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经济学人:政客与宗教 造神风波

Politicians and religion

Doing God
David Cameron's frank Christian talk is more astute than the reaction to it suggests
卡梅伦坦率的复活节讲话与其说是对民众的反应有所企图, 不如说是诡计多端
FEW Britons have well-defined religious beliefs, but many have tastes in matters of religion. As with tea, they don't like it too cold or too hot. They seem to want the established religion to be present somewhere in the background, with its village churches, Christmas carols and Remembrance Day services, and they would hate it to vanish altogether; but they would squirm if anyone asked them to accept Jesus as their personal saviour.

It is that sentiment that David Cameron and other senior Tories seemed to be invoking when they marked the Easter season with some firmly (but not too firmly) Christian messages. Having declared at an Easter reception that he was “proud of the fact that we are a Christian country”, the prime minister took to the Church Times, an Anglican weekly, to spell out what he did not mean. He described himself as a “rather classic” member of the Church of England, “not that regular in attendance and a bit vague on some of the more difficult parts of the faith”. Still, he loved old country churches, like the one his parents had laboured to restore, and welcomed the church's role as a moral and pastoral force.

These words, plus a short Easter broadcast noting how “incredibly special” the feast was for many people, have drawn loud complaints from secularists. Dominic Grieve, the attorney-general and an Anglican, defended his boss's views—and was barracked in turn. More than 40 Anglican bishops and 600 clergy issued an implicit rebuke in the form of a letter urging Mr Cameron to focus on food poverty. Keith Hebden, a clergyman, said that the police had prevented him and the bishop of Oxford from delivering a copy to Mr Cameron's constituency office, in an area where lovely old churches abound.
Yet Mr Cameron's appeal to warm and fuzzy Anglicanism is politically astute. A recent survey by Theos, a religious think-tank, showed a clear link between being Anglican—practising or otherwise—and voting Conservative. Such voters are Mr Cameron's to lose, and he may lose many of them to the anti-Brussels UK Independence Party if it presses the button of cultural nativism more successfully.
And as Jonathan Bartley, founder of a more liberal religion-watching outfit called Ekklesia, points out, the proportion of Britons (59%) who call themselves Christian on a census form exceeds by a factor of at least ten the number of regular churchgoers. That implies a large constituency of cultural Christians who are not militant secularists but have no more appetite for “difficult parts of the faith” than Mr Cameron does.
正如自由宗教组织Ekklesia创始人乔纳森·巴特利指出的那样,在人口普查中声称自己是基督徒的人口(高达总人口的59%)超过了定期去做礼拜的人数的十倍。这意味着大多数选区的基督徒并非激进的世俗论者,而是比卡梅伦对那些“较难认同的宗教信仰” 更难接受的人。
For evidence of the continuing role of religion in politics look, too, at Mr Cameron's main rivals. Ed Miliband, Labour's leader, is an atheist who nonetheless aspires to be “the first Jewish prime minister”. Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, is an atheist too, but he points out that his wife and children are Catholic. Fervent secularism is no more appealing to most Britons than its opposite.



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