Right, let me settle this daft debate for youse by saying that, not only is Britain a Christian country, but it's the best kind of Christian country.
I saw various wags guffawing up their sleeves yesterday, yukking loudly at the irony of folk denying Britain's Christianity on a religious holiday. And you know, they did have a point, but not in the way they'd think.
Almost everyone I've known over the years takes full advantage of e.g. Easter as a break from their decidedly ungodly status as slaves of Mammon to immediately hit the bar and indulge in a shocking array of joyfully sinful behaviour. Drunkenness, fornication, drug abuse, homosexuality and blasphemy are such integral parts of modern British life that a holiday would seem pretty dull without them.
Hell, Christmas these days is just a sappy gift-giving festival where the kids get fun presents, the adults get torn into the sherry, hardly anybody has to go to work and almost everyone gets a lie-in, and ultimately nobody gives a damn about the imperilment of their immortal souls.
And really, you don't even have to be disgusting slob like myself to agree here, whether you spend your spare time hiking up mountains or on the back of a motorbike or just bumming about with the kids, because there ain't nobody up in the church on Sunday except the Poles. The rest of us are free to get on with it however we choose without getting a lot of condemnatory grief, a relatively recent state of affairs.
This is an excellent and possibly unlikely outcome. We get all the holidays and the basic, touchy-feely be-nice-to-each-other-dudes moral philosophy, and none of the Hellfire. I can get right on board with a Christianity that doesn't require sobriety, abstinence, obedience, church attendance or even the faintest trace of actual belief.
And let's be blunt - we owe Christianity a lot for this situation. We owe Jesus Christ personally a huge debt for reworking his own wrathful, vengeance-crazed desert deity into a vague instruction to be nice to each other and to treat our fellow man with a minimum of respect.
We're due Catholicism a huge debt, for creating a massive, tottering edifice of corruption and hypocrisy so astoundingly hilarious that popular revolution against its venality was inevitable. We owe Protestantism even more, for stripping the gospels of every last trace of mystery and uplift, leaving only a glowering, work-based voluntary programme with all the human warmth of a 1960s council car park during an especially cruel November.
The point being, very few of us can possibly take this shit seriously any more, barring perhaps the worst type of scolds and moral flagellants*, and the occasional living saint among us.
Contrary to what most believers would tell you these days, religious belief in the UK is either indulged as a quaint eccentricity, or nervously petted like an adorable but occasionally snappy Shi-Tzu. That's fine by me and if the price of it is occasionally indulging a minority hallucination that a nation of shagging, bevvying, preening, cursing infidels represents the triumph of Christian values I say, Hallelujah brother!
Chuck me a crucifix and crack me open a cold one, so long as I don't have to haul my arse up off the couch.
*Ironically, since it's David Cameron who sparked this round of
poll-humping religiousity, I'd say it's likely that most of the scolds and moral flagellants are going to be Tories. Even more ironically, the Tory leadership are the
worst bunch of Mammon-worshipping, hypocritical, Temple-money-changing
floggers of the poor in the country. Most of the rest of us may be
self-indulgent, prideful and slothful, but if Jesus ever comes back
waving that flaming sword of vengeance, I'm willing to bet CCHQ will be
the first address on his arse-kicking list.