Sermon on the Mound

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The Sermon on the Mound is the name given by the Scottish press to an address made by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland on 21 May 1988.[1][2][3] The name is a play on Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and on the artificial hill in Edinburgh called the Mound, on which the Church's Assembly Hall stands, and the fact that Thatcher was preaching to a church and nation that consistently rejected her ideology.[4] She had been invited by the then Moderator of the General Assembly, Duncan Shaw.

In the address, Thatcher offered a theological justification for her ideas on capitalism and the market economy. Citing a view that "Christianity is about spiritual redemption, not social reform", she asserted that the two really should not be separated, but went on to emphasise personal responsibility, also quoting St Paul by saying "If a man will not work he shall not eat".[1][5] Choice played a significant part in Thatcherite reforms and Thatcher claimed choice was also Christian by stating that Christ chose to lay down his life and that all individuals have the God-given right to choose between good and evil. Thatcher also justified her belief in individual salvation by quoting from the hymn I Vow to Thee, My Country (which was not in the Church of Scotland's hymnary of the time[6]):

[It]...speak[s] of "another country I heard of long ago" whose King can't be seen and whose armies can't be counted, but "soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase". Not group by group, or party by party, or even church by church—but soul by soul—and each one counts.

The Margaret Thatcher Foundation, which reproduces the full text of the speech on its website and characterises the nickname "Sermon on the Mound" as distasteful,[7] rates it as having key importance as a statement of Thatcher's views on religion, morality, family, social security, welfare, taxation, education, race, immigration, nationality, and civil liberties.


  1. ^ a b PM addresses Church of Scotland, BBC News, 19 May 2008, retrieved 13 September 2008
  2. ^ Torrance, David (17 May 2008), "Did Thatcher get raw deal over her Sermon on the Mound?", The Scotsman, retrieved 13 September 2008
  3. ^ Davidson, Lorraine (16 May 2008), "Brown to deliver his own 'Sermon on the Mound'", The Times, retrieved 13 September 2008
  4. ^ Maddox, David (9 April 2013), "Margaret Thatcher's 'Sermon on the Mound'", The Scotsman, retrieved 25 May 2018
  5. ^ 2 Thessalonians 3:10
  6. ^ Church Hymnary (3rd ed.)
  7. ^ Speech to General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Margaret Thatcher Foundation, 21 May 1988, retrieved 25 May 2018, Tastelessly, opponents nicknamed the speech 'the Sermon on the Mound' (for discussion of the nickname, see Interview for Scotland on Sunday, 31 October 1988).

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