• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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Tory MP is Demagogue Shock

I’m a few days late with this one, from the Daily Express‘s “Religious Affairs Staff” (cough, cough):

THE Archbishop of Canterbury was under fire last night after declaring that Christian doctrine is offensive to Muslims.

Tory MP Philip Davies said: “The archbishop has lost the plot. He is supposed to be leading the Church, not apologising for it. What kind of leadership is this?   “People are sick to death of this handwringing about things from long ago. Dr Williams should be proud of his Christian beliefs.”

I blogged on this gross distortion of Williams’ letter to Muslims at the time, although I wasn’t then aware of Davies’ considered theological contribution.

Davies is a long-time rent-a-quote for right-wing tabloids; as Peter Oborne noted earlier this month:

On the morning of 7 October 2006 The Sun newspaper splashed a dramatic story across its front page. The story – billed as exclusive – concerned a callous and cynical crime committed by Muslims. A team of Sun reporters described in graphic detail how what the paper labelled a “Muslim hate mob” had vandalised a house near Windsor. The Sun revealed that “vile yobs hurled bricks through windows and daubed obscenities. A message on the drive spelled out in 4ft-letters: ‘Fuck off ‘.”

One Tory MP, Philip Davies, was quoted venting outrage at this act of vandalism. “If there’s anybody who should fuck off,” Davies was quoted as saying, “it’sthe Muslims who are doing this kind of thing. Police should pull out the stops to track down these vile thugs”…But there was one very big problem with The Sun story. There was no Muslim involvement of any kind.

But it’s not just Islam on which Davies sounds off: a few weeks ago he was quoted in the Mail calling for a company which offers advice on benefit claims to “be prosecuted for aiding and abetting benefit fraud”; interestingly, the article has since been taken down.

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