This is our truth, tell us yours
Reading this excellent post in Time I discovered I was still able to be surprised by the War on Christmas mob, who apparently claim Xmas is used to erase Christianity. Xmas was popularized by the puritans, who took words very seriously, and thought just casually saying, or writing, Christ was blasphemous but as the link explains, it has a longer history than that. It should come as no surprise that right-wing fundamentalists are ignorant of even their own history and culture, but it caused me to ponder why this is such an issue for those on the far right over here too.
If you have the misfortune to visit the Britain First website the apparent War on Christianity is one of their recurring themes. In their founding principles it says.
3. Britain First is committed to preserving our ancestral ethnic and cultural heritage, traditions, customs and values. We oppose the colonisation of our homeland through immigration and support the maintenance of the indigenous British people as the demographic majority within our own homeland. Britain First is committed to maintaining and strengthening Christianity as the foundation of our society and culture.
Now lets ignore, for the moment, the strange idea that the Picts and Celts are a demographic majority, or that they were Christians. Christianity is a foreign religion brought to these shores by migrants. The form of Christianity that became dominant in the British Isles was, after the Synod of Whitby, the state religion of Rome, rather than the Celtic Christianity influenced by the “indigenous” inhabitants of these islands. However you have all probably heard my rant about Hilde and the mistakes of Whitby often enough. (Tl;dr version, it was a huge mistake which led to the dominance of a patrichial and misogynistic state religion concerned more with supporting the established order than building the kingdom).
What are people like Britain first saying when they talk about this being a “Christian Country?” It is clear they do not mean Christ like, after all Christ healed the outsider, was a refugee himself, ate with outcasts and told his followers that whatever you do to the least among us, you do to him.
Of course its obvious what people on the right mean, they mean this was a white country.
Lets think about that for a moment. When The Daily Mail says that a nativity has been banned, or Britain First talk about Christian Values what they are actually saying is that once this country was white, all white, as white as Richard Littlejohn’s pimply backside. That whiteness was homogenous, everyone had the same (white) values, the same beliefs, shared the same ideas, and sat down everyday at 3 pm for buttered crumpets and Earl Grey.
Then one day in 1951 black people arrived and its all been downhill ever since.
It’s not even history, it’s a conflation of racists beliefs about people of colour being other with a desire to return to childhood and simplicity. It’s dangerous because so many people want to believe there was a simpler time, to retreat from the complexities of being an adult, so it’s not just “out” racists who adopt these arguments. Yesterday I was told by someone that a local school had “banned” the nativity because it would offend “minorities”. Now given that the school in question is 100% white I found this rather dubious, but as we were in a setting where calling her a fuckwit wouldn’t have been appropriate I simply asked if it had been banned, or if the school had chosen not to do one.
Personally I understand why many teachers despair of traditional nativity plays, they take up valuable teaching time and in the current climate of testing and micro management of every aspect of the curriculum that is time that just doesn’t exist. Ever wondered why your kids schools nativity features a trip round the world or a song about recycling? It’s so they can fit it into various cross curriculum targets and goals. But I digress, back to the “ban”.
Little miss fuckwit didn’t answer my question, instead she talked about how SHE liked traditional nativities and when SHE was a child no one complained. It’s that quest for the simplicity of youth, for a return to something that never existed except inside her head, a world of moral certainties. of ethical straight lines.
This is why it is impossible to use facts to argue with the Christian Country hysteria. Countering that the first people of colour arrived with the Romans, that Christianity itself, from the Shakers to the Unitarians was never homogenous, that most of the things they call Christian (origins of mistletoe anyone) are actually pagan will never work. They are not talking about the country, they are talking about themselves, about a desire to return to childhood when Daddy knew best and no one ever asked difficult questions. Adulthood means accepting difference, greyness, that everything isn’t black and white. Oddly perhaps racism, at its core, has people refusing to be adults, clinging to the idea that black and white is all there is.