WE ARE a Christian country,” proclaims bandwagon-boarder Dave Cameron, accidental PM.
To which the only reply, in true panto fashion, is: “Oh no we’re not!”
But first, Dave’s attitude towards a real Christian, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is on a par with Henry II’s towards Rowan’s illustrious predecessor Thomas Becket.
Henry moaned: “Oh who will free me from this turbulent priest?” – and we’ve all seen the movie with Burton and O’Toole, so we know what happened next. Into Canterbury Cathedral clattered the cavalry, four armoured knights brandishing broadswords, and Thomas got the chop.
I’ll bet Dave feels the same way about the turbulent priest who had the temerity to criticise government policies bringing misery to millions. But as he can hardly send a couple of backbench bruisers round to rough up Rowan, he does it the politician’s way: a bit of snide bad-mouthing.
Back to Dave’s Christmas message: “We are a Christian country.” Very pertinent at a time of year when we celebrate the birth of the founder of the entire multi-billion-pound industry, which is what religion is these days. But does our PM actually know what he’s talking about?
“The Bible,” he says, “has given Britain a set of values and morals which makes Britain what it is today. Values and morals we should actively stand up and defend.”
Does he mean the values and morals of the Old Testament, a catalogue of horror and brutality with a vengeful and appalling deity ordering massacres, genocide, child sacrifice and slavery, while visiting plagues, floods, fire and brimstone on those dissing his authority?
Or the New Testament, which begins with the Nativity? Or at least begins with the Nativity in two of the four Gospels that got past the priestly censors long ago.
Only Matthew tells us of the virgin birth, three wise men, the star and Herod’s slaughter of the innocents. Luke does shepherds and manger but no star or wise men. Nothing at all in Mark and John, which is odd since this birth is considered the most earth-shaking event in history.
If, of course, there was such a birth.
But you can’t say that, can you? This time last year the Rev John Davies, of the Brecon and Swansea diocese, announced that “one of the great fallacies perpetrated by aggressive atheists is that our faith is without foundation, that it’s all made up”. No, he said, “Christianity is rooted in the experience of real people, living witnesses whose words were distilled and detailed into the stories we possess and treasure.”
What living witnesses? The Nativity story was written by men born long after Christ’s death and was “distilled” from numerous earlier myths.
A dozen gods from Horus and Hermes to Mithras were born of virgins in stables or caves and all showed miraculous powers from babyhood – Hercules strangled a giant snake invading his cradle, and he was only a demi-god.
So the Christmas we’re looking forward to is simply a steal from the pagans’ winter solstice, celebrating the birth of the sun god a thousand years before Christ was born.
The Nativity – fact or fiction? No writer of the relevant period comments on the odd behaviour of the Gospel’s stop-start star, surely of worldwide interest.
No Roman writer mentions the census that allegedly took Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. Herod died four years before the miraculous birth, so where does that leave the massacre of the innocents?
Christianity is based on four contradictory gospels, meaning that faith, not facts, is essential for the survival of belief in what is impossible.
Impossible? Only 60 years ago Pope Pius XII made an infallible pronouncement that the Virgin Mary had risen bodily into heaven. Faith trumps facts.
Consider the history of Christianity, then ask Cameron exactly which values and morals we should defend. Has he forgotten past persecutions, burnings, massacres of Jews and Muslims, the torture and executions all in the name of Christ?
How moral were the genocides in the Americas, the Crusades or, in later years, the exhortation “kill a Commie for Christ”?
Christian values brought 300 years of killings in Northern Ireland.
Christian morality meant death for uncountable numbers in Aids-stricken Africa because of a Vatican fatwah against contraception.
In America, zealots who murder abortion clinic doctors are applauded for their Christian morality.
If there ever was a baby Jesus, and if he could see how the religion based on his birth has become perverted to justify all kinds of evil, he’d wonder whether the whole pantomime – the only word – has been worth it.
Meanwhile, Happy Christmas.
Wales Online | Dan O’Neill | 21st December 2011