Unlike Pontius Pilate, ministers can’t wash their hands of the persecution of Christians.
I like Michael Gove. He is an intelligent and principled man. His reforms to our nation’s schools, promoting academic rigour and returning to synthetic phonics, are sensible and popular with parents.
So I was pleased to hear that he had written a piece for this week’s Spectator defending Christians in our country.
I was less pleased at his utter lack of contrition, for it beggars belief that Mr Gove, who has been at the heart of a Government that has sneered at Christians, should now try to become a flag waver for them.
Anyone would think that there is an election in the offing!
For the truth is that this Government has an appalling record when it comes to defending Christians and Christianity, both domestically and aboard.
British foreign policy under William Hague has been risible. It has repeatedly failed to raise or take action against systematic eradication of Christian communities around the world.
100,000 believers dying for their faith every year of the last decade, more than a million in total, with many more facing violence, harassment and imprisonment.
No doubt Mr Hague would argue that this is a job for the whole of the international community, so let’s look at a more specific policy failure, the mishandling of the “Syria situation”.
Just a few months ago the UK, US and France wanted to arm and support insurgents in that country in bringing down the Assad regime. The Whitehall term was “degrade the regime’s military infrastructure”.
This triumvirate ignored the fact that the insurgents were already beating and harassing Christians in that country, which succeeded in driving all of the Coptic Christians into the arms of Assad. Astonishingly, had it not been for the tactics of the international bully Valdimir Putin, we would have handed the key to Syria to Islamic State.
Equally as troubling has been the failure to react to Boko Haram. The Foreign Office response to the murder of innocent Christians in Nigeria by this vile Islamist mob has been to threaten with cuts the UK aid-funded education and health programmes over a failure to promote gay marriage.
Unsurprisingly, this issue was raised at a recent General Synod meeting. One representative challenged the Archbishop of Canterbury to deny reports that threats had been made to UK-supported programmes that didn’t promote gay marriage. The response from Archbishop Welby was less than convincing.
The picture at home is no less troubling. The introduction of the so called “British values” agenda has done little to tackle extremism, but has given carte blanche to the forces of political correctness to target Christian and Jewish schools, attacking them for their traditional beliefs.
One example of this educational lunacy involves a small Christian school in Reading, which was downgraded for not having other religious leaders such as an imam leading their Christian assemblies. Ofsted Inspectors had previously rated the school good.
And Grindon Hall School in Sunderland; this Christian school tops the area’s A-level league table and was the runner up for GCSEs. Yet despite its outstanding academic achievements, it was downgraded by Government inspectors because those attending didn’t know what “lesbians do” and had failed to celebrate festivals from other religions- even though legally there is no requirement to for the school to do this.
And it’s not just Christian schools that have felt the full force of the State’s PC apparatus.
Under David Cameron’s Government, lawyers were briefed to oppose the British Airways worker Nadia Eweida, who refused to remove a small cross she wore. The case ended in the European Court of Human Rights, despite the PM telling Parliament that he supported her right to wear a cross.
They also opposed Christians in three other discrimination cases, including registrar Lillian Ladele.
Now to top this off, a Government-funded quango is taking legal action against Northern Ireland company the Ashers Bakery for refusing to produce a cake bearing a pro gay marriage message for a political campaign group. The £30 cake, which was purchased from a nearby baker, looks set to cost the taxpayer around £40,000 in legal fees and the family who runs the bakery a similar amount. Does this not defy commonsense?
And while it would be harsh to say that the Cameron-led Government has been worse to Christians than the previous 13 years of Labour, day by day this has become a more difficult argument to make.
So you’re absolutely right Mr Gove, Christian’s are being persecuted, but your Government must share in the blame and any attempt by ministers to wash their hands of it like Pontius Pilate must be dismissed as nothing more that political posturing.