The paper City AM is running a debate in their pages this morning on whether Government should ‘do God’ following on from the Prime Minister’s weird ‘Easter message’ yesterday. Here is my contribution:
Britain is a diverse country where, according to the last major British Social Attitudes Survey, 51% of us describe ourselves as having no religion. 87% of people don’t go to a place of worship on the average week and, although practising religious people of any religion are a minority, we have citizens of an enormous number of religions from Animists to Zoroastrians.
In this context, governments should not ‘do God’ (which God would they do?) any more than they should ‘do atheism’. The role of government in a society that is so diverse is not to privilege and highlight only one religion but to create a space for people of all different beliefs to live together in tolerance. When a Prime Minister talks about ‘we Christians’ he puts that inclusiveness in jeopardy and excludes and alienates many of us from the government of our country.
Although the content of his message was actually pretty anodyne, the fact that the Prime Minster is producing a statement like this at all is extremely worrying. That he is welcoming a ‘fightback’ of Christians against the law is deplorable. Together with his ‘we are a Christian country‘ remarks of last year, it represents another step towards the cultivation of a British religious right.