One of the great things about living here on the warmer evenings is that you get to hear them change ringing the church bells. I think they practice on a Thursday because it goes on for hours and hours on a Thursday but Sundays and Wednesdays and I think Mondays they ring them to call the faithful to prayer, both of them. It gives me a sense of continuity and peace.
I think the older I get the more I view myself as a kind of cultural Christian in that I’m an atheist but I support antidisestablishmentarianism and I see the King James Bible as being a cultural treasure and I acknowledge that our culture wouldn’t be where it is now without Christianity. I don’t so much mean that without it we’d all be immoral barbarians running around but for centuries the English have drawn inspiration from the Bible, it’s shaped our lives as individuals and so shaped the national identity. I don’t see that a book has to be true in a theological sense to contain truths, I read the Iliad and I draw inspiration from it but I don’t believe in Zeus either.
When Cameron says that this is a Christian country I think he’s right and I think anyone who argues to the contrary really doesn’t realise that probably a couple of times a week they quote the bible. It’s part of our language and so as fundamental to our culture as our language is. So I support the idea that the bible should be taught in school, just as I support the idea that the Iliad should be taught in school because I think future generations should be brought up with our cultural heritage.
Also I think this fills a practical need in that if you have people who can talk about Christianity but aren’t Christians they’re much less likely to be drawn in by evangelical nutters and other religious groups.