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Monday, January 2, 2012

Margaret Thatcher: Religious conviction

(Margaret Thatcher in 1975)
When Margaret Thatcher assumed leadership of the Conservative Party, she announced that hers was a politics of conviction rather than of consensus.  She might as well have specified “religious conviction” for it was her religious beliefs that often determined her political ones.

Wikipedia reports that Thatcher’s “devout Methodist” background (her father was a Methodist local preacher who raised his daughter according to strict religious principles) greatly influenced her political ideology. reports that during the 1979 election, Thatcher campaigned against Socialist Prime Minister James Callaghan with these words:  The Old Testament prophets did not say ‘Brothers, I want a consensus.’ 
They said, ‘This is my faith; this is what I passionately believe; if you believe it too, then come with me.  

During a 1978 “exclusive interview” with Richard Dowden of the Catholic Herald, Thatcher revealed the religious nature of her political conviction quite clearly.  According to Dowden, Thatcher’s “defence of the individual against the State is in her eyes founded on a Christian concept of man.”  In Thatcher’s own words: 
The basis of democracy is morality, not majority voting.  It is the belief that the majority of people are good and decent and that there are moral standards which come not from the State but from elsewhere.

After researching “previously unseen sermon notes” of Thatcher’s father, as well as “the text of three religious
sermons Thatcher delivered during her political career and numerous interviews she gave speaking on her
faith” – Antonio Weiss wrote a paper titled The Religious Mind of Mrs Thatcher.  In this paper, Weiss contends that “Thatcher was a deeply religious politican” and that she had “a genuine belief in social justice, derived from her religious convictions.”  In this same June 2011 paper, Weiss concludes that “historians have been far too willing to accept” that religion no longer matters “in either politics or society.”


Copyright January 2, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved 

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