Iain Duncan Smith: "Surely that's a sin"
And all Hell has broken loose.
Can His Grace say that, or does that term also belie the secular narrative?
According to The Guardian, Iain Duncan Smith's interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme was a 'slip' of his 'secular mask'.
He said that four million jobs were created under Labour, yet 70 per cent of them were filled by people from overseas because people from this country were not capable or able to take those jobs. "Surely that's a sin," he lamented, swiftly following the micro-sermon with the theologically-neutral: "...that's the problem."
And to read all the media coverage this one small word has elicted you'd think he'd blasphemed against Cliff Richard.
The use of the word 'sin' by a Christian of the sincere conviction and devotion of Iain Duncan Smith does not constitute a slipping of the 'mask of secularisation', for he doesn't wear one. His faith underpins all that he does, all that says and all that motivates him. He has no ambition but to alleviate poverty, and he has made it clear that his faith is integral to everything he does.
Politicians may talk about it freely in the USA. But in the UK and the EU, God forbid that you might mention that the theological framework that underpins your political worldview might be Christian.
We are in the secular age of Godlessness: civil society is being once again constructed without a religious basis.
We have, of course, been here before: the French Revolution; Nazi Germany and the Marxism of the Soviet Union. Although each of these sought to expunge traditional expressions of religion, they simply created an alternative ideology which was every bit as 'religious' as that they sought to eradicate. And the move now is to establish a preeminent secular narrative and forge a 'neutral' society detached from it Christian roots, in which the unifying principle is nothing more than hedonistic libertarianism constructed on a foundation of 'Human Rights'.
Historically, the Conservative Party (through both its Tory and Whig roots) has embraced the insight of the moral and intellectual imperfection of human nature as embodied in the doctrine of 'Original Sin'. It is a humiliating and offensive teaching, yet borne out by the entirety of history. Conservatism has traditionally understood that true religion is the basis of civil society; that society can only function effectively when we accept moral obligations and acknowledge personal responsibility.
And not to do so is indeed sin.
The fall of man is total in that every facet of his being is affected: the result is poverty, immorality and injustice. The Conservative Party exists to strengthen the family, address the needs of the poor, encourage civil society and value tradition. Historically it has done all this in partnership with the Church of England.
But public morality has become relative, social philosophy has become libertarian and rights have supplanted responsibility.
And 'sin' has become a mere 'problem'.