Murphy's faith card unlikely to win votes

It is interesting to note Scottish Secretary, Jim Murphy, is to "play the religion card to win votes" (your report, 23 February). This is the same Mr Murphy who, last month, was reported as aiming to counteract the threatened opposition of the BNP in his East Renfrewshire Westminster constituency, by uniting "Christian, Muslim and Jewish groups to battle the party, which he described as 'abhorrent'". (your report, 18 February).

However, it should be noted that this is also the same Mr Murphy who was apparently happy to support the present government in its attempts to add further restrictions to the Equality Bill – thankfully blocked by the House of Lords – that would have removed the right of churches and other Christian organisations to refuse to employ persons who do not share their core beliefs, in particular those whose sexual conduct is contrary to the teachings of the Bible.

REV C BRIAN ROSS

Shields Road

Motherwell

I think it would be more accurate to say that, instead of "Labour trying to reposition itself as the natural party of religious voters" (your report, 23 February), it is trying once more to get the endorsement of the Roman Catholic Church in particular which used to be taken for granted. Labour knows that a candidate being given the Church's blessing is worth a lot more than thousands of pounds spent on leaflets through doors. Unless the SNP candidate is called John Paul, I suppose.

BARRY LEES

Denholm Street

Greenock

You describe MP Jim Murphy as being a "devout" Catholic (your report, 23 February), that is: he subscribes to all the tenets, beliefs and instructions of that faith.

That being so, he cannot speak to other faiths in the way he does because one of his beliefs and prayers he will offer is for the conversion of England, and so the United Kingdom, to the pre-Reformation beliefs and practices. Others can fill in the many fault lines in his attempt to win votes.

TOM REILLY

Esslemont Road,

Edinburgh

Jim Murphy's religion, (your report, 23 February) or lack of it, is of no concern to me, nor I imagine to most in Scotland. However, his use of religion, and his "devout" Catholicism, to further his, and Labour's,ambitions is disgraceful.

To quote Keir Hardie, it is an insult to the founders of the real Labour party. Today's Labour is no inheritor of those principled, decent men and women, who strove to improve the lot of those at the lower reaches of society.

BILL McLEAN

Rosemill Court

Dunfermline

Jim Murphy is taking Labour into dangerous territory when he calls on it to make a special play for the religious vote (your report, 23 February).

A poll by ComRes published last week showed that those who define themselves as "non-religious" are equal in number to those who say they have a religion.

If Labour starts favouring religious voters by promising regressive legislation, dictated by out-of-touch and dogmatic religious leaders, it risks alienating that half of the population who say religion has "little importance" in their lives.

Other polls have shown that most ordinary Catholics are completely out of sympathy with the teachings of the Church on issues such as contraception, euthanasia, homosexuality and abortion. Why, then, would they want such issues on the agenda of a political party?

His personal religious enthusiasm may be blinding Mr Murphy to the facts. One of those facts is that it is no longer the case that clerics can dictate the way their congregations vote. People are too independent-minded now to be herded into the voting booth by religious considerations alone.

TERRY SANDERSON

President, National Secular Society, London