Just up at The New Statesman: Richard has written an open Christmas missive to David Cameron, “Do you get it now, Prime Minister?” It’s about the unholy alliance between the British government and religion, and especially about the divisive nature of faith schools. A snippet:
Token objections to cribs and carols are not just silly, they distract vital attention from the real domination of our culture and politics that religion still gets away with, in (tax-free) spades. There’s an important difference between traditions freely embraced by individuals and traditions enforced by government edict. Imagine the outcry if your government were to require every family to celebrate Christmas in a religious way. You wouldn’t dream of abusing your power like that. And yet your government, like its predecessors, does force religion on our society, in ways whose very familiarity disarms us. Setting aside the 26 bishops in the House of Lords, passing lightly over the smooth inside track on which the Charity Commission accelerates faith-based charities to tax-free status while others (quite rightly) have to jump through hoops, the most obvious and most dangerous way in which governments impose religion on our society is through faith schools – as Rabbi Jonathan Romain reminds us on page 27. . .
. . . A diverse and largely secular country such as Britain should not privilege the religious over the non-religious, or impose or underwrite religion in any aspect of public life. A government that does so is out of step with modern demographics and values. You seemed to understand that in your excellent, and unfairly criticised, speech on the dangers of “multiculturalism” in February this year. Modern society requires and deserves a truly secular state, by which I mean not state atheism, but state neutrality in all matters pertaining to religion: the recognition that faith is personal and no business of the state. Individuals must always be free to “do God” if they wish; but a government for the people certainly should not.
With my best wishes to you and your family for a happy Christmas,
That’s telling him (so long as he reads it).