Talking Points 20th March

The Pope and Cameroon's President BiyaDo you want your politicians to “do god”?
When Tony Blair was British Primeminister his press secretary Alastair Campbell famously interrupted an interview with the PM saying “we don’t do God” but now he is in a different political spotlight Tony Blair is writing in the Spectator to say that religion has never been more important in politics.

Do you think it’s important for your politicians to express a faith in God?  This commentator says that it would be hard to get elected in America without expressing a faith, even though a fundamental aspect of the US’s idea of liberty is the separation of church and state. This blogger gives an atheist’s perspective.

The Pope is visiting Angola today on his high-profile tour of Africa. It’s a visit has been hailed as a sign of a peaceful, progressive government – and he’s been greeted by adoring crowds on his recent visit to Cameroon. But this journalist is worried that Cameroon’s President Biya will make too much political capital out of the Pope’s purely pastoral visit. People like the local bishop mentioned here were looking to the pope rather than the government to address his country’s problems:

“There is trouble all over the region … So the Pope needs to address the problem of justice, peace, reconciliation and bringing people together,”
Joseph Ateba, bishop of the port city of Kribi

Do you want more religious overtones from your politicians or less?

G20 anarchist protest poster

We’ve been commenting a lot on the blog recently about the blame and anger that is being targeted at bankers; just yesterday Mark wrote about the US government’s speedy decision to reflect some of that public anger by clawing back 90% of AIG workers bonuses in tax. But is it time to give the bankers a break?

AIG executives are being picketed by their neighbours, are receiving death threats and have guards outside their houses. Even a US senator joined in the strong rhetoric by suggesting AIG chiefs “resign or go commit suicide“. Has scapegoating gone too far?

And it doesn’t show signs of abating – there are worries about financial workers safety in London when the G20 meets here in April, especially because signs saying “Bash the bankers” have been spotted among anarchist groups planning to attend anti-G20 protests, like this blogger.

29 Responses to “Talking Points 20th March”

  1. 1 Rob (UK)
    March 20, 2009 at 12:05

    I don’t mind voting for someone who happens to be religious, but if they publicly discussed or invoked their faith on the campaign trail or while in office I would drop support for them immediately.

    As an atheist I feel that opinions formed from religious belief are inflexible and unsupported by facts – and I want my politicians to be guided by reason and evidence.

  2. 2 gary
    March 20, 2009 at 12:23

    Regarding bankers: We cannot survive without banks; they are the “power grid” of the financial world. The problem in this sector isn’t with banks; but has arisen from a fairly simple miss-application of selection rules for the people who run them. Dynamic individuals drive big business. When asked, “Who is best to lead (the company, the country, the world,),” the usual dynamic, entrepreneurial business person says, “Someone like me.” And so, over the last few decades, the usual, boring guy in a drab business suit has been replaced with someone who looks, thinks, and acts exactly as does her or his customer. However, banks serve the same function as does sandy loam, or break waters, or electrical capacitors. They must automatically resist rapid change. Their principle responsibility isn’t making wealth; but is to make rates of financial change match more closely the (none too swift) dawning of common business sense, so that wealth may be grown. Yep. The banking sector are the good guys; they just need fewer larcenous, dynamic loners and a bunch more anal accountants.

  3. March 20, 2009 at 13:51

    well, the truth is that politicians should keep away from politics. Look at it from this perspective, Jesus the founder of christianity refrained from politics and often times reminded his disciples and the audience with him that his kingdom isnt part of this world (john17:17), so how would then the politican in support of the earthly rulership claim to pay aleigancy to God’s kingdom while his actions are otherwise. Remember that our creator isnt oblivious of our motives and actions cause he can screen as far as the kidneys in our bodies something which only these electronic devices cant even deny. the truth is that we have top make a choice, either we gonna be part of this system or otherwise but there is nothing like both or being at the boarderline with him.
    hope am clear and not so tight with my words. thank you.

  4. March 20, 2009 at 13:56

    The fact is that politics is as dirty as everybody knows and how then would it be mixed with faith? This actually is the foundament fault the Arabs have done and we all know the efects this has come to be to the cost of the last peasant. Safe us please our God, Jehovah cause this spiritual fornication is too gross to stand.

  5. March 20, 2009 at 14:36

    God in a godless world makes more sense than tyranny of Church over State.
    Somewhere along the line there is Intelligent Design: Let it be. The Temples of Egypt and Buddha make the world a better place.

  6. March 20, 2009 at 14:49

    I am really gutted by the Cameroon government trying to make political capital out of everything even the Pope’s visit…

  7. March 20, 2009 at 16:34

    Do I want politicians to ‘do God’? No! I don’t want politics contaminated by religious standpoints: they are many and self-interested. Politics is to do with the science of forming, directing and administrating states. Morality has a place in politics, but morality is not the prerogative of the religious. A humanist or atheist may make just as valuable a contribution to politics as a religious thinker. ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.’

  8. 8 A.R.Shams
    March 20, 2009 at 16:46

    I would never vote a dictatorship attitude-keeping leader who, I know does ‘do God’ activities and ultimately destroys his / her followers including himself / herself.

    Most Mughal emperors besides many others, for example, did so and were ruined themselves and their people as well forever.

  9. 9 Evan
    March 20, 2009 at 17:19

    Please don’t compare George W. Bush’s so-called “faith” to that of Barack Obama. George Bush is a born-again Christian, who only found faith because he needed another addiction to replace his drug habit. Bush’s faith was/is primarily a tool to win votes; I don’t think you could say the same thing about President Obama.

    I don’t think you can make the argument that religion gives anyone the right to claim more or higher morals than people of other faiths, or none at all. It only gives them justification to further their own agenda. Sometimes that agenda is good and worthy, but just as often it is not. You don’t need a god to know right from wrong. And you don’t need a man putting words into (any) god’s mouth to justify their own ends.

  10. 10 geofied
    March 20, 2009 at 17:45

    Religion is a poison to our world today. Instead of bringing people together, it divides them, often irreconcilably so. The other problem with religion in politics is that people of religion inevitably elevate themselves and like-minded believers (often by an edict of their Gods) above all other “non-believers”.

  11. 11 Katja Biesanz
    March 20, 2009 at 17:48

    Faith, informed by the small still voice within, can guide all of us. Dogma, however insists that one path to God is the correct one. This divides humanity. The comfort and certainty of knowing the score can blind one, fixate on a limited description of the Mystery.

    Religion can be dangerous. Flawed people can tap one drop of the power of the Infinite, and distort it. Thus inflated limited human understanding and notions can bring disasters. Bush may have been playing God in this way in saying he was instructed to invade Iraq.

    “By their works ye shall know them.” How does it impact the least of these – including children of you “enemy.”

    We don’t need lip service to religion or manipulation through religion. We need adherence to the rigorous kindness demanded by all religions. That sometimes seems in short supply by the wrathfully pious.

  12. 12 Euphorbia
    March 20, 2009 at 18:09

    If a representative of the theist religions definitely not!

    The Modern Scientific Theory of Evolution (Darwin) shows/proves that The bible is a work of fiction!

    Simply it shows there was No Adam & Eve, therefore No Original Sin, No Fall and No need for God to send his son to redeem us. Game over.

    We have a Pope who is allowing millions to die from Aides, A Jewish State wanting to throw out the original inhabitants and the fundamentalist Muslims wanting to introduce Sharia law!

    No keep faith out of it! Leave the Theist religions out of it!

  13. 13 Alistair Blunt
    March 20, 2009 at 18:29

    This question is in a way ridiculous. How can a person with faith not let the values that underpin their faith not influence their decisions? Not doing so is denying his faith. However, it is important, however, for political leaders to recognize that not all share their faith and one should not impose ones belief on others. Most of the major religions share a common ethic, that we are resposnible for our neighbours and are obliged to do all in our power to help them. So basically religion is tolerent. the important thing is the values in the religion, not the form of the religion.

  14. 14 Assegid
    March 20, 2009 at 18:43

    We have to differentiate between Faith and Relegion. Faith is belief in something. Relegion is the politics of group Faith.
    I would like leaders to have Faith, but not to be relegious.
    Faith builds, Relegion destroys.

  15. March 20, 2009 at 19:01

    these guys are the same – you can’t seperate them..religious leaders lie, politicians also lie. they are always together..like white on rice!

  16. 16 Euphorbia
    March 21, 2009 at 01:35

    Unfortunately BBC only allows ‘bites’ and it is hard to express oneself adequately in 500 characters. I am not an advertising copy writer.

    Living in New Zealand which is off your map, we are an hour earlier than GMT the next day andthat means ‘very early’ when I am not at my best but I felt I had to join in. At that time I sounded a really fundamentalist agnostic!

    I am actuallt rational educated Brit. I just fail to understand how anyone rational could want to be ruled by a fundamentalist theist of any kind. Tony Blair is right, he would not have got elected if UK had thought he might fight a holy war however good it makes him feel. Ditto Mr. Bush.

    The world has gone beyond Bronze age religions with subjugation of women, bloody religious wars and compromised education.

    A secular society is the only answer and secular education for all!

    Hope I sound more rational now!

