Brown DOES do God as he calls for new world order in sermon at St Paul's
By James Chapman
Last updated at 7:03 PM on 31st March 2009
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Divine strength: Gordon Brown, in St Paul's Cathedral, talking about faith and the global economy
Gordon Brown today made an overtly religious call for a new world order based on the 'deep moral sense' shared by all faiths.
Making the first speech by a serving Prime Minister at St Paul's Cathedral in London, Mr Brown quoted from scripture as he said people could come together to forge a new 'global society'.
The world economy and society should be rebuilt around a Zulu word for hope - themba - which also stands for 'there must be an alternative', the Prime Minister suggested.
It was an extraordinary break from his predecessor Tony Blair, whose spin doctor Alastair Campbell, famously declared that 'we don't do God'.
At Westminster it was also seen as high risk for a Government mired in allegations of sleaze to put morality and faith at the centre of its political and economic message.
Mr Brown, asked about his decision to discuss religion so openly, declared: 'I think politicians have got to be very careful that they don't turn out to try to be bishops.
'But what we do and what we say reflects the views that we have, the belief we hold, the faith we were brought up in and the faith we believe in.'
Mr Brown, whose father was a minister in the Church of Scotland, is not a regular churchgoer, but aides said last night that he believed in God.
The Prime Minister, on a platform with his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd and the Bishop of London Richard Chartres, admitted unsupervised financial markets had 'crossed moral boundaries'.
He said market forces should be replaced by those of the 'heart' because it was now clear they could 'become the enemy of the good society'.
'We can now see that markets cannot self-regulate but they can self destruct,' he added.
Critics said Mr Brown undermined his high moral tone by injecting some low politics into his address. He claimed those that would 'do nothing' and let the recession 'run its course' - his traditional attack on David Cameron - 'demean our humanity'.
The Prime Minister also raised eyebrows by claiming he had been arguing for 'some time' that there are limits to markets.
Mr Brown, with Australian PM Kevin Rudd in the historic cathedral, in the week that world leaders meet for the G20 summit
For more than a decade, Labour enthusiastically championed the 'light touch' regulation of the City now blamed for letting bankers take massive risks.
Speaking to a congregation of 2,000 faith leaders, charity workers, City leaders and schoolchildren, Mr Brown again dodged calls for him to apologise for his role in the financial crisis.
'I have always said I take full responsibility for my actions,' he declared. 'But I also know that this crisis is global in source and global in scale.
'I believe that unsupervised globalisation of our financial markets did not only cross national boundaries - it crossed moral boundaries too.'
The Prime Minister said financial institutions and markets must in future operate around the 'enduring virtues' of everyday life.
'Our financial system must be founded on the very same values that are at the heart of our family lives,' he said.
The Prime Minister argued that through all faiths, traditions and heritages runs a 'single powerful modern sense demanding responsibility from all and fairness to all'.
The quoted the Christian doctrine of 'do to others what you would have them do unto you' and highlighted similar principles in Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism.
'They each and all reflect a sense that we share the pain of other, and a sense that we believe in something bigger than ourselves - that we cannot be truly content while others face despair, cannot be completely at ease while others live in fear, cannot be satisfied while others are in sorrow,' he said.
'We all feel, regardless of the source of our philosophy, the same deep moral sense that each of us is our brother and sisters' keeper... we cannot and will not pass by on the other side when people are suffering and when we have it within our power to help.'
The Prime Minister called for religious leaders, business chiefs, charities, universities and schools to 'begin a conversation, a national debate, as serious as any we have entered into in my lifetime, about the shape of the economy and the society we have now to renew'.
He said that the word themba, coined by African campaigners and short for 'there must be an alternative', conveyed 'everything that must guide us today'.
'While it was an acronym, it was also the Zulu word for the most important thing that humans can have - hope,' he added.
'Themba - the confidence, conviction and certainty that where there are problems there are always solutions, and we do not need to accept the defeatism of doing nothing.