main content

Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, has today published the latest edition of its magazine Centre Write, entitled “Staying faithful?”, with contributions from Sir Roger Scruton, Nicky Morgan MP, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Tim Farron MP, and many more.

The magazine explores the role of religion in modern society, and how Christianity has contributed to English identity and helped provide the foundations for liberal society.

In his article for Centre Write, Ryan Shorthouse, Director of Bright Blue, argues:

“The Church has had a long and unique place in this country’s fabric since the Elizabethan period: present, yes – in educational, community, cultural and public life – but never omnipresent.”

“Indeed, Christianity heavily shaped the canon of liberal thinking that so influenced European and American politics from the Enlightenment, despite the fashionable assumption that Christianity and liberalism have been from the start in conflict.”

“Religious thinking should and does have a place in liberal society, then. And we need not follow in the footsteps of the French, consigning faith to the private realm alone.”

“Religion can and should inspire, both in public and in private, but it must not govern. In liberal democracies, secular law should be supreme. Indeed, only then can religious plurality survive.”

The magazine includes an interview with the conservative philosopher Sir Roger Scruton who highlights the importance of Anglicanism to English culture, praises Church of England schools, and gives his support to Jacob Rees-Mogg MP as a future leader of the Conservative Party.

In conversation with Centre Write, Scruton said:

“Of course with religious observance on the decline these things are changing, but the culture we’ve inherited is an Anglican one…The English people are distinguished by the fact they have no religious belief and haven’t had any religious belief for years, but they retain a kind of Christ-like attitude to each other – that they are guilty of all kinds of eccentric qualities that come to them from the Christian faith, even though they are not in the business of affirming that faith.”

“A faith school can be used to fill in what is missing from the national curriculum by a way of spiritual content, which is what a Church of England school is supposed to do…There was never an attempt to say that you didn’t belong to this materialist, horrible society all around you.”

Sir Roger Scruton made clear his support for Jacob Rees-Mogg as a future Conservative Party leader, saying:

“I wish he were Leader of the Conservative Party. And I think he might be. He has a lot of young people on his side. What people like in him is his correctness and old-fashioned, polite, gentlemanly qualities and the clear and articulate way in which he expresses ideas.”

Writing for Centre Write, Tim Farron MP, former Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said:

“The reality of faith is that it is not a private world view, but one that inspires action… This is what liberals often find hard to stomach. But it has been largely forgotten that many of the values held by today’s liberal secular society are built upon Christian foundations.

“The Biblical narrative centres on the idea that we are all created in the image of God, and that Christ died for each one of us. This powerful belief confers on every individual an innate worth. It carries with it the fundamental requirement to treat others with respect and dignity, no matter who they are. This is a truly ‘lofty equality’ on which the secular liberal concept of human rights is based.”

Explaining his new role as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, a Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the UN, writes:

“In some cases states are going further than that and are actively trampling on their citizens’ rights. As we look around the world today, this is the reality for: Rohingya Muslims in Burma’s Rakhine state; Baha’is in Iran; Christians and Uighurs in China; and Jehovah’s Witnesses in Russia. In Saudi Arabia, non-Muslim religions are banned and the death penalty is imposed for apostasy. While in Pakistan, blasphemy laws are used to intimidate atheists, Christians and other minorities, and we have seen the state turning a blind eye to attacks on Christian minorities and the Ahmadi Muslims. All are being failed by their respective governments, the very people whose responsibility it is to protect them.”

“We spend millions of pounds every year on grassroots projects around the world to counter hate speech, to promote tolerance and understanding of minorities, and ultimately build mutual respect between communities. I am therefore proud of the role our Government is playing in standing up for persecuted minorities.”

Speaking about the Conservative Party, the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP said:

“My time as an MP has taught me that most issues and problems aren’t black and white, meaning they don’t need black and white, or ideological, answers. As a liberal conservative, I don’t think ideological or radical solutions reflect how people live their lives or what they want from their politicians.”

“The liberal wing of the Conservative Party deals with the world as it is – a fundamental strength of the Conservatives and a key reason for our success over decades. We aren’t interested in using our fellow citizens as experiments in grand schemes.”

This edition of Bright Blue’s Centre Write magazine also includes contributions from Nick Spencer (Senior Fellow, Theos), Stephen Pollard (Editor, The Jewish Chronicle), Paul Goodman (Editor, ConservativeHome), and Rev Mike Long (Superintendent minister of the Notting Hill Methodist Circuit).