Dozens of public figures

From a comment

What horrible bullying garbage that is. It’s not a “Christian country”; that’s not a meaningful description, and if it were, the UK still wouldn’t fit it.

Yes, it is.

(Scroll down for Anglican.)

Heads of state government shouldn’t make untrue and coercive statements like that; it others most of the population.

What on earth are you talking about? (Also applies to the “bullying” stuff above?)

I’m not the only one. The Telegraph reports that “Dozens of public figures accuse David Cameron of fostering alienation and division with call to view Britain as a Christian country.”

David Cameron is sowing sectarianism and division by insisting that Britain is still a “Christian country” an alliance of writers, scientists, philophers and politicians has claimed.

In a letter to The Telegraph, 55 public figures from a range of political backgrounds accuse him of fostering “alienation” and actively harming society by repeatedly emphasising Christianity.

The group, which includes writers such as Philip Pullman and Sir Terry Pratchett, Nobel Prize winning scientists, prominent broadcasters and even some comedians argue that members of the elected Government have no right to “actively prioritise” religion or any particular faith.

Let’s check out that letter directly then.

We respect the Prime Minister’s right to his religious beliefs and the fact that they necessarily affect his own life as a politician. However, we object to his characterisation of Britain as a “Christian country” and the negative consequences for politics and society that this engenders.

Apart from in the narrow constitutional sense that we continue to have an established Church, Britain is not a “Christian country”. Repeated surveys, polls and studies show that most of us as individuals are not Christian in our beliefs or our religious identities.

Constantly to claim otherwise fosters alienation and division in our society. Although it is right to recognise the contribution made by many Christians to social action, it is wrong to try to exceptionalise their contribution when it is equalled by British people of different beliefs. This needlessly fuels enervating sectarian debates that are by and large absent from the lives of most British people, who do not want religions or religious identities to be actively prioritised by their elected government.

Sounds fair to me. Cameron is a politician, not a cleric. His job is political, not ecclesiastical.

The signatories:

Professor Jim Al-Khalil
Philip Pullman
Tim Minchin
Dr Simon Singh
Ken Follett
Dr Adam Rutherford
Sir John Sulston
Sir David Smith 
Professor Jonathan Glover
Professor Anthony Grayling
Nick Ross
Virginia Ironside
Professor Steven Rose
Natalie Haynes
Peter Tatchell
Professor Raymond Tallis 
Dr Iolo ap Gwynn 
Stephen Volk
Professor Steve Jones
Sir Terry Pratchett 
Dr Evan Harris
Dr Richard Bartle
Sian Berry
C J De Mooi
Professor John A Lee
Professor Richard Norman
Zoe Margolis
Joan Smith
Michael Gore
Derek McAuley
Lorraine Barratt
Dr Susan Blackmore
Dr Harry Stopes-Roe
Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC
Adele Anderson
Dr Helena Cronin
Professor Alice Roberts
Professor Chris French
Sir Tom Blundell
Maureen Duffy
Baroness Whitaker
Lord Avebury
Richard Herring
Martin Rowson
Tony Hawks
Peter Cave
Diane Munday
Professor Norman MacLean
Professor Sir Harold Kroto
Sir Richard Dalton
Sir David Blatherwick
Michael Rubenstein
Polly Toynbee
Lord O’Neill
Dr Simon Singh
Dan Snow




  1. AsqJames says

    The Maily Telegraph just can’t help themselves can they?

    “The lead signatory Prof Jim Al-Khalili, the Iraqi born physicist and author…”

    Do they note Cliff Richard’s birth place (India) every time he’s mentioned? Don’t be daft, he’s white and he hasn’t got a funny name.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    Did they omit Dawkins on purpose, or was he just too busy twittering to participate?

  3. Maureen Brian says

    You’ll be pleased to know that the letter made the top of the news at 7 a.m. on BBC Today and was instantly followed by a long interview with Peter Tatchell. John Humphrys teased him a bit it wasn’t a hatchet job.

  4. G Wilson says

    Some of our right-wing religionists seem to be looking at US culture-war rhetoric with envy. I don’t think Cameron’s divisiveness was accidental – it was an appeal to the crowd that’s defecting to UKIP because they’re angry about equal marriage, immigration, and religious freedom (for themselves).

    I’d say we’re in for a trend of increasingly obnoxious and illiberal politics, attacking predictable targets like reproductive autonomy.

    Here’s one tory columnist, published in the Times, painting “Jesus” as a role model for rage that might target “the world’s abortion clinics”: This comes not long after Odone’s call for more fist-shaking “like the muslims”:

    Cameron is playing to the Angry Christian vote. Remains to be seen how much this tactical deployment of religious politics encourages our own WBCs or Micheal Brays to start shaking their fists at the rest of us.

  5. exi5tentialist says

    The Tories really don’t care if they win elections. Being in government is a bonus. Their role is to disrupt progressive politics, to agitate and distract attention from reactionary policy, Labour or Tory. To achieve that aim, any publicity is good publicity. The letter is a gift to them.

  6. Shatterface says

    I’ve met Singh and if he signed twice he has a valid mathematical reason for doing so.

    Nice to see Raymond Tallis taking up the issue on the news earlier today. I’m a bit of a fan of his books.

    I’m not sure pointing out Jim Al-Khalili was born in Iraq is as bad as the Telegraph hopes it is: they’re drawing attention to the fact not everyone living and contributing to Britain was born here.


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