Letter: Churches fight social evils

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Sir: Christian Socialism, you imply (leading article, 22 March), is doomed. Methodism, and Church attendance, is on the decline and the broad tradition into which Tony Blair has tapped has "no social basis". Yet in the last two months nearly 2,000 new members have joined the Christian Socialist Movement. You allude to the old adage that the Labour Party owes more to Methodism than to Marx, yet the first Christian Socialists were Anglicans, not Methodists, and Roman Catholics in Britain, from Cardinal Manning and John Wheatley through to today, have been vital in outlining the parameters of a "civic Christianity".

Today, though many of the churches seem to have little energy for anything other than internal wrangles - it was worrying that not a single bishop chose to express a public view on the Scott report's criticisms of government practice - the number of Christian Socialists involved in public life is as high as ever. The political agenda for Christians of whatever denomination is clear at the moment: rescuing politics from the slough into which it has fallen, making education and the pursuit of truth a national passion and addressing the despair of grinding unemployment, homelessness, inequality and poverty at home and abroad.

As you rightly say, this depends on the acceptance of a basic moral code which values honesty and integrity and calls things "right" and "wrong". Otherwise we are left with Nigel Lawson's nihilistic dismissal: "There is nothing left to socialism but the moral high ground". There is a clear task for those who believe that politics is a moral endeavour.

Chris Bryant

The Christian Socialist Movement

London N1

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