Theo Hobson

A careful believer

A careful believer
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Is David Cameron religious? In the course of his interview with the Evening Standard he provides a clear glimpse of his attitude to religion. He sees it as something that should be advocated with the utmost care, if votes are not to be squandered.

He is asked if faith in God is important to him. "If you are asking, do I drop to my knees and pray for guidance, no. But do I have faith and is it important, yes. My own faith is there, it's not always the rock that perhaps it should be.”

Hmmm. Surely praying for God’s guidance is a basic part of Christian faith, and nothing to be ashamed of. He is trying hard to sound pro-God but not in a Blair-like way. And by saying that his faith is ‘not always the rock that perhaps it should be’ he is trying hard to sound calmly and self-critically religious. I recall him using a very similar phrase a few years ago, when asked how keen a churchgoer he was: he said he didn’t go as often as perhaps he should. And I remember thinking: if you feel you should go more, then why don’t you? It sounded like an attempt at having both ways: I’m a believer, but just a gentle agnostic one.

And he continues in this vein by identifying with the C of E: "I've a sort of fairly classic Church of England faith, a faith that grows hotter and colder by moments but...I suppose I sort of started life believing that one's individual faith was important, but actually the institutions of the church were less important. I do think that organised religion can get things wrong but the Church of England and the other churches do play a very important role in society."

Again: my Christian faith is in some ways more like agnosticism: don’t worry. Still he goes on: "I was a good, sceptical, questioning Christian when I was younger. I liked to think it through, thinking am I really sure about this? But I don't feel I have a direct line [to God]. I think that it's perfectly possible to live a good life without having faith, by which I mean a positive and altruistic life, but I think the teachings of Jesus just as the teachings of other religions are a good guide to help us through.”

He position on religion is very clear: he is determined to seem pro-God but not in a way that will cost him votes.