Britons should be “more confident of our status as a Christian nation”.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

If a church leader said this, I could just about forgive the naivety. After all, us God-fearing types are supposed to cut each other some slack.

But the man who did say it, prime minister David Cameron, ought to know better. For Britain is not a Christian nation.

What did you do yesterday to remember the crucifixion of the Son of God? And what will you do tomorrow to celebrate His resurrection?

Most people will have worshipped the great god of DIY, gone for a walk, watched a Bank Holiday film or gorged on chocolate. Hot cross buns are available all year round. And most of us munch them with no clue of what they signify.

In truth, if we all meditated on the bloody crucifixion of Jesus while nibbling a bun, we’d rapidly lose our appetite.

There are, of course, the hardy few who will be genuinely moved by the significance of the Easter season.

But the truth is, Britain is a secular nation.

There are probably more ginger people in total than true Christians. But nobody would suggest Britain is a “ginger nation”. Nor would they say we’re a nation of people who wear double-denim. Mr Cameron is right that Christianity can make a positive difference to society: take the Christian-led food banks, which are keeping many people from starvation in this “Christian” nation of ours.

But his brand of Christianity has a small “c”. For he cheerfully admits to occasional church attendance, sporadic prayer and no real day-to-day experience of living close to God. It’s “insurance policy faith”: doing your bit to keep in God’s good books, just in case He does exist. And there is a hint of cynicism about what he said – for he knows that many voters will welcome his wishy-washy words as they live in daily fear of the foreign demons taking over Blighty with their strange religions and unfamiliar food.

The big problem is that he is perpetuating a myth that keeps us all in dangerous complacency.

While we kid ourselves that we are a Christian nation, it enables us to slide further away from what that should mean in reality.

Real Christianity changes people’s hearts and behaviour and has a positive impact on communities.

Mr Cameron’s version is an empty, meaningless platitude.

• While David Cameron is kidding himself while winning a few cheap votes, a former Norwich City footballer is closing in on becoming a Roman Catholic priest.

It gives me the chance to roll out a few cheap puns.

Phil Mulryne has gone from crossing the ball to crossing himself. Mulryne steps up to take the penalty – but Jesus saves.

I could go on. But I have ringing in my ears, the echo of my children saying “you’re not funny, dad”.

Anyway, the story of the soon-to-be Father Mulryne illustrates the difference between Mr Cameron’s belief and others’ faith.

And it shows how fame, fortune and adulation do not ultimately satisfy – a truth that the current X-Factor generation would do well to take on board.

Mulryne learnt his trade with David Beckham at Manchester United, and went on to be very well paid and much admired during a successful spell at Norwich City.

But he still yearned for something more, something truly meaningful. His chosen path is unusual for a former footballer. But he is not alone as a sportsman in discovering that the trappings of success can feel like emptiness.

You only have to consider the number of footballers and cricketers who have turned to drink or gambling, or have battled depression.

Mulryne’s choice will baffle many people. And he does look a bit odd in his cassock – especially to those who are accustomed to seeing him in a green and yellow football kit.

But, with big money and fleeting glory behind him, I’d bet he’ll be a lot happier.

6 comments

  • God will always love you Steve so calm down dear. He gave his only son,to understand his love for you and David Cameron who has share of family suffering.Happy Easter

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    PaulH

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • Faith, Hope and Charity are not just names. Faith is what Christians have, hope too given by the Resurrection and charity in abundance through selfless acts of giving. Mr. Downes,your response?

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    bedoomed

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • Great Britain is a Christian nation. The Queen is the Head of State and the Head of the Anglican Church. Whether the people are Christian is another matter. I am and so is my entire family but I wouldn't be surprised if many are not, not even espousing any religion at all. That's their problem but the country's state remains established, one of the few countries in the world where this is the case.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    alecto

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • Lynton Crosby has Cameron on strings.He can see some of the more traditional Conservatives drifting To Ukip,due,in part,to the issue of gay marriage,which many traditionalists saw as step too far,including Cameron's own mother.It looks like blatant politikking in the guise of religion,too blatant to do him anything other than harm.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • If its a life style choice to become Christian, why are so many Children indoctrinated, against their will, before being able to make a choice? Should religious education and learning about many religions not be reserved for fifth and sixth formers, at an age when they are able to differentiate between these religious choices?

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • Why does the writer pick on 'gingers'? As a minority group they surely deserve to be left alone. Ginger is what some folk are born to be. Christianity, on the other hand, which should not be used as a political tool, is a lifestyle choice. Just a pity that so few choose it.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    peter waller

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Norfolk Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 12°C

min temp: 8°C

Five-day forecast

loading...

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT