Christians are disproportionately represented in civil society institutions, according to the organiser of the National Conservatism Conference underway at the Emmanuel Christian Centre in Westminster. According to James Orr, there is a feeling “conservatism has run out of road” and Christians could help answer that.
“It's striking, actually, it's fashionable to say how few active Christians there are in public life” commented the Cambridge philosopher and theologian. “And I just don't think that's true. I think that we punch way above our weight” he told Premier Christian News.
The conference is the project of the Edmund Burke Foundation, a public affairs institute founded with the aim of strengthening family and nation, led by Orr. He told Premier that the conference aims to address what he called “a sense of crisis within political conservatism” in Britain, America and continental Europe.
“There's a sense of deep despair that basic bread and butter conservative issues are simply not being addressed”, James Orr said. “The right to speak your mind, the right sort of freedom to live according to your religious beliefs, the rights of women and mothers’ rights over their children”, he continued. “And all of these sorts of issues are not just not being defended”, he said.
After thirteen years in national office, and governments run by Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and now Rishi Sunak, the conference aims to answer ‘where does Conservatism go after Brexit?’
It includes speeches from Christian MPs Miriam Cates, Danny Kruger and Jacob Rees-Mogg, plus contributions from Christian thinkers such as Imogen Sinclair, Prof Rev Nigel Biggar and Fr Benedict Kiely.
James Orr claims that a wide-range of institutions have been ‘captured’ by what he says is a "secular outlook on the world”: “The tools of government, the civil service, are basically awash with people who think that Brexit was a bad idea, people who think that national sovereignty is a bad idea”, he continued.
“People who think that Christians are kooky people who think that really, if you're not wearing a rainbow lanyard or flying a rainbow flag, then you're simply somehow morally suspect” he added.
According to Orr, Christians are playing a key role in advocating for free speech in the public square: “There are disproportionately many Christians who are very active across all the different parties, actually, some in government, some on the back benches, some working behind the scenes and academics, institutional leaders“, he concluded.