An interesting bit of synchronicity in the last 24 hours - 1) an address from the Bishop of Rochester addressing -broadly speaking - a “moral vacuum” in society, and 2) a very watchable, twee BBC biopic on the late “clean-up-TV” campainger Mary Whitehouse.
Now then - a lot of what the Bishop is reported to have said made sense, and a lot of people, irrespective of their faith / lack thereof, would share his despair at the lack of morals in today’s society (although, of course, talking about a “lack of morals”, and indeed “society”, involves HUGELY broad, blunt sweeps though swathes of infinite shades of grey).
However - as evidenced by the follow-up phone in on BBC 5 this morning - as soon as you bring G(g)od(s) into it, you inevitably, and sadly, provoke an execrable “told you so, we’re right and you’re wrong” righteous reaction from Christians all over the land, which in turn provokes a vast raising of hackles on the part of non-Christians who consider themselves to be perfectly “moral” and massively resent a minority claiming some kind of high ground simply because they have an imaginary friend and go to a building with a high-vaulted roof once a week.
Tellingly, the BBC’s revisionist Mary Whitehouse documentary made very little reference to her strongly-held Christian beliefs, which she would routinely shove in the face of anyone who disagreed with her; instead portraying her (through the ever-loveable Julie Walters) primarily as a caring non-denominational traditional tea-and-cakes, village fete teacher / mother figure. Had the dramatists included any more of the overweening holier-than-thou preachiness which made Whitehouse so hated by so many moderate, intelligent people throughout the media and beyond, the programme would never have worked in a million years.
The lesson? Yes, there are problems with “morality” in society. But preaching explicitly Christian ideas of righteousness and godliness won’t ever and solve them alone - and in fact, in a largely secular society, any group which claims morality as their sole preserve will only succeed in creating more disagreements and divisions, to the further detriment of that society. Save it for Sundays.