How Can This Great, UNITED Kingdom - Which Gave the World Christian Civilisation - Just Tear Itself Apart? on the Holiest Day, a Leading Historian and Supporter of the English-Scottish Union Delivers an Impassioned Plea
Byline: SIMON HEFFER
ON THIS holiest of days for Christians, when churches and chapels will be filled with people rejoicing at Jesus Christ's Resurrection, we should reflect on the central place Christianity still occupies in our apparently secular society. We are a nation, a people and a civilisation imbued with its values. We have exported them around the world. Our Queen is Supreme Governor of an Established Church, and around the Commonwealth her realms and former colonies still project and embrace Christian ideals.
As has been clear from the welcome given to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge - and their infant son - in New Zealand and Australia, the high representatives of our civilisation are met with fellow feeling.
It is decades since Britain could call itself an imperial power, but the values it gave to so much of the world, rooted in Christianity, but branching out into the rule of law and Westminster-style democracy, are at the heart of what makes Britain morally great.
It has not always been easy, however. One reason why many of us felt so uplifted by the visit a fortnight ago of Michael D Higgins, the President of Ireland, was that it seemed to signal an end to centuries of hatred and violence between Britain and its next-door neighbour.
Admission of one's wrongs and forgiveness for them are central to Christianity. That those values, common to Britain and Ireland, should at last assert themselves in this hitherto troubled and wretched relationship is truly a candle in a dark world.
In one place only, it seems, in our family of nations, is there a movement for more distance.
Scotland votes in September on whether to remain in a Union that has pertained since 1707. After what can only be described as a dismal campaign by Unionists, some polls show the two sides within five points of each other.
The values we share, and the history we have made together, seem to count for far less now than they have ever done. Even as republican movements around the Commonwealth fade into obsolescence, some Scots seem determined to loosen those ties.
To any student of our imperial history, and of the common cause Britain has made over the past centuries, such ideas are as revolutionary as they are depressing. Britain, after all, would hardly have had an imperial project without Scotland. Canada and New Zealand were tamed largely by Scots pioneers. Scots were instrumental, too, in the establishment of British India, their military expertise and fortitude key to maintaining order in a vast country with little manpower. And it is often forgotten that Scots largely undertook the British colonisation of Africa.
It was there especially that Scots spread the values of Christianity among the people. David Livingstone was a great explorer, but he was also a missionary, and it was his belief in Christian Britain that took him around that continent.
Livingstone's father, Neil, had been a door-to-door tea salesman. But he also volunteered as a Sunday School teacher, and on his rounds he would give out pamphlets to inspire the less Godly. …