Labour view faith is an ‘eccentricity’ practised by ‘oddities’
But Dr Williams is not prepared to ‘dumb down’ his theology to bite-size red-top headlines, and neither does he appear willing to attend media-training classes or consult Simon Cowell or Trinny and Susannah or (God forbid) Gok Wan on his appearance. In an age of superficiality obsessed with seeming and appearing, the Archbishop’s desire to be true to himself does, sadly, make him an eccentricity. And in an age which communicates in media soundbites and twitter inanities, his desire to be authentic in his theology makes him an oddity.
It is not so much Labour which treats people of faith as odd-balls: it is part of the zeitgeist.
But it is not people of all faiths who are viewed as such, and this is most definitely the fault of this Government.
The Archbishop says: “The trouble with a lot of Government initiatives about faith is that they assume it is a problem, it’s an eccentricity, it’s practised by oddities, foreigners and minorities. The effect is to de-normalise faith, to intensify the perception that faith is not part of our bloodstream. And, you know, in great swaths of the country that’s how it is.”
Labour have relegated the Christian faith to the realms of disneyfied bigotry while authenticating and affirming the religions of ‘foreigners and minorities’. One is now free to blaspheme the God of the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ: one is free to desecrate the Bible (at the taxpayer’s expense), mock the Pope, insult the Archbishop of Canterbury and criticise the Church to one’s heart’s content.
But God forbid one might even so much as mention Allah, question the prophethood of Mohammed, oppose the construction of a mosque or place the Qur’an on the bottom shelf of a public library.
For that is to make one an intolerant, xenophobic, racist white-supremacist. And therein lie the UK's new blasphemy laws.
And Cranmer wishes to be clear about this point: it is not that the majority of British Muslims are inclined to react violently to such things, insult the Queen or decry the perversions of liberal democracy (though some may). It is that Labour have created such an oppressively secular, anti-Christian context that public bodies have become rabidly politically-correct propagators of the rights of ‘foreigners and minorities’, even when those minorities demand none. There is a surfeit of accommodation, a surplus of toleration, a superfluity of pandering to the imagined whims of the descendents of immigrants who were grateful for the hospitality of our forefathers. This is typically Labour, irredeemably Socialist and culturally Marxist.
The Archbishop’s claims that religion was seen only as something for minorities echoes those of a recent Church report which accused the Government of paying ‘lip service’ to Christianity while ‘focusing intently’ on Muslims.
So when Dr Williams says the Government views ‘religious faith’ as a ‘problem’, he means they tarnish Christianity with the tensions caused by the Islamist in our midst. For Labour to tackle the extremists of Islam, they must be seen to incarnate their creed of ‘equality’ and so ensure that Evangelical Christians are subject to the same monitoring and scrutiny as those who may have beards and brown skin, just in case they decide to strap semtex around their waists and blow themselves to smithereens in the cause of anabaptism.
The Rt Rev Stephen Lowe said: “Religion is seen as being a problem because of the connection between radical Islam and terrorism that has tainted all religions. What seems to be forgotten is the contribution of religion in the mainstream to social action. It’s quite clear that within the Government and the Opposition there are people of faith. The problem is that somehow the connection between what they see as their private faith is allowed to marginalise the significance of the contribution of faith communities to the life of this nation.”
Cranmer is curious that the Archbishop calls on ministers ‘to be more willing to talk about their own beliefs’. It is notable that both Gordon Brown and David Cameron have recently gone out of their way to do so. Dr Williams says: “I don’t think it would do any harm at all. I think part of establishing their human credentials is saying, 'This is where my motivation comes from. I’m in politics because this is what I believe.’ And that includes religious conviction.”
Politicians might do ‘religious’, but they are not too strong on ‘conviction’. At least not while they are in office, and at least if they wish to progress in their political careers.
Politicians in Britain who ‘do God’ are indeed viewed as eccentric oddities.
And if they happen to be Anglican and believe in the foundational tenets of the Established Church and seek to uphold the constitutional position of the Crown and maintain the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law, they might even be accused of bigotry.
And that cry will not come from the Socialist, secularist, the foreigner or the ethnic minority in our midst.