And does Cameron really mean what he says about standing up for Christian values?

It seems that the White House has succumbed to political correctness: apparently it referred to Christmas trees as “Holiday Trees” for the first time this year. It has prompted this response from CBS presenter, Ben Stein, who broadcast his response on the CBS Sunday Morning commentary:

“I am a Jew and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it doesn’t bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful, lit up, bejewelled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against… It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say ‘Merry Christmas’ to me… In fact I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year.

“I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat…”

I think we need some of Ben Stein’s straight-talking over here, too. There have been too many public incidents in this country where Christians have been pushed around for stating firmly their Christian beliefs; these range from foster parents being discriminated against for upholding Christian moral teaching, B&B owners being hounded for the same reason, and other cases of conscience that have hit the headlines.

Last Friday David Cameron made a speech at Christ Church, Oxford to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible in which he said: “We are a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so. The Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today. Values and morals we should actively stand up and defend.” The Prime Minister called for the promotion of “Christian values”, saying it was “profoundly wrong” to believe that promoting Christianity would “do down other faiths”.

It’s all very well saying this – but does Mr Cameron really understand what he is saying? Is he just promoting the gospel of middle-class niceness to each other – or is he really signing up to Christian beliefs? In the latter case, how can he state, as he did notoriously at the last Conservative party conference, that he believes in same-sex “marriage”? This certainly isn’t Biblical teaching.

And would Mr Cameron agree that Nick Lansley, head of research and development for the Tesco website, should be called to account for what amounts to a hate speech, when he wrote on the same website that he is campaigning against “evil Christians (that’s not all Christians, just bad ones) who think that gay people should not lead happy lives and get married to their same-sex partners”? Suppose a Christian public figure in the supermarket industry had stated on a public website that he was campaigning against “evil people of same-sex attraction”? It would have caused an outcry.

On another topic: if you receive mail in the post that has not been franked, are you allowed to re-use the stamp? This has happened to me several times recently. I once asked a Benedictine monk this question. His reply was that certainly we are; the Post Office is the culprit. I then asked a Jesuit the same question. He looked shocked that I could even raise the subject. “It’s a form of theft!” he declared.