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Saturday, 20 September 2008

And the word was God

It would be an interesting exercise, in this season of party conferences in the UK, to tally up how many references to God there are in the major speeches.

Some research by a think tank called Theos reckons such references are on the rise. The ever-helpful Ekklesia tells us:

The research, released to coincide with the start of the major party conferences, examines the use of "God talk" in the speeches of party leaders over the last decade (1998–2007). It covers the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaders, but does not include the Greens or other smaller parties.

The greatest number of religious references, claims the research, occurred in 2001 when each of the speeches was delivered within weeks of the 9/11 attacks. Since 2001, however, there has been a continued rise in the use of religious rhetoric.

It won't surprise anyone that God-soaked Tony Blair has helped to raise the overall figure. You can read the breakdown at the Ekklesia website linked to above, but one sentence struck me, and it comes from the director of Theos, Paul Woolley, who says, "The increase in references to religious faith reflects an increased awareness of, and interest in, religious groups in our society."

Which is something we can hardly avoid, with a government so hell-bent on opening up ever more religiously segregated schools and pandering and kowtowing to "faith groups".

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