Michael Gove need not worry. We’re still a very Christian country.

Christian self-pity about a secular Britain is rubbished by official deference to religion

Michael Gove holy


April is the cruelest month for Michael Gove, judging by his cover story in the Spectator. Not only do his fellow Christians have to mark the death of their saviour Jesus Christ over Easter, but they have to endure ‘pity, condescension and cool dismissal’ from the rest of British society.

The Tory chief whip and former education secretary’s article, (the first in a possible return to journalism after the election), argues that Christianity is looked down upon in modern Britain and subject to a wave of mild hostility that overlooks its deep value. As he puts it:

“The contrast between the Christianity I see our culture belittle nightly, and the Christianity I see our country benefit from daily, could not be greater.”

(Gove spent last week trying to sneak a motion through parliament to unseat the speaker of the house. I’m not sure which Christian values were motivating him on that occasion. Perhaps something to do with separating the goats from the sheep?)

The argument itself was addressed well by comedian Robin Ince last year in response to a more extreme version of it by the the Telegraph’s Christine Odone. While the meat of Gove’s piece is standard Christian apologetics – Christianity is the basis of western civilization, Christians have done moral things etc. – the newspapers have scooped it up with glee.

But on the same page (page 2) as the Telegraph ran ‘Gove: Christians in the UK are cowed’ is a story of a row between the Church of England and David Cameron, with the prime minister at pains to show how Christian he is.

As the second story reports, writing in a magazine called Premier Christianity, our own premier looked to soothe tensions with the Church over his social policies, after it roundly criticised them in a 50-page booklet (for which the church was slammed as ‘left-wing’ by the Tory press). Cameron insisted that, while the Church might disagree with his policies, this doesn’t mean they are devoid of ‘moral content’:

“I’m an unapologetic supporter of the role of faith in this country. […] in the toughest of times, my faith has helped me move on and drive forward. […]

“the Christian message is the bedrock of a good society.”

In other words, the head of government is debating social policy with the established church in public, in terms of its adherence to Christian values.

Though it’s true the only prophet he cites is Winston Churchill, and there is an election coming up, the PM has spoken like this before. In his Easter message last year, Cameron spoke of the ‘peace and guidance’ he derives from his Christian faith, saying his big society ethos was invented by Jesus 2,000 years ago, and referring to the Bethlehem babe as ‘our savior’.

The curious pairing of the two stories comes as the government overrides a High Court decision to pass legislation allowing for councils to open meetings with prayer as part of their official business. Or as local government secretary Eric Pickles phrased it last April:

“I’ve stopped an attempt by militant atheists to ban councils having prayers at the start of meetings if they wish,” said Pickles.

“Heaven forbid. We’re a Christian nation. We have an established church. Get over it. And don’t impose your politically correct intolerance on others.”

Got that? Then there’s the Queen, supreme governor of the Church of England and defender of the faith, (prohibited by law from being a Catholic), who in 2012, the year of her diamond jubilee, met with representatives from nine (count them) ‘faith communities’, to expound the virtues of the Church as protector of ‘all the faiths in this country’:

“Our religions provide critical guidance for the way we live our lives and for the way in which we treat each other.

“[…] we should remind ourselves of the significant position of the Church of England in our nation’s life.”

As the Reverend Pickles rightly says, we have an established church, headed by the Queen, who is also head of state. Seats are reserved for Anglican bishops in the upper chamber of parliament, the House of Lords, as a right, where they can propose, scrutinise and pass legislation that binds the whole country, regardless of conscience. The Church makes public interventions in debates over policy, without any accountability to the public. Politicians from the prime minister to secretaries of state enforce the elevated role of religion with the law.

And while these statements and articles betray anxiety about the increasingly secular nature of British society, with 25 per cent of people ticking ‘no religion’ in the last census, it remains the case that religion in general, and Christianity in particular, still hold a position of incredible privilege – however embarrassed Christians feel about their faith.

Happy Easter bank holiday.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

90 Responses to “Michael Gove need not worry. We’re still a very Christian country.”

  1. Badjumbly

    If our society were not functional, you would not be posting that comment.

    The question posed, by the way, was “What are we going to do about ISLAM?”.

  2. Bluesman1950

    “Lol at your “us” (accounts) slip.”

    I still have no idea what you are on about.

    I have no faith, that’s what being an atheist means.

  3. sam

    Other user name? Leon, stop accusing others of using the trickery only a true master like you possess.

