The furore surrounding the British prime minister David Cameron’s comments relating to the UK’s apparent ‘Christianity’ may seem like much ado about nothing, but some predict the repercussions could be felt long enough to run into the campaigning due to begin in earnest for next year’s general election.
The general consensus seems to be that Cameron is at risk of alienating the very society segments that may hold his future in their hands come May 2015. By constantly attempting to refer to Britain as a Christian country and suggesting they should be more confident about portraying that, Cameron has served to invite a backlash from prominent media figures in the country.
In an open letter to British newspaper the Daily Telegraph, performers, authors, journalists and philosophers have offered their point of view. While the group claim to respect the PM’s right to have his own religious beliefs, they object to ’the negative consequences’ that this point of view may bring the country from both a political and a social stand point.
While it is now widely accepted that religion plays a less significant role in the lives of the majority of the population, over 50% of British nationals classed themselves as Christian in the 2011 census. However with such a large number of multi-faith communities throughout the country, the idea that Britain remains a Christian nation seems to be regarded amongst most as a really rather outdated idea.
Whether or not this move was made in an attempt to gain political credibility in the eyes of some, remains to be seen. UKIP have certainly been creating waves recently and many of their primary notions relate to traditionalism, perhaps Cameron has decided to try to exhibit some of his own traditionalist views.
However with a YouGov poll recently revealing that 65% of the population view themselves as ‘not religious’, it seems that perhaps the entire story is more of a storm in a tea cup that will have little or no impact moving forward.
As a country, Britain has built its reputation on being a haven for those with different ideas – be it religious or other – and as a place where opinions can be expressed without fear of recrimination (within the boundaries of good taste). And while it is also generally acknowledged that a person’s religion should be kept between them and their God, Cameron is unlikely to find that his conviction to his faith and his belief that the UK still holds Christianity in high regard, will have a long term effect on his re-election chances.