Politics is a 'natural' place for Christians

Posted by Sam Hailes  ·  Be the first to comment

David Burrowes was elected the MP for Enfield, Southgate in North London in 2005. 

He was the Shadow Justice Secretary between 2007 and 2010 and currently assists Oliver Letwin in developing policy on drug and alcohol related issues.

David founded the Christian Conservative Fellowship in 1999 and is a keen supporter of Conservative Friends of Israel. He has also supported the Global Day of Prayer and raised many Christian issues in parliament.

1. How did you get into politics?

I had a growing interest in politics while studying it at school. When I saw things that were unfair, I wanted to speak up. I wanted to serve my community. I realised politics is God’s business and there needs to be people of God involved in it. If I wasn’t involved that space would be given to those who weren’t wanting to serve Him and put forward his values.

2. How did you become a Christian?

I grew up in an Anglican church in Cockfosters and was privileged to always know God’s love through my parents who were Christians. I came to a personal relationship with my Lord and Saviour at the age of 13 and faith developed from there.

3. What issues are you passionate about?

My background is as a criminal defense solicitor and I spent a lot of my time in the criminal justice system with people who were addicted to alcohol and drugs. I want to do something to stop that cycle of addiction, drugs and crime. I’ve been very involved with the Centre For Social Justice, Iain Duncan Smith and now in government with wanting to restore relationships and enable people to be drug free.

I’ve been involved with Oliver Letwin to drive a new approach to public services involving payment by results – paying organisations for the results of recovery rather than just getting people into treatment.

The stem cells in umbilical cord blood are life-saving for Leukemia patients, but 95% of cord blood is thrown away. Those stem cells can provide treatments in an ethical way that embryo based research does not. I’ve been supporting that move and the government seem to be investing more in that now.

The other issue is the proposal concerning redefining marriage and making it accessible to same sex couples. That’s something which is of profound concern to Christians who uphold the value and institution of marriage as the union between a man and a women which our country has historically recognised.

4. Why did you set up the Conservative Christian Fellowship?

Myself and Tim Montgomery were both students in Exeter and went along to a number of discussions and conferences about the relationship between Christianity and politics. We realised there wasn’t any network to support Christians in the world of politics. It can be an isolating and lonely place. We recognised the need to have a fellowship to support those Christians in the Conservative party.  

We went to the party conference in Blackpool 21 years ago and started a prayer breakfast. It has gone on from there. It’s one of the most dynamic and thriving organisations in the party.

5. Is it difficult to be both a Conservative and a Christian?

The world of politics is full of tensions and issues. There are always times when certain compromises and negotiations will have to be made.

I’ve never thought that Christians should have an idealistic desire that leads to a Christian political party. I think we’re called to be involved in the world and different political parties, making our contribution.

There are very authentic reasons for being a Christian within the conservative party. Historically Wilberforce, Salisbury and others have been. There’s an ongoing, serious and important contribution that Christians have made, which have directly influenced party policy. 

6. Do you think there needs to be more Christian MPs, or are Christians well represented in parliament?

There’s never too few Christian MPs, there’s always a need for more. You only have to go to House of Commons and Central Lobby to see it’s a natural place for Christians to be. In the centre of the lobby, inscribed in Latin is Psalm 127:1 which is: 'Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders work in vain’.

Recently we’ve conducted an enquiry called Clearing the Ground which has tried to get to the bottom of concerns about whether Christians are marginalised or persecuted in this country. That’s a good example of Christians working across political parties.

7. Do you think the UK should still be described as a Christian country?

We have moved to a point where parliament no longer passes a motion which calls for a day of fasting and prayer, although some might argue there’s a call for it now. We have to accept the fact there is greater diversity in people’s views but there’s still an incredibly healthy respect for Christians and there is space in the public square of parliament for Christians to voice their views. We are a largely secular society, but we shouldn’t shy away from our Christian heritage.

8. Were you disappointed when David Cameron ignored your question about supporting the Global Day of Prayer, when you raised it during Prime Minister’s Questions?

The context is Prime Minister’s Questions is a bit of a bear pit and sometimes it’s remarkable he’s able to answer any question properly given the noise and quickness of thought that is needed. I was hoping for a more comprehensive reply, one that I did actually get in writing afterwards when I followed it up. He was able to express his support for the Day of Prayer.

What I wasn’t surprised about was some people met my question with a bit of derision and cynicism. The times we live in and the challenges financially and socially do call for humility in MPs, which can be in short supply. In the Members Lobby, again in Latin, the words, “fear God, not men” are inscribed. That’s something that has eternal value and modern day value in 2012. 

9. What’s the best Christian book you’ve read?

How Now Shall We Live? by Chuck Colson is a fantastic book which helps develop a Christian worldview to issues, and grounds people in how to respond to the many challenges in the world.

10. What has God been teaching you recently?

The words [Jesus] uttered on the cross are so profound and talk of love and forgiveness. We all need to respect that and show it in our lives, our words and our deeds.

23rd March

March 23rd, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes

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