  4. steroflex

    Adam you are looking in the wrong place. Charles Moore in the Telegraph this Saturday is the place to look for a real Christian apologetic which, frankly, puts your rather traditional little offering in the shade.

    PS This is just an ignorant remark: Christians do not “mark the death of their saviour Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday,”

  5. steroflex

    Define “religious”.

  6. Guest

    I use one username. One, period. I am not responsible for your ignorance (i.e. how to make comments appear as guest), as you use your multiple usernames, Joe, then try and treat me as an idiot.

    You keep falsely claiming that you don’t preach your hate, as ever, as you try and falsely conflate faith and religion.

  7. Leon Wolfeson

    Nice circular logic there.

  8. Guest

    So you don’t think I should be able to post. Right, Stormbringer.

    And yes, right, what will you do to those people, who are Muslim. With an excuse to try and push it away from dealing with people.

  9. Guest


    Same old, Lord Blagger, same old.

  10. Guest

    “and they are all wrong (except one) according …you”.

    Which is a very Christian view. In fact, many polytheistic religions have no problem with each other.

  11. littleoddsandpieces

    The Church of England is the formal Christian UK state that parliament is within.

    But Christianity is the majority faith on the planet and growing.

    In the UK, the majority of Christians are not English nor Celt, but foreign in origin or birth.

    So the persecution of Christians in the UK is racist, as most are not white.

    There are even Arab and Asian and Middle Eastern Christians, older than any Christian denomination in Europe.

    Charities have been gagged by law and by government against the starvation caused by welfare reform.

    Only the Christian Church is protesting the starvation of the poor, who are mostly in work.

    With worse yet to come.

    Half of the food banks are Christian.

    Sikh temples are feeding locals desperate enough to go into the temple to seek a bowl of food.

    Will Hindu and Moslem temples do the same as we wait for the big parties to go extinct from lack of voting?

    Schools are feeding the starving kids.

    GPs talking amongst themselves about the rise of Rickets, the hunger symptom, not monitored by the government,

    Neither is the state monitoring the huge rise in malnutrition hospital admissions said by the doctors again and again

    This is Easter, the resurrection, the hope.

    No political part in the media eye cares less about the poor nor can be described as Christian, nor would they have been by Jesus Christ who did care about the poor.

    Matthew 25:35

    For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

    Isaiah 58:10

    If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.

    James 2:14-18

    What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

    Proverbs 28:27

    Whoever gives to the poor will not want, but he who hides his eyes will get many a curse.

    Proverbs 14:31

    Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.

    John 6:35

    Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

    Matthew 25:37-40

    Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

    Proverbs 31:20

    She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.


    Christianity is fastest growing in China.

    Putin in Russia goes to Christian church.

    Even Lenin said British socialism was dogma, an ossified Marxism.

    Do not denounce faith.

    But come into power and feed and clothe the hungry.

    The parties of the poor need to break out of the silence in the blogs and starting posting in them, to give brand awareness.

    There is no such thing as a small party.

    Voting for small parties is voting big, as small parties have the biggest influence in UK history, and the poor now outnumber all other voters.


  12. Wackford.

    …and many more relish knocking 7 bells out of each other, even within the same religion, Christianity included. You not noticed that?

  13. Guest

    I think you’re not quite aware what polytheism is.

    Christianity isn’t, even with their “Trinity” concept.

  14. Wackford.

    I am fully aware of what it means. How many are there currently who worship multiple deities? I was more concerned with the religions who, although they profess to worship the same “God”, are prepared to slaughter each other because they have, for example, a different messenger.

  15. Guest

    So you’re ignoring what I typed. Right. You keep talking to yourself then.

    And yes, I’m worried about the far right.

  16. Bluesman1950

    Well, Joe ‘Guest’ Leon Wolfeson, I always post as Bluesman1950, never anything else. You may know how to post under other names. Maybe you can hotwire a car too. I have never had the need to do either.

    Your powers of imagination extend not only to believing in non-existent beings, but also to believing that I am more than one person. No, no holy trinity, or even duality for me, just Bluesman1950.

    Pointing out the silliness of religion and asking that it is not used to justify persecution is not preaching hate, as much as you may hate hearing another point of view.

  17. Wackford.

    So am I. Try not to lecture. Right.

  18. Guest

    So you’re inventing a “Joe” in your mind, as you make an unbelieveable claim, given your usage of the same old insults. Then you call me a criminal, right.

    What a surprise.

  19. Guest

    No, being a member of is not “worried about”, FYI. And you say you’re not reading other people’s posts? Thanks for that – you won’t reply to what I said then will you?

