David Cameron last night called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to lead a return to the ‘moral code’ of the Bible.
In a highly personal speech about faith, the Prime Minister accused Dr Rowan Williams of failing to speak ‘to the whole nation’ when he criticised Government austerity policies and expressed sympathy with the summer rioters.
Mr Cameron declared Britain ‘a Christian country’ and said politicians and churchmen should not be afraid to say so.
He warned that a failure to ‘stand up and defend’ the values and morals taught by the Bible helped spark the riots and fuelled terrorism.
At Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, where Dr Williams used to teach, Mr Cameron said the time has come for public figures to teach ‘right from wrong’, and questioned whether the Church of England has done enough to defend those values in the face of the ‘moral neutrality’ that pervades modern life.
And taking aim at the Archbishop, Mr Cameron tackled head-on his public criticisms of the Government over the last 12 months.
The speech was a bold Christmas gamble by Mr Cameron. In making a speech about religion, he did something that Tony Blair always longed to do but was talked out of by spin doctor Alastair Campbell, who flatly told him: ‘We don’t do God.’
The clash between the Government and Church is at its most acute since former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Robert Runcie clashed with Margaret Thatcher’s government in the 1980s.The Prime Minister appeared emboldened by his opinion poll bounce since his decision to wield the veto during the Eurozone crisis summit in Brussels last week.