Grace Dent: Thanks for the Easter message, Dave. But if you’re such a good Christian, why are so many people in Britain using food banks?

I didn’t fall away from religion because of a lummox on an electric guitar

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You may have felt joy in your heart and sung hosanna over the weekend after a Twitter blessing from the increasingly godly David Cameron. “Today is a day for Christians to celebrate,” he tweeted on Easter Sunday, “and for the whole country to celebrate what Christianity brings to Britain.” For some reason – it hasn’t become wholly apparent yet, but I’ll hazard the guess “electoral strategy” – the Prime Minister has started “doing God”. Christians should be “more evangelical” about their faith, he says: “Get out there and make a difference to people’s lives.” Cameron has felt the “healing power” of God and it’s ruddy marvellous.

Obviously it’s all very buttock-clenching and misjudged, as we don’t really “do” God like this in Britain. Not like they do it in America. If you want this difference hammered home, try watching Mary J Blige at a British mega-arena and see how long she can waffle on between tracks about the Good Lord in all his Glory giving her the power to sing before you get a great urge to heckle, “Oi, pet, I’ve paid £120 to hear you sing ‘No More Drama’. Get a shift on!” In Britain – by and large – we’re tolerant of any individual’s religion, so long as they do it on their own time and aren’t too much of a pain.

But Cameron’s Easter Sunday message and it’s timing was particularly poignant for me as it reminded me why I fell away from the church completely some years ago, despite being raised Methodist, Sunday-schooled, “confirmed” to take the sacraments and educated for seven years at a C of E primary, where many a long, rainy, northern dinner-break was spent indoors, dutifully painting giant murals of a depressed Christ on a cross having his lips dampened with vinegar by Mary Magdalene.

I didn’t fall away from religion because a lot of the Bible sounds like a pseudo-Dungeons and Dragons board game, or even because of the advance of very terrible “Christian praise” songs where some local lummox with an electric guitar honks through some piffle he wrote at home in a sub-Coldplay manner. Or even because of those oddballs who fling their hands in the air or weep during sermons, or the ones who rampage about bear-hugging people during “the passing of the peace”. No, what drew me away from religion – and cheers, David, for your Easter Sunday reminder – is the plain, old-fashioned, brass-necked hypocrisy of many Christians.

Because if Cameron is a Christian I won’t need to remind him that the most basic infant-school teachings about Jesus hammer home the belief about unconditional benevolence and compassion. It is all about kindness, feeding the hungry, being kind to the sick and anyone worse off than you. The important word here is “unconditional”.  Christianity is the opposite of looking at a starving person and saying: “I could help but you’ve not got form 378a signed, sorry.” Or: “Yes I see you’re starving but shall we have a think about the life-choices you made to get here?” Or: “Look, if I give you food now it’s not a long-term solution, so no.”

If Cameron was to borrow a “Jesus for Dummies” style book from the library, the opening chapters would possibly cover one of Christ’s big crowd-pleasing acts: the feeding of the 5,000. Here, Jesus – yes the same one that Cameron believes in –  apparently fed thousands of hungry people, summoning up some sort of Godly spirit to make meagre rations stretch far. A crucial bit of Christianity, that. If you don’t believe that the hungry should be fed unconditionally because all human life is important, and in fact they should starve, then – quite bluntly – you’re not a Christian, so shut up about being one.

On the same day as Cameron was doling out his Godly blessing, a right-leaning newspaper was exposing a “depressing” example of Broken Britain where it found that, if a reporter appears at a food bank purposefully clad in sack cloth and ashes (or, in his case, a scraggy jumper and three day stubble) and telling a tale about having messed up on fuel bills and his wife having no money and his kids going hungry, then the Trussell Trust will give a man a bag of rice, oil, baked beans, cheap biscuits and so on without the correct paperwork. Sounds like Christianity in action to me. But I doubt whether Edwina Curry, Lord Tebbit, Iain Duncan Smith or the plethora of Tories who deride food banks so regularly would agree.

Cameron’s party policy on feeding people and his belief in the teachings of Jesus are utterly at odds. Perhaps the PM should volunteer for a week at a food bank, feeding the poor in a Christian manner, to shed some light on the dilemma? As an agnostic, I almost pray for a Second Coming of Christ, just to see Cameron have to face him and squirm.

Please! Enough of the Georgie Porgie

During the recent royal tour of Australia and New Zealand, I have been curious as to whom the constant torrent of speculative piffle over Will and Kate’s tourist jaunt is actually aimed at.

Who is this easily fascinated imbecile who wakes each morning and types “WILL AND KATE OZ” into Google, only to feast on a glut of slack-jawed observations about Baby George’s rattle-holding style, Kate’s ovaries, Will’s smalltalk and which LK Bennett frock is currently on display?

I am not an overly violent woman, but for the good of our collective intellects we need to find this person and destroy them. Or, alternatively, state-fund them to travel with Will and Kate so none of the rest of us need to be bothered.

‘Faux Farah’  makes me proud

In last week’s column I made a list of things that made me “somewhat proud” to be British.

Now, I must add to this roll-call of righteousness London Marathon super-hero Jason Scotland-Williams, a personal trainer who completed the course in a magnificent 3 hours and 8 minutes! Faster than Mo Farah!

In fact, Jason’s overall result was twice as fast as his effort last year. And – even more amazingly – Jason completed the second half of the race in less than half the time it took to run the first half.

So I am somewhat proud of Jason’s utter incredulity over claims that he cheated and jumped a barrier. And I’ll even stretch to “very proud” of whoever came up with the nickname “Faux Farrah”.

Twitter: @gracedent

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