One needn’t be a theist of any sort to be alarmed at David Cameron’s publicly proclaimed belief last week that he considers himself to be “continuing God’s work” on Earth.
Surely atheists, monotheists, non-theists (and polytheists) alike will have been mildly surprised, if not disconcerted, to learn that for the past four years they have been subject as much to divine guidance as to democratic governance.
For me the smart money would be on atheists being the single most widely slack-jawed to hear a sitting PM let on that his “government has a sense of evangelism” and claim “Jesus invented the Big Society 2,000 years ago”.
To them, and particularly to that educated white collar technocratic New Atheist community latterly begat of Dawkins, the holder of Britain’s highest political office has just publicly confessed he is, in fact, stark raving mad. Guided by voices and wielding executive power over, for instance, your child’s education, or provision of health services.
Fewer monotheists, by contrast, will have dropped a spoon into their soup upon hearing the Praise Minister’s declaration.
After all, the myriad texts (that mass of myth, fable, articles of faith and what-not known as ‘the Bible’) which both informs and underpins the Christian faith are variously embraced and extolled across the political spectrum, from Fabian Labour to US Tea Party right.
Don’t doubt for one second that swathes of devout Tory England were delighted to hear news of Dave’s evangelising mission, sing hallelujah, praise be Alpha Course!
For them the Tory Party and the Church of England are intertwined, an indivisible whole also comprising Mary Berry and the Royal Family.
Less chuffed, clearly, might be the 40+ bishops and 600 church leaders who signed a letter calling on the government to act urgently on the “national crisis” of Britain’s rising hunger and food poverty.
Almost as if the scriptures from which they seek to interpret the mind of god – the very god in whose name Cameron purports to act – make no mention of enforcing a punitive welfare system.
Who knows, maybe there ain’t no mention of payday loans or fixed odds terminals unchained or We Buy Clothes 70p/kg neither.
And the non-theists? Basically, in the face of imponderables, we devote our energies elsewhere.
But even we are worried.