The Daily Mail’s claims that ‘militant atheists’, the ‘PC brigade’ and ‘celebrity vendettas’ are out to destroy the Christian faith in Britain have been loud and clear for several years now, but the visit of the Pope has really drawn out just how ludicrous these claims are. It reminds me of the media narrative that ‘you can’t talk about immigration’ that has existed for years but was screamed loudly and repeatedly during the last election. As I pointed out at the time: the media, political leaders and the vast majority of phone-in shows, interviews and so forth were absolutely dominated by the topic of immigration. The media whilst claiming that they couldn’t talk about immigration, in reality filled front pages and reams and reams of copy talking about nothing but immigration.
This leads me to the coverage of the Pope’s visit. Whilst the Daily Mail claims that the BBC is a hotbed for left-wing atheism and obsessive negative coverage of the Pope’s visit – you know, for mentioning that the current Pope is directly responsible for the cover-up for the rape of hundreds, perhaps thousands of children – we actually have a huge amount of positive BBC coverage which actually drowns out – wrongly in my view – the child abuse, the Aids issue and the rabid homophobia of the Catholic Church. It is another media narrative that is completely false; the Daily Mail is equating justifiable public disquiet and protest for Britain being an heathen society deliberately setting out to destroy our ‘Christian tradition’.
The Pope – as The enemies of reason suggests – seems to have gained his entire knowledge of Britain from the Daily Mail and the tabloid press have predictably been loving every ignorant minute of it. The Pope claims that:
‘There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none.’
This is perfectly constructed nonsense that a tabloid newspaper would be proud of. Firstly, it is always ‘those’ people or ‘them’ in the context of this media narrative; we are never actually told who these people are or who they purport to be representing. Likewise, the people who might be offended are ‘those of other religions or none’, again, we have no idea who is actually offended, but in saying this the Pope appears to be certain that someone is arguing that that Christmas should be discouraged and that someone, somewhere is claiming offence at the festival.
Tabloidwatch has a brilliant round-up of the ‘Winterval’ stories that appeared in pretty much every tabloid newspaper following the Pope’s claims and it makes depressing reading. The myth that one council tried to replace Christmas with the more neutral title of ‘Winterval’ has been repeated every year hundreds of times in print, on TV, during phone-ins and so on as evidence that ‘they’ really are trying to ban Christmas. In reality Winterval was one council’s attempt to – you might say cynically – stretch out the Christmas period so that shoppers and revellers would enter the city centre and spend money not just during the traditional Christmas period but also in the weeks before and after. As the council made clear at the time – and makes clear every Christmas when brainless reporters start ringing for a comment: Christmas was the central part of the celebration and that:
During the part of that period traditionally celebrated as Christmas, “there was a banner saying Merry Christmas across the front of the council house, Christmas lights, Christmas trees in the main civil squares, regular carol-singing sessions by school choirs, and the Lord Mayor sent a Christmas card with a traditional Christmas scene wishing everyone a Merry Christmas.
The name Winterval was created in order to stretch the period the council and shops could milk Christmas without incurring the wrath of starting Christmas celebrations too early – something that ironically tabloid newspapers do not like. It was never created to replace ‘Christmas’, which, as the council makes clear, was the focal point – in all of its traditional garb – for the whole celebration. The name Winterval makes perfect sense when you consider that the Mail is already running stories this year on shops starting Christmas too early: ‘As the summer holiday kick off and the sun shines Selfridges launches CHRISTMAS grotto‘. Still, it is safer for Selfridges to start Christmas early than attempt to re-brand the period running up to Christmas because any attempt to do so would be used as more ‘evidence’ that THEY are trying to ban Christmas.
The worst part about the Winterval myth is that it is so clearly a myth. It has been debunked on so many occasions, one quick Google search and the truth is revealed; yet it has lost none of its appeal to tabloid readers who seem to believe it year after year. We will all see it trotted out over and over again this Christmas every time a piece of tinsel falls from an office ceiling it will be blamed on ‘those’ people that want to ban Christmas. If any council tries to save taxpayers money by not buying a 40ft Norwegian Christmas tree it will be because they are SCARED OF OFFENDING MUSLIMS.
And on and on and on.
This post wasn’t even supposed to be about this myth. It was supposed to be about why the Pope is a fraud.
The Pope is a fraud because – this is stolen from Bill Hicks before anyone slams me for stealing it – because he is supposed to be the supreme icon of religious faith in the power and protection offered by God… but he drives around in an armour-plated car. This just seems as if the pope is admitting that he has no faith in the protection of god and has instead turned to the evils of science for protection – which given his views on science is pretty ironic and hypocritical. Consider that the pope believes that condoms spread aids or at the very least they offer no protection, he is using his position to essentially kill people, take away their only protection against a sexually transmitted disease. Then consider that this same man is driven around in an armour-plated car and afforded every technological protection possible and you can start to see why I really despise him.
As for his rallying calls for the faithful to take up arms against science, reason and secularism I don’t think this is at all a christian way of approaching things. I had always thought that faith was supposed to be a very personal thing, that having faith was an internal process and didn’t need external reassurance – because that would dilute the real meaning of faith. It seems odd therefore that a man of faith even cares what other people think about faith or religion. Firstly, as a christian he should just turn the other cheek, and secondly, as a man of faith he should have no concern with what others think or how they act, external factors should have no relevance to internal faith.
God supposedly gave us all free will, yet here we have the pope trying to imply that such free will should be resisted and challenged, as if somehow the existence of science and reason was somehow damaging the internal pursuit of faith. If you really believe in god and the eternal afterlife of heaven, why would you care about worldly issues that have no impact upon your internal faith? Not to mention why would you bother armour-plating your car – if the pope fears death then what hope do other Catholics have about the afterlife?
The last two points I want to quickly make is that I find it highly amusing that the pope criticises the shallow pursuit of celebrity, fashion and fame… whilst he stands dressed in silly (not to mention obscenely expensive) robes, carrying a huge gold cross and wearing a huge gold hat whilst being the ceremonial head of an obscenely rich organisation followed by over a billion people. Whilst at the same time he is trying to act repentant about the terrible ‘shame’ the Catholic Church felt over the child abuse scandal, when in reality it is he who should feel ashamed, given how it was he who decided the course of action that the church took in response to child rape (hide it, move the priests on and excommunicate anyone who speaks out). In between these apologies he kisses as many babies as possible.