Mail on Sunday Comment this morning:Formidable Delia right to raise the alarm
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Delia Smith is not exactly a prophet crying in the wilderness. She is best known for two very mainstream enthusiasms, simple cookery and a love of football.
That is why her website outburst against militant secularists is so interesting. If Delia is worried about the marginalisation of Christianity in this country, it is a sign that this concern has spread well beyond the devout, the pious and the fundamentalists.
There has been a long and rather strange catalogue of faintly disturbing cases involving preachers, hotel owners, nurses, teachers, airline staff, registrars, foster parents and others. Much of Britain has shrugged. That was because these incidents frequently involved eccentric or quirky individuals, and so failed to alarm the great mass of ordinary, respectable people.
But there have now been so many such episodes that it is clear something wide and deep is going on.
Politicians, and major media organisations as well, would be wise to take it seriously. It does not arise from any detailed religious loyalty – that died in this country during and after the 1914 to 1918 war.
It arises from a sense that the country in which many millions of people grew up is being dismantled and erased all round them.
Christian beliefs, Christian assumptions, Christian music, literature and architecture surrounded several generations of people, who are still living and vigorous.
Only the remotest and wildest parts of our country lack church spires or towers. Few Welsh towns or villages are without their chapels – though many of these houses of worship are now empty and abandoned.
The poetry and music of British public ceremony and of British private life are full of Christian references. Royal occasions are clearly Christian, and even the architecture of the Palace of Westminster is Christian in origin.
To be British, for tens of millions of people, is to be vaguely but definitely Christian in sympathy. Yet those same tens of millions have begun to notice that a new and rival system of beliefs is warring for supremacy with the old one.
They hear a peremptory tone of impatience and intolerance in the utterances of the modern State and its allies. They feel that a familiar world is being snatched away from them, much as they feel when a beloved view is invaded with wind farms.
And they do not like it. They are right not to like it. And Delia Smith is right to speak out against it.
The militant secularists have acquired a formidable enemy, with a longer reach and a larger audience than any archbishop.