  17. March 21, 2009 at 07:33

    we must let politicians do their so-called politics whilst making sure that we are letting leaders take up leadership.with leadership,there comes wisdom and Godliness.what we should let politicians know is that they also need positive wisdom when doing their politics but do away with governance….no wonder Africa is last.due to good for nothing politicians.

    (western province).

  18. 18 olawale Amao
    March 21, 2009 at 11:10

    It is always good to express one’s faith.because i don’t think i can vote for anyboby whose faith i don’t know.in nigeria religion and tribe/ region is a deciding factor in politics.

  19. 19 Roberto
    March 21, 2009 at 12:04

    RE “” Regarding bankers: We cannot survive without banks; they are the “power grid” of the financial world. The problem in this sector isn’t with banks “”

    ——————– The problem is with the bankers given legal license by politicians elected by voters to commit criminal fraud on a scale never seen before.

    Of course now that they have skimmed all the cream off the top and replaced it with toxic derivitives, they are appealing to the lawmakers and public to save them and their substantial personal assets.

    Criminals are a dime a dozen. The hundreds of thousands of bankers across the world involved in this securities fraud should be packed into the next outgoing ships of scrap metal and trash to China and other SE Asian ports for a proper dismantling and reuse as these bankers ain’t even worth the cost of a firing squad bullet.

  20. 20 Olatunji busayo
    March 21, 2009 at 21:45

    well doing god by politicians is not a bad thing but it should be a private thing not official. And to think about this, countries whose politicians are not doing god are better for it,a very good example is china

  21. 21 Listener
    March 21, 2009 at 23:28

    “God” word sounds like “Gov.” or maybe the same. Make sure you chose the right “God” is the key.

  22. 22 david
    March 22, 2009 at 08:18

    Put B16 alongside Peter, the man he things he succeeds. Peter didn’t do fancy dress. He had a wife and a mother in law. B 16 surrounds himself with self-perpetuating gerontocrats wherever he goes. The tragic death of the youngsters in Angola in a whipped frehzy is emblematic,

  23. 23 jr
    March 22, 2009 at 08:57

    NO — all these people with their “invisible friend” freak me out.

  24. 24 Ken Taylor
    March 22, 2009 at 10:43

    I expect any person that I vote for to be the kind of man / women that God expects them to be. Boy, are they ever hard to find!

  25. 25 Chris B
    March 22, 2009 at 10:49

    It used to be said that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel – now it often seems to be ‘faith’ in God. The world just needs politicians who have faith in those who elect them, who accept their duty to treat all humans with humanity and who conduct themselves with humility, moderation and high ethical standards. But, I guess that’s all too much to ask?

  26. 26 etyang okoit
    March 22, 2009 at 16:26

    When will you wake up to the reality that you need God in your lives? At least one of the ministers in government has foreseen that a P.M in 30 years time will be from his faith. That is the paifull reality that your children will live with, stand up for the faith that gave BRITAIN the sense of belonging that for centuries conqured the world or perish with it. America has taken over your position as world leaders because you have forsaken your God, while they are not ashamed to profess theirs and are ready to defend what identifies them.

    Okoit Etyang .Malaba-Kenya

  27. 27 Bart Boussemaere
    March 23, 2009 at 16:11

    Religion is a private matter, thus I advocate total seperation between church and state. The problem is not merely there too much god in politics, above all there’s too much politics in religion.

  28. 28 Azad
    March 24, 2009 at 19:11

    I don’t see what the problem is when politicians express their religious beliefs.

    Most of these politicians are active in countries where religion has a great impact on society and political issues in those environments. For example, the United States still has a christian majority. When Barrack Obama talks about God or religion as a whole, he isn’t only talking about his own personal view, but acts as a representation of a large proportion of the population of the U.S. Politicians sometimes use this negatively for publicity or elecion purposes, but religion is still a huge issue in most countries and still has its laws and ethical views based on this.

  29. 29 Damon Johnston
    May 11, 2009 at 13:47

    From the US: Religions, in all its forms (Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc), are the largest threat to human survivability on this planet today. This problem (of believing in, what amounts to, a fairy-tail) is a larger threat than global-climate change, larger than all of our previous world wars combined, and if left un-checked could be the demise of all of human civilization. People should have hope and optimism, in their own ability to create a better world; but not in supernatural, un-provable and destructive ideas. Think about it? Religion is responsible for more “wrong” acts, human deaths, and overall justifications for the most horrific historical “crimes against humanity”. And when you know as well as I that it was all made up…by people… Look I am not saying that people should not lead a moral life, or that people in a society do not need a set of “moral rules” for living in a society. We need to understand how are actions (including words) impact/effect our fellow citizens and do our best not to infringe upon their rights to life, liberty and whatever makes them happy—this is directly proportional to each of our personal freedom. All we have is each other!!!!!!!!!

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