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April 21, 2014

England's most famous Etonian suffers a lapse in class.

Did the British PM blow a few "dog-whistles" at cranky devout Christian voters last week? Though almost a week old, this story has legs--in and beyond Old Blighty--because it's so, well, appalling. It is also cringe-worthy for any American, with or without an understanding of English constitutional law, who stayed awake during high school civics back in Indiana. David Cameron, Britain's Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party, apparently decided to tap the ever-dwindling Church of England "cultural" vote. The Guardian was one of the first to report it in "Prime Minister David Cameron: I am evangelical about Christian faith". To make matters worse, Cameron also said that England was a "Christian" country. A day later, the Guardian's Polly Toynbee wrote her own piece, "David Cameron won't win votes by calling Britain a Christian country", and asked

So why God now?

His core message, "This is a Christian country", dog-whistles to key voters. Ostensibly, it soothes the noisy but electorally few affronted folk in the pews angry about gay marriage, whose fury he had underestimated. For them Cameron ladled out syrupy retro-visions of the C of E [Church of England] of his Oxfordshire upbringing, its liturgy and heritage, his love of early morning eucharist at his children's school's church. But his "Christian country" message is really whistling to the errant flock fled to Ukip. They may never attend, but the C of E is a cultural identity marker for those sharing Nigel Farage's distaste for foreign tongues on his commuter train.

Naturally, Cameron is careful to say "this is not somehow doing down other faiths". But those who feel threatened on account of their non-Christian faith won't find Christian branding reassuring. This week, an article on this site described how the far right is using pork to persecute Jews and Muslims, as Marine Le Pen stops schools serving non-pork options in the French towns she now controls. More horrible still, members of the Flemish Vlaams Belang party reportedly stormed into a school and forced pork sausages into children's mouths.

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Can I get an amen?

Posted by JD Hull at April 21, 2014 11:59 PM

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