By Tim Montgomerie
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Two weeks ago Matthew d'Ancona used his Sunday Telegraph column to wish that Christopher Hitchens was still alive to dissect the Prime Minister's speech on the King James Bible:
"As an implacable believer in the division between church and state, Hitch would have surely objected to a Prime Minister brandishing the King James Bible in the first place, and annexing it to the Government’s crusade against “the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country these past few generations”. I imagine Christopher might have quoted, as he so often did, Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists of 1802, which declared that “the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions”, a principle reflected in the “wall of separation between Church & State”."
Matthew D'Ancona chides David Cameron for looking to Christianity to restore the moral base in Britain, twice quoting Thomas Jefferson as an alternative source of wisdom.
In considering Jefferson's doctrine of the rights of man, it is worth remembering that he entered his own children, fathered through his black mistress, into the slave register of his Plantation, at a time when some of his contemporaries were freeing their slaves. It is also hard to exaggerate the extent to which his concept of rights underpinned the philosophy of the secessionist ‘Fire eaters’ who plunged America into its Civil War, killing more Americans than in all that great country’s other wars put together.
It is surely better to turn to Alfred the Great, the founding father of the English-speaking world as we know it. His Book of Laws was commended by Winston Churchill as the starting point for the English Common Law, shared today by so many countries. It begins by setting out the Ten Commandments.
The Judaeo-Christian tradition and the Christian religion gave us most of our great institutions. They provide us today with a better hope for restoring a morally coherent society than writers with little love for this country.
Julian Brazier MP"