The front-bench MPs have been sworn into Parliament. Others will follow. All but one member of the Cabinet took the religious form of the oath:
I swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true alliegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg (a professed atheist) took the secular oath:
I do solemnly, sincerely and most and affirm I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law.
Many Labour front-benchers followed Mr Clegg’s example. David Miliband, Alistair Darling, Harriet Harman, Alan Johnson, Hilary Benn, Yvette Cooper, Bob Ainsworth and John Denham all affirmed their allegiance to the Queen.
So are we to conclude the Government is Godly and Her Majesty’s Opposition is mainly Godless? I would be surprised, in this secular age, if every Cabinet member swearing the relgious oath really believed in the God by whom they swore.
It is, perhaps, a triumph of tradition over truth.
But many cabinet ministers certainly do profess a believe in God. David Cameron is a regular church-goer. William Hague has called himself a “committed Christian”. Caroline Spelman is a trustee of the Conservative Christian Fellowship. Liam Fox and Iain Duncan Smith are Catholics. Baroness Warsi is a Muslim. No doubt there are others.
But are they any more right to swear the oath than the others?
Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Surely a conundrum for some believing MPs. I found it interesting to observe that Simon Hughes, a professed Christian, chose to take the secular oath. There may have been others.