‘Hazel Blears says sidelining of Christianity is common sense’

It is “common sense” for Christianity to be sidelined at the expense of Islam, a Government minister claimed on Sunday. Hazel Blears, the Communities Secretary, defended Labour’s policy on religion after a report backed by the Church of England claimed that Muslims receive a disproportionate amount of attention.

She said it was right that more money and effort was spent on Islam than Christianity because of the threat from extremism and home-grown terrorism.

Ms Blears told BBC Radio 4’s Sunday programme: “That’s just common sense. If we’ve got an issue where we have to build resilience of young Muslim men and women to withstand an extremist message.”

She added: “We live in a secular democracy. That’s a precious thing. We don’t live in a theocracy, but we’ve always accepted that hundreds of thousands of people are motivated by faith. We live in a secular democracy but we want to recognise the role of faith.”

The Church of England bishop responsible for the report, the Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, Bishop for Urban Life and Faith, said afterwards: “She said we live in a secular democracy. That comes as news to me – we have an established Church, but the Government can’t deal with Christianity.”

As The Daily Telegraph reported on Saturday, the landmark report commissioned by the Church and written by academics at the Von Hugel Institute accuses ministers of paying only “lip service” to Christianity and marginalising the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, while focusing “intently” on Islam.

Daily Telegraph, 9 June 2008

The idea that Blears’ targeting of British Muslims as a suspect community amounts to discriminating in favour of Islam against Christianity is of course laughable.

Nevertheless, Mad Mel is appalled:

“Here is a government minister endorsing the sidelining of the founding faith of her country by an aggressively colonising religion whose adherents are determined that it should supplant that founding faith – and boasting that she is giving it British taxpayers’ money to do so in the name of defeating religious extremism…. The root of this madness is the government’s refusal to acknowledge the essence of the problem. Crippled by tunnel vision in which it sees al Qaeda alone as beyond the pale because the only threat the government recognises is terrorism, it fails to see that the other half of the attack is the attempt by Islamists to colonise the cultural sphere and transform Britain into an Islamic state.”

Melanie Phillip’s blog, 9 June 2008