MP Jonathan Reynolds has talked about his religious faith, as part of an event that looked at the relationship between faith and politics.
The ‘Faith in Politics?’ event was organised by Rev Mark Bennett, from Holy Trinity Church, in Gee Cross.
Joining Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds on the platform were Rob Carr from the Christian Socialist Movement and Werneth councillor Raja Miah.
Although Alastair Campbell once famously said that the Labour Party doesn’t do God, Mr Reynolds suggested that his political belief was actually a natural extension of his faith.
Following the event – which was attended by dozens of church goers and Labour Party members – Mr Reynolds said: "For many people in the Labour Party – as for many people in the Conservative Party – politics is a logical extension of their religion.
"In my case I have no doubt that my faith inspired the values which led me to get involved in politics. In fact it never occurred to me that the two should be separate.
"Compassion, solidarity, and tolerance aren’t just the values of my church, they are the values of my political party too."
Mr Reynolds points to the inseparable roots of working class politics in religion – pointing to the role played by Methodist Minister Joseph Rayner Stephens as a local leader of the Chartist movement and those such as Keir Hardie, who saw political rallies as extensions of religious preaching.
However he says it’s important to recognise that not all constituents will share his religious convictions, so benefits of particular political positions must extend beyond religious belief.
He said: "Whilst I accept that my faith and my political beliefs are closely connected, I must be willing to accept that the merits for those positions must extend beyond a religious argument.
"Just because my convictions lead me to a particular conclusion, the reasons that move other people to that same conclusion will quite often be different – and in many instances religion will have no bearing on them at all.
"Christianity does not have a monopoly on the moral issues of the day, and the same can be said of other faiths."
The ‘Faith in Politics?’ event was held at Hyde Football Club on Friday 21 September, 2012.
Published Tuesday 9 October, 2012