Monday, December 24, 2007

Nick Clegg still gets wide coverage for a one word answer: "No"

A Guardian leader today does a tour d'horizon of politics and religion, mentioning US presidential candidate Mike HUckabee, Tony Blair, Ruth Kelly and Nick Clegg:

What is true of belief is equally true of its absence. On Wednesday Mr Clegg faced a series of quick-fire questions on the radio. One was "do you believe in God?", and he responded with an admirably straightforward "no". His frankness must have caused alarm among his aides, since he later put out a statement stressing the Christianity of others in his family and insisting he did not have a "closed heart" on religious matters. It is to Mr Clegg's credit that he did not backtrack, but it is worrying that he felt pressed to say anything further at all.

After all, his lack of faith puts him in the majority. While the fuss yesterday was over Catholics overtaking Anglicans in church attendance, most Britons have no faith at all. A Guardian poll a year ago found that non-believers outnumbered believers by two to one, and that more thought religion caused harm than judged it a force for good. The Church of England does not directly demand piety from politicians - the Archbishop of Canterbury responded to Mr Clegg's words by saying that what counts is sincerity.

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