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The establishment's disdain for Christianity

Julian Mann
October 21, 2016

Julian Mann believes the establishment's profound aversion to Christianity has led Boris Johnson to airbrush out the influence of Churchill's nanny, Elizabeth Everest. 

Nowhere is the British political establishment's attitude to Christianity more clearly revealed than in Boris Johnson's suppression of the fact that Winston Churchill's nanny, Elizabeth Everest, was an evangelical Christian.

In his book, The Churchill Factor, How One Man Made History (Hodder & Stoughton. 2014), the Foreign Secretary was certainly fulsome in his description of Mrs Everest's positive moral influence on Churchill: 'It is hard to know exactly how much the world owes to Winston Churchill's nanny. But if anyone taught him to be good and kind and by and large truthful, it was surely her. She it was, I reckon, who helped him to that vast and generous moral sense' (p115).

But unlike Churchill himself who made clear in his 1930 autobiography, My Early Life, that Mrs Everest was of 'Low Church' (i.e. Anglican evangelical) convictions, Mr Johnson made no mention of the devoutly Christian light guiding the statesman's boyhood mentoress.

Judging from his description of the beneficial impact of Christianity on Roman Britain in his 1956 book,  A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Churchill would almost certainly have been irritated by the presumption in Mr Johnson's assertion that he 'was not a practising Christian…His ethic was really pre-Christian, even Homeric' (p113).

Churchill wrote: 'Christianity asked again all the questions which the Roman world deemed answered for ever, and some that it had never thought of. Although the varieties of status, with all their grievous consequences, were accepted during these centuries, even by those who suffered from them most, as part of the law of nature, the institution of slavery, by which a third of Roman society was bound, could not withstand indefinitely the new dynamic thoughts which Christianity brought with it' (Volume One, Cassell's, pp35-36).

But at the Stalinesque airbrushing out of the historical fact that his nanny was a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, Churchill would surely have been more spiritually and morally outraged than annoyed.

The influence of biblical Christianity on the profound aversion to totalitarianism many millions of Britons feel really does seem an inconvenient historical fact for the present political class.

Julian Mann is vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire. Before ordination he was a reporter for Retail Week.
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