19 May 2008

No sects please, we're British

Tonight's Dispatches on Channel 4 turned its lens on the rise of fundamentalist Christianity as a political force in the UK. Being Dispatches, it had to ramp up the hysteria, painting the sorry gaggle of would-be Jeremiahs into some sort of fifth column, with the ear of decision-makers, pulling the strings of power.

The reality, of course, was a documentary about a dreary series of meetings, thinly attended by marginal people whose main threat to the mainstream population was forcing a leaflet about homosexual abomination into unwanted hands. The premise of the film - that this somehow constituted a real and present threat to British democracy - was undermined by the sheer numbers of people who failed to turn up to any of their organised protests.

In truth it was a very British form of fundamentalism: a lot of shuffling embarrassment by participants and passers-by. In fact their supposedly explosive views on Islam as apostasy were no worse than I have heard coming back the other way from members of the Muslim Council of Britain, which is supposedly the political mainstream. Certainly there was no Oliver Cromwell amongst this New Model Army.

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