On Friday I snapped a Scottish Episcopalians say "No Trident Replacement" banner in Edinburgh - as you may imagine I shouted a silent YES in support. I was reminded of a quote I used to have on my office wall from one of my political/religious heroes, Archbishop Desmond Tutu - " I am puzzled which Bible people are reading when they suggest religion and politics don't mix".
Whether or not we agree with Bishop Devine (what a cool name for a bishop!), Archbishop Tutu or the Episcopalian Church, or whether they agree with each other, the idea that you can keep religion and politics completely separate is a nonsense. Whilst I support the disestablishment of the Church of England I can't support the notion that if you have a religious belief, particularly if you express that through taking on a leadership role, you are automatically disqualified from expressing a political opinion. Yes, we may not agree with everything that every bishop, imam or rabbi utters, we may worry about the influence they have on their "complient" flocks, however, I would argue that the influence of Rupert Murdoch is far stronger and far more disturbing.
What I find worrying is when religion or quasi religion disestablishes itself from normal and/or political life, think of Waco and Jonestown and Iraq, even Northern Ireland. If faith means anything it must surely mean engagement with the society in which it operates and the structures by which that society operates.
Yesterday I joined friends from our local CND, campaigning against Trident, beside a bust of Archbishop Trevor Huddleston, another churchman, without whose "political" action the world in general and South Africa in particular, would have been the poorer. One of my friends commented on how great it was that even in death he could continue to be involved in campaigning!
So, now off to pack for another trip to glorious Glasgow tomorrow. This time staying at a hotel which not only has free internet access (be warned) but also a free bar! What a good job I resisted that temptation to give up wine for lent...........