Theresa May is a Christian. It does not really matter that she is a Christian; very few people care that she is the daughter of a Vicar. All that really matters is her ability (which is questionable at times) to do her job, and run this country. With a new controversy every week – especially with the election brewing – it would be reasonable to think that she has better things to do than remind the country of her Christian credentials. It turns out, however, that if you do think this then you are wrong – very wrong indeed.
When the National Trust decided to call their Easter Egg Hunt the ‘Great British Egg Hunt’, the Archbishop of York – John Sentamu – denounced it as ‘tantamount to spitting on the grave’ of John Cadbury (Translation: ‘this was very offensive.’) Even though the Archbishop was clearly getting a little over-excited, his criticism is perhaps understandable for such a prominent Christian leader. What is not understandable is Theresa May’s intercession.
Just before jetting off to Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister May told a journalist that she simply does not ‘know what they’re thinking about’. In earnest she lamented that – as a Christian and a member of the National Trust – she finds the decision ‘absolutely ridiculous.’ Contrast this with PMQs on April 19th, where she refused to denounce certain areas of the press calling certain democratically elected leaders ‘saboteurs’. She did this because of her belief in freedom of the press. Defending freedom is an admirable quality but – according to Theresa May – that should not be extended to a secular organisation. Instead, Christian feelings must be dominant in what is for most – let’s be honest – a secular bank holiday weekend.
Thankfully, Theresa May managed to stay out of Tesco’s Good Friday controversy. ‘Great offers on beer and cider’, boasted the Tesco advert, ‘Good Friday just got better.’ A good laugh, you may think. If you did, how wrong you are. Some Christians whinged that this hurt their feelings, and Reverend Richard Coles tweeted that the advert ‘causes unnecessary offence to many.’ Bowing to the pressure, Tesco apologised for unintentionally offending their Christian customers. You will notice that what is missing here, of course, is an actual argument with any substance as to why the advert should not have been produced. Remind you of anybody?
‘Offensive’ is fast becoming the favourite buzzword of some Christians throughout Britain who are fast becoming the new illiberal ‘snowflakes’. Where it used to be the place of certain Muslims to bitterly complain about feeling offended, it has now fallen to certain Christians to take up this mighty cause. They expect special privileges – a natural enough occurrence when one belongs to a tax-exempt organisation – such as being able to say what they want without criticism.
An example of this can be seen in the curious case of Tim Farron, an Evangelical Christian and leader of the Liberal Democrats. Until recently he refused to clarify whether he thinks that homosexuality is sinful. When people criticised his hypothetical holding of this belief, certain people in the public eye complained that this was unnecessary. ‘He has a right to his personal beliefs,’ they were fond of declaring. Of course Christians must join in public debate but we must simultaneously demand that they are held to the same standards as the rest of us. Every single one of us are expected to justify ourselves, and ‘it’s in the Bible’ is simply not good enough. It is, in fact, tantamount to a scientist believing evolution is true because ‘Darwin wrote about it.’
Christopher Hitchens was not famous for being a huge fan of theism. He was also not a fan of those who demand special privileges. Before his death, he pointed out that ‘in this country, I’ve been told, ‘That’s offensive’ as if these two words constitute an argument or a comment. Not to me they don’t.’ Years later, he would need to change not one word of that. We are, as a society, intolerant of young people who demand their views are endorsed. We care not one bit for the Islamofascists who want us to make concessions. It is about time that we extend the same courtesy to illiberal Christians.