No Mixing Religion And Politics, Please, We're British

In a discussion over the role of religion in British politics, both religious and political leaders seem to agree: they don't want to be like America.

The dialogue in the United Kingdom was sparked by a Catholic prelate's comments. In the midst of a heated election season, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor praised the opposition Conservative Party's proposal to limit abortion to 20 weeks from the current 24, according to the BBC.

This clerical foray into the relatively tame debate in the U.K. over abortion sparked criticism from all sides and prompted the church official to clarify his remark.

Murphy-O'Connor, the archbishop of Westminster, defended his statement as "perfectly legitimate" but reminded them that he "certainly was not saying that Catholics should vote for any one particular party." He rejected what he called the "specter" of an American-style blending of religion and politics, reported the Associated Press.

Labor Party Prime Minister Tony Blair has defended his position that he has no plans to change the law and has reiterated remarks made last month. "I do not want to end up with an American style of politics, with us all going out there beating our chest about our faith," he said. He said it's "a bit unhealthy" to use religion in the political process.

The debate over abortion in the United Kingdom, like in most European countries, is mild compared to what is commonplace here in the United States. As Britain grapples with this and many other important moral issues, it is refreshing to see politicians and religious leaders wary of an unhealthy mix of religion and politics - even in a country with an established church!

I guess things are just different on the other side of the pond.