Strong pro-family comments and an endorsement of Christian principles by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher have attracted widespread attention throughout England and drawn praise from President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency.
President Monson, who recently attended a regional conference in Frankfurt, West Germany, where home life and a happy family were featured as topics, was pleased to note in the London Times, that Mrs. Thatcher had emphasized virtually the same topics in messages she gave to her country."Perhaps the world, at long last, is recognizing that strong families play a vital role in the stability of a nation and, indeed, the world," he noted.
Addressing 2,000 people at the Conservative Women's Conference in London, Mrs. Thatcher described the family as the "building block of society," saying it "far surpassed the state in the provision of welfare" and "fashioned the beliefs of succeeding generations."
"Policy must be further directed at strengthening the family," she added. "It is a nursery, a school, a hospital, a leisure center, a place of refuge and a place of rest. It encompasses the whole of the society. It fashions our beliefs. It is the preparation for the rest of our life. Very few jobs compare in long-term importance and satisfaction with that of housewife and mother."
Besides advocating family values in her conference speech, Mrs. Thatcher stressed the importance of self-reliance.
"Self-reliance and self-respect are precious qualities. They are the source of all endeavor. But they are all too easily destroyed by the temptations of state-induced dependence," she said. "Most of us were brought up to respect these values. I respect them today, for they are the traditional values of British life."
In a separate speech to the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh, Scotland, Mrs. Thatcher gave what the Times called, ". . . the fullest insight she has ever given into her religious convictions."
She remarked: "Most Christians would regard it as their personal Christian duty to help their fellow men and women. They would regard the lives of children as a precious trust. These duties come not from any secular legislation passed by parliament, but from being a Christian."
Mrs. Thatcher added that principles of Christianity taught in the scriptures enhance lives and are relevant to public policy.
"I believe that by taking . . . key elements from the Old and New Testaments, we gain a view of the universe, a proper attitude to work and principles to shape economic and social life. We are told we must work and use our talents to create wealth. Nevertheless, the Tenth Commandment - `Thou shalt not covet' - recognizes that making money and owning things could become selfish activities. But it is not the creation of wealth that is wrong, but love of money for its own sake. The spiritual dimension comes in deciding what one does with the wealth.
"None of this, of course, tells us exactly what kind of political and social institutions we should have. On this point, Christians will very often genuinely disagree, though it is a mark of Christian manners that they will do so with courtesy and mutual respect."
Though espousing these values, Mrs. Thatcher emphasized the importance of tolerance for differing viewpoints.
"To assert absolute moral values is not to claim perfection for ourselves. No true Christian could do that. What is more, one of the great principles of our Judaic-Christian inheritance is tolerance. There is no place for racial or religious intolerance in our creed."
Further revealing her beliefs, she identified what she feels are the distinctive marks of Christianity: "First, that from the beginning, man has been endowed by God with the fundamental right to choose between good and evil.
"Second, that we were made in God's own image, and therefore we are expected to use all our own power of thought and judgment in exercising that choice; and further, if we open our hearts to God, He has promised to work within us.
"And third, that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, when faced with His terrible choice and lonely vigil, chose to lay down His life that our sins may be forgiven."