"With this sword do justice, stop the growth of iniquity, protect the holy Church of God, help and defend widows and orphans, restore the things that are gone to decay, maintain the things that are restored, punish and reform what is amiss and confirm what is in good order."
So says the Archbishop of Canterbury as he hands the Sword of State to the monarch.
Shaftesbury and Wilberforce used the full force of the State to stamp out abuses of the poor at home and slavery abroad, both of which are now well on the way back in this secularised age. Victorian Nonconformists used the Liberal Party to fight against opium dens and the compelling of people to work seven-day weeks, both of which have now returned in full. Temperance Methodists built the Labour Party in order to counteract brutal capitalism precisely so as to prevent a Marxist revolution, whereas the coherence of the former with the cultural aspects of the latter now reigns supreme. But not in the House of Lords. Long may it remain.
As in most European countries, and as in anywhere having the British monarch at the Head, our State is in and of itself an institutional expression of Christianity, whether or not there is an Established Church. Therefore, our Welfare State and other social democratic measures, as in those other countries, are in and of themselves expression of Christian charity and of the Biblical, Patristic, Medieval, Catholic and classically Protestant understandings of society as an organic whole.
American critics of the Welfare State as secular and secularising are not only rather ahistorical in their own terms and somewhat out of touch with the profound Christianity of rural, working-class and black America. They are also captive to the theory of the constitutional separation of Church and State, which has nothing to do with Britain any more than with, say, Germany with her church taxes and her Kirchentag, or Italy with her Crucifixes in the courtroom and the classroom. The solution is not to remove the expressions of Christian charity and of the Christian concepts of organic society from the American civic order, but to remove the American civic order's formal repudiation of their basis.
What we have seen in today's nominally conservative and Tory media has been what we also saw when the neoconservative wars were most enthusiastically promoted by media moguls who, far from being conservative figures, were somehow all and yet none of Australian, American and British, or somehow all and yet none of Canadian, American and British. Those media have been the prime movers in turning first New Labour, and then also its imitators who have taken over the Conservative Party, into what most of Britain’s supposedly conservative and Tory newspapers have long been: more loyal to the United States and to the State of Israel than to the United Kingdom.
A position as unconservative and as far removed from Labourism as it is possible to imagine, and without parallel in any comparable country, if in any country at all. In short, wannabe Americanism, and an abstract America at that, not the really existing country. The sort of thing that the Founding Fathers had in mind, "free" from Christendom and therefore from the principles that begat social democracy in the industrial and post-industrial age.
The bishops did not persuade the House of Lords that there should be no cap whatever on a household's benefit entitlement, but only that it should not include Child Benefit. The universal payment of Child Benefit to mothers is a very strong argument for the restoration of the tax allowance for fathers, and with it for the whole series of measures necessary for the State to do its Christian duty of securing paternal authority, including the economic basis of that authority in high-wage, high-skilled, high-status employment.
And Child Benefit is one of the means whereby the State acknowledges that the procreation of human life is a good in and of itself, in obedience to the first commandment of God to Man in Scripture. Our civilisation, including its social democracy, was built and can only be sustained on that very high, Biblical view of human demographic, economic and cultural expansion and development. We must understand climate change in that light: over thousands of years, our species has demonstrated its God-given capacity to meet environmental challenges and to overcome environmental obstacles. We have to retain our full confidence in that capacity. One small way of doing so is by retaining universal Child Benefit while not counting it towards any - in itself, necessary - cap on entitlement.