Magazine article The Spectator

We Should Be a Christian Country

Magazine article The Spectator

We Should Be a Christian Country

Article excerpt

A Protestant country is a free country

Credit: Julie Burchill

For the past decade, I have lived -- literally -- between a church and a synagogue; as metaphors go, I would get laughed out of town if I stuck it in a novel. I left my church (not the one next door) when a ten-year-old child (not just a random passer-by, but a regular attendant) identified the cross as 'a space rocket' and everyone laughed indulgently. And then I left my synagogue (again, not the nearby one) when the liberal rabbi's insistence that all religions were equally worthy of respect began to sound increasingly hollow in the face of the increasing intolerance and bigotry of Islamism. Now I exist in suspension between the two faiths. It doesn't trouble me (I'm far too shallow to agonise over matters of life and death), but it does interest me, for I am that strange being, the reverse of the vile modern type who parrots, 'I'm not religious, but I am spiritual', in the belief that it makes them sound deep and interesting as opposed to a vacuous ass-hat. I'm not spiritual -- but I am definitely religious. Specifically, I have a great respect for Judeo-Christian culture as I believe it to be the creator and guardian of those freedoms we in the West enjoy today, including secularism.

So I was annoyed to see That Letter in theTelegraph from 55 self-regarding sticky-beaks -- sorry, 55 respected public figures -- taking the Prime Minister to task for claiming that Britain is still a Christian country. It's simplistic to evaluate whether a country is Christian or not by counting the heads bowed beside stained glass each Sunday. If we were talking about Catholicism, fair enough, but isn't it a particularly appealing facet of Protestantism that a person who does good and doesn't go to church is more of a Christian than one who doesn't and does?

The letter was particularly pointless at a time when Cameron and the Church of England are having a wuss-off over who's the most caring and inclusive. Cam backs gay marriage; the Church think he's gone too far. But then the Church gets that big foam wagging finger moving eight to the bar over food banks, scolding Cam that Jesus wouldn't like it. It's extraordinarily foolish at a time when a genuinely restrictive, repressive religion is making ever greater gains in this country. …

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