  20. Bluesman1950

    You started the Joe nonsense. When did I call you a criminal? The paranoia is strong in your posts, even if nothing else is.

    If you can’t makes some sense I’ll just ignore you from now on Leon

  21. Guest

    No, Joe/Bluesman, calling you by your username is not “nonsense”, as you call reading your posts “paranoia”, as you claim that your other username is not you, and that unless I start chanting your hate you’ll run away as usual and use another username, right right.

    Same old, same old.

    Never changes.

  22. Wackford.

    ? Where did say I was not reading other people’s posts? You will have to explain the first sentence ?????

  23. Bluesman1950

    OK Leon. You carry on believing what you want to. There is no point trying to get any sense out of you.

  24. Guest


    Ah, you’re a Lord Blagger ID. Keep talking to Joe, another username/personality of yours.

    I’ll stick with the facts, as ever. Shame you won’t, but it IS your choice.

  25. Guest

    You said you didn’t bother reading, didn’t bother “taking on board” other people’s posts, of course, and I’m not here to explain basic English.. Take more ESOL lessons.

  26. LG Morgan

    i can count the church goers i know on one hand, and i’m no recluse! How does that equate to being a christian country? I know more druids & shamen, wiccan and pagans than christians, although they were around long before the christianity folklore came about. Im surprised christianity hasn’t been sued for plagiarism, considering the old virgin birth at christmas time story has been around for thousands of years longer than christianity, but faith seems to hold more sway than logic whenever religion is mentioned. If I turned up with lord of the rings and started preaching from it, how many followers would i get?

  27. Wackford.

    NO.I didn’t mention not reading. What I said was “I was not aware that I had to take on board “what you typed””…YOU. Not OTHER PEOPLE’S posts. YOURS!!!. To take on board………………….”to understand and accept ideas and opinions which may change the way you behave in the future” I don’t have to be persuaded by what you say. It may be hard for you to accept but there may be people on this planet who don’t agree with you. Now go and chew the cud elsewhere.

  28. Leon Wolfeson

    So now you’re making excuses for your posts. As you try and de-link reading from understanding the content of.

    Unlike you, I am quite willing to admit people have other views (and are not, gasp, mentally ill to do so!) – you are not, as your attempts to silence me by abusing a monty python show. (No copyright for you, etc.)

    You’re “twigging” to your same old agenda, Lord Blagger, i.e. continuing the Jihad.

  29. Wackford.

    I think you are not well.

  30. David Cromie

    It would be a refreshing change to have some facts from such as you, instead of the diversionary tactics, and your penchant for others of propagating hate when you are the true spreaders of hate and bigotry.

  31. Leon Wolfeson


    Right, thanks Lord Blagger. Same old.

  32. Guest


    Yes, keep saying that, Lord Blagger.

  33. Bluesman1950

    Guest replying to Guest Leon? You can bend over more than most!

  34. Guest

    No, I don’t have your fetishes. Your confusion over different people using a basic disqus function is not my issue, Lord Blagger.

  35. David Cromie

    I think you are confusing me with someone else. Where have I ever said that “JEWS ARE THE TRUE SPREADERS OF HATE AND BIGOTRY”?

  36. Guest

    In your post, right there, Lord Blagger, making it twice in a row here. You’re so predictable in your hate for me for what I am.

    And no, not being fooled.

  37. David Cromie

    Are you demented? Asking a question is not the same as making a statement!

  38. David Cromie

    Where would religion be without faith, since religion is predicated upon the unproven existence of a supposed ‘god’?

  39. Tom

    I really wonder if the people who continually write these kinds of articles ever actually think about the arguments they rehearse in them. As counter-arguments, you offer a series of bland statements about legislative and constitutional procedure.

    But you have nothing to say about the reality many people face ‘on the ground’, which is all together more important. The children being bullied at school don’t care a jot about the agenda of local council meetings. The House of Lords is irrelevant to people who are marginalised and ignored by their work colleagues, and who are made to feel as though they cannot talk about the very thing that animates their daily life.

    This, it seems to me, should be something that supposedly left-wing people should care about. Otherwise you’re offering nothing more than an insipid liberalism. And we’ve plenty of that already.

  40. What to expect from Michael Gove's new column a the Times | Left Foot Forward

    […] went on to say Christianity was being sidelined in an increasingly secular Britain. As I wrote at the time, Christianity has a privileged place in British life, from politics to education. But Gove stuck […]

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