Defending the indefensible
HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Lord of the Isles, etc. etc. is obviously a man with a liking for job titles, and his collection so far is only overshadowed by the collection of military medals and uniforms he wears to go with them. And, despite his less than impressive record of any actual employment so far he’s looking forward to getting a new one.
‘Defender of faith’ he wants to be known as rather than ‘Defender of the faith’ when the family business, consisting of travelling around the world waving at the natives, is finally handed to him. And this makes perfect sense. The current title seems to imply that there’s only one faith that needs defending, whereas of course, they’re all at each other’s throats, and so need defending from each other. There’s also the fact that he and his chums who collectively own the planet don’t give a sod which faith the proles go for, as long as they can be kept in a state of obedient, religious stupor by believing in one of them.
In the good old days, of course, the gods were omnipotent and could easily defend themselves. Thor had a ruddy great hammer to show who was boss and Zeus was known for hurling thunderbolts at anyone who crossed his path. But now, it seems, they need a mortal to consult with and advise them on the defence of their various faiths. And Charlie, the man who has devoted so much of his life to talking to plants and studying quack herbal remedies is apparently uniquely qualified to do it.
And now someone is taking his wish to become ‘defender of faith’ to all the gods seriously. Lord Harries, a former Bishop of Oxford, and a ‘leading CofE liberal thinker’ according to the Daily Mail (28 November) suggests that Charles’s coronation service should be opened with a reading from the Koran. Unsurprisingly, many of his colleagues strongly disagree.
In any event, one passage it may be wise to avoid will be Surah 5 verse 51: ‘O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is one of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk’.
Lord Harries is sure, however, that it would be ‘a creative act of accommodation’ and make Muslims feel ‘embraced’ by the nation. Whether some of the more extreme Islamists of Isis, for example, who want an Islamic state and prefer to deal with those of a different persuasion by beheading them feel the need to be ‘embraced’ or have their faith ‘defended’ by the new King Charlie of the UK is another matter.
A report on the World Bulletin website (11 November) suggests that in Egypt, at least, panicking Moslems and Christians are being forced to join forces to fight what they see as a new danger: a ‘growing trend of atheism’ which has ‘alarmed the country’s religious institutions’. It seems that since the 2011 uprising many young Egyptians have begun to openly declare their atheist views.
Strange, isn’t it, that after being divided for centuries by their religions it’s the rejection of religion that’s getting them together? Funny old world isn’t it? Perhaps now that they’ve found this new understanding they can tell us which god is the real one, and which the imposter.