Before I begin my post today, it is ‘cards on the table’ time. I’m an atheist, largely because – in terms of how I live my life – I feel most comfortable presuming that God does not exist and that religion is a man-made means of control-comforting the masses. If I’ve got that completely wrong and I end up getting sent to eternal hell and damnation, I figure it’s not a great deal worse than I deserve anyway, whether or not I believed in God, so [‘swings and roundabouts’ if you like] hey ho … and fair enough.
Accordingly in my world, ‘established’ religion and positions of power owned or usurped by clergymen and women – however impressive any of them be individually – are anachronisms. Quaint? Well possibly … But to be done away with? Definitely.
This week, on the back of a report by an all-party study and inquiry into food banks, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has put the boot into the Coalition Government, saying he was more shocked by the plight of a family he’d met at a British food bank than he was by what he’d seen on a trip to Africa.
Now I’m no Tory or particular supporter of the Government’s welfare reforms – I’m an agnostic on those – but frankly, the Archbishop is spouting tosh.
Rather like the heated exchange I once had with a niece who was on her high horse asserting that everyone should be contributing whatever they could towards alleviating African poverty (“If you can save a life by sending £5 a month, you should”) – my reply was to the effect that, on that basis, if she was really serious about saving lives in Africa, surely she should be persuading her parents to sell their million-pound house in leafy Wandworth and save 200,000 – it ill bodes Welby to lecture the Government about poverty in Britain when, compared to anyone in Africa and elsewhere where poverty amounts a daily battle to survive to the setting of the sun, nobody in obesity-blighted Britain is actually poor at all.
Well, unless – that is – you regard not having enough cash to afford a smartphone … a brand new pair of trainers … daily fixes of cigarettes, alcohol and fast food … a Sky TV subscription operating on a high-definition television … and annual holidays in the Mediterranean sunshine, as your defining signals of poverty.