While he was leader of the opposition, I wrote to David Cameron and asked him what he would want to say to Christians who were uncertain about getting involved in politics. This was his reply:
“Churches have a proud history of involvement in schools, hospices and other community organizations. And today, as I travel around the country, I am constantly amazed by the breadth of the church’s engagement in society. In communities where the government has failed to make much impact it is local groups, often churches, who daily see lives transformed. It is often church groups who lead the way in fostering a culture of mutuality and responsibility – helping each other through difficult times; restoring bonds of trust and respect; effecting change because, although the problems are severe, they know that they are part of the solution. The wonder of democracy is that we all get to play a part. It is: not just about voting, because a responsible society may begin at the ballot box but it continues throughout the years and across the country. It’s about offering a helping hand where no one else noticed; motivating communities to love one another; never walking by, but taking time to cross to the other side…Together we can change things.”
I have only had the opportunity to meet David Cameron on one occasion. I was invited along with my 10 year old son to a meeting about reforming adoption. We were told that a senior government minister was going to address the group of 20 people that were waiting in a north London primary school. When the PM breezed in and he instantly owned the room. He was very assured and yet very personable. He spoke; without notes, and showed an impressive knowledge of the adoption scene. I had the opportunity to ask a question saying that I believed that the church was an untapped resource for finding families for the children that were waiting the longest for adoptive homes. He smiled and agreed that there needed to be “sea-change” in the way that the government worked with faith communities. There in that room I realised that Home for Good could be more than a campaign, but it could help redefine the relationship between govenernment and the church with regards to the welfare of vulernable children. The Prime Minister did an excellent job of making a great first impression. He was not too busy to pose for a hug with my son – a picture that is still on display in his room. After a government that had said that they didn’t do God I was encouraged to hear a party leader who was willing to recognise the way that churches were transforming communities. David Cameron once described his own faith in terms of an intermittent radio signal –
“Like Magic FM in the Chilterns, it comes and goes.”
To be honest many Christians can identify with the experience of losing touch with God from time to time.
I can’t say I have agreed with all of Cameron’s policies. But I did have the privilege of spending time with many of his staff who showed great passion for helping build a more just society. I can pay honour to the many admirable things Cameron accomplished in office – he invested unprecedented amounts of money into adoption care and support. He changed his mind about accepting refugees into the UK eventually agreeing to receive 26000 refugees and unaccompanied asylum seeking children. He honoured the 0.7% of GDP development budget. He was unashamed in his appreciation of the role of faith in society once declaring that he was “evangelical about his faith” and how he recognised the “countless acts of kindness carried out by those who believe in and follow Christ”.
Many however will remember him only for the gamble he made on the EU referendum that has lead not only to his own political demise but brought about untold consequences for our nation. But as David Cameron takes his new role as a backbencher committed to “willing on” our new Prime Minister Theresa May and his colleagues I want to offer up a prayer for him. We are told to prayer for our rulers, and I think this applies to when they leave office having worked hard on our behalf.
My prayer is that Mr Cameron would use his considerable talents to work for a more just society. I give thanks for the good things he has already accomplished. But I pray that he would have the time now that the searing glare of the public spotlight moves away from him that to take the opportunity to move the dial of his faith so that he might enjoy the clearer reception of a living relationship with God. The good news for Mr Cameron is that Christianity offers a lot more excitement than the muzak on Magic FM it offers a compelling vision for life, for pursuing justice in our world with the God who is a champion of the vulnerable.
For more information visit www.homeforgood.org.uk