Mark Steel: If religion is 'marginal', I'm the Pope

Baroness Warsi is clearly committed to making religion look ridiculous
  • @mrmarksteel

If you're going to complain that religion is becoming "marginal", as Baroness Warsi did yesterday, it's genius to do it when you're a member of the Cabinet on a visit to the Pope. Maybe Warsi said to him, "For example, your Holiness, look how these days you're tucked away in a backstreet in Rome which hardly even shows up on the A to Z."

It was the same when the Pope came here, where religion is now so marginal he had to slip in and out with barely a mention. His publicity team must have despaired, unable to get him any exposure at all, not even in Dictionary Corner on Countdown or as the answer to "Which one is the real Pope?" in a line-up on Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

Luckily, there was a brief period of two days when the centres of Birmingham and London were entirely shut so that the Popemobile could poodle through the streets, and it was shown on every single TV channel all day long. But after that, the Pope wasn't even shortlisted for Sports Personality of the Year, he received not one award at the Brits, and nor was he granted a 20-minute trolley dash round Debenhams. That can only be as a result of lobbying from atheist bullies. As if to confirm this, Baroness Warsi was only allowed to take three other members of the Government on her official trip to the Pope, whereas every day dozens of Cabinet members travel the world for diplomatic trips to the world's atheists.

Only a few dozen bishops are allowed to sit in the House of Lords, even though they're clearly qualified to make our laws on account of the fact they believe in God, whereas any old humanist is welcome to wander into parliament and make up any law they fancy whenever they please.

Songs of Praise is only on once a week, while every day there's a programme in which people sing agnostic hymns, such as "The Lord is my shepherd, or he's not, There isn't a way we can tell. I'm hedging my bets, say it might all be rot, But if not I won't burn in hell".

And the head of state, the Queen, may be head of the Church of England, but she spends far more time in her constitutional role as secretary of the Richard Dawkins Fan Club, dissecting fossils for further proof of evolution.

Dawkins himself was on the Today programme yesterday, publicising a survey that, he says, proves that most people who say they're Christians aren't Christians because they couldn't answer questions about The Bible. He then collapsed into a magnificent tangle when he couldn't remember the full title of Darwin's book on natural selection.

So there's only one conclusion a rational person can reach. Baroness Warsi is clearly a militant atheist, committed to making religion look as ridiculous as possible until even Cliff Richard abandons it. And Richard Dawkins is a born-again evangelical Christian who's determined to be so condescendingly dreadful that even atheists start kneeling in prayer and talking in tongues.

*No secularism please, we're British - Peter Popham