[Update at end of post]
The all too predictable assault on supposed “secularism” from the obedient hackery of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre has continued, via an encouragement to readers to “Have Your Say” on the subject of “Militant Atheist” Richard Dawkins, and has now engaged the services of The Queen in its campaign. But all is, as with so many Mail headlines, not what it seems.
“Christianity is ‘under-appreciated’: Queen’s staunch defence of a traditional faith under increasing attack after prayer ban ruling” thunders the eponymous Daily Mail Reporter, thus telling readers exactly what to think, and confirming what Nick Davies concluded in Flat Earth News, that “Dacre kills with headlines”. The problem here is that what The Queen said doesn’t match the bluster.
Her Majesty was speaking at a multi-faith (as in “not just Christian”) reception at Lambeth Palace. And what she said bears relating in full: “Here at Lambeth Palace we should remind ourselves of the significant position of the Church of England in our nation’s life ... The concept of our established Church is occasionally misunderstood and, I believe, commonly under-appreciated ... Its role is not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country”.
So The Queen did not say that “Christianity” was “under-appreciated”. She said that the concept of the established Church was under-appreciated. There are other strands of Christianity – Catholicism and more rigorous Protestantism, for instance – that are not part of the established Church.
Moreover, she also emphasised the duty of that established Church to “protect the free practice of all faiths”. So that’s a duty to protect the followers of Judaism, Buddhism, and yes, Islam to practice their chosen faith. And by inference, it’s also a duty to tolerate those of other faiths, or who have no faith.
And what The Queen’s comments are nothing to do with are the actions of former Councillor Clive Bone, whose action meant that his local council in Bideford could not make prayer a minuted part of their meetings, although the Mail has put Bone’s photo in the article and inferred that this would mean the potential end of the Coronation Oath (this last is complete rot).
The article is an illustration of the desperate lengths to which Dacre and his hacks will go in order to push their “Christianity under attack” agenda. Not only does there have to be the usual why-oh-why and victimhood bluster, but there also has to be a clumsy co-opting of The Queen, who they well know is not likely to speak out and correct them. This is a truly barrel scraping act.
Small wonder, then, that no hack would put their name to it. It’s not good enough.
[UPDATE 16 February: even the Express, characteristically coming to the story a day late, has managed a decently balanced headline, with "Queen: Why The Church's Role Is Misunderstood", which reflects what was said, rather than what the editor's agenda would like to have been said.
Sadly, though, the piece does stray close to going gaga on occasion as it quotes George Carey apparently saying that "homosexual rights trump religious rights", which is an interesting way of justifying homophobia. Sayeeda Warsi also gets a mention for her ridiculous "militant secularisation". Heck, if only there were more "militant secularists", there would be none of that political party in-fighting, less protests and demonstrations, and very little terrorism]