As if to show that he has grabbed hold of the wrong end of the response to Young Dave’s affirmation of Christianity – part looking to offload even more of the welfare burden on the church, part trying to claw back voters unhappy about same-sex marriage – the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre has decreed that anyone opposing the Cameron line is to be given a good kicking.
What's f***ing wrong with kicking atheists, c***?!? Er, with respect, of course, Mr Jay
So it should surprise no-one to see the Daily Mail going after those criticising the PM: “'Britain IS a Christian country - and we respect that': Hindu, Muslim and Sikh leaders back the PM after 'militant atheists' tell him to keep quiet on religion ... Celebrity atheists wrote open letter criticising David Cameron for calling Britain a Christian country” thunders the carefully crafted headline.
Those who signed the letter to the Maily Telegraph are dismissed as “The Celebrity Anti-God Squad”, although the calibre of the Mail’s spiritual talking heads has to be in doubt after they fall back on former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, the rent-a-quote face of the “Christianity under attack” brigade, as a reliable witness. And it can’t be a Christian country if Christians are being marginalised.
But this is a minor blip on the radar, as Dacre also calls on the services of Stephen “Miserable Git” Glover, who declares “This new breed of militant atheists are as intolerant as any religious fundamentalists”. What’s “militant” about someone who has done nothing more than sign a letter to the Telegraph? Ah, but Polly Toynbee is somehow involved. And she’s an Obligatory Daily Mail Hate Figure.
Glover really lets rip: “furious letter ... metropolitan liberal atheists ... astonishingly intolerant ... divisive ... angry letter-writers ... at least some of the signatories are zealots ... new breed of militant atheists ... unreasoning ... intolerance ... anti-religion diehards ... unhinged ... unceasing hatred of religion ... dishonest little letter ... atheistical zealot”. As Sir Sean nearly said, I think we got the point.
One commenter who responded to Glover’s tirade mused “A letter to the Telegraph doesn't seem very militant to me”. This is true, but misses the point: anyone not showing sufficient respect to organised religion – which is what Dacre has decreed is A Good Thing – has to be ritually smeared pour encourager les autres. And over at the Tel, Charles Moore has chimed in agreement.
Moore wibbles on about “Prof Jim Al-Khalili, who led the signatures, derives his first name from an apostle of Jesus, as do his co-signatories the novelist Philip Pullman and the anti-religious fanatic Peter Tatchell, who is named, ultimately, after the first Pope”, and thus adds sweet jack to the discussion. But this is symptomatic of the bile the right-wing press will dump on anyone questioning reliance on religion.
Speak out of turn and Dacre will come after you. Not that he’s a bully, of course.