At first sight, it is seemed reasonable to assume that Eric Pickles had hitched his wagon to the to the 'Not Ashamed' campaign train which launches today (1 December 2010) with his claims about the “ambush of Christmas” by “politically correct Grinches” and an exhortation to local councils to “take pride in Britain's Christian heritage.”
But a closer look at what passes for thinking on the part of the Secretary of State for Local Government reveals that his take on Christianity is so far off the mark that even the most shrill exponents of the imaginary 'persecution complex' might wish to distance themselves a little.
So that the Minister might have no grounds for claiming that I have misrepresented him, here are his own words from the Conservative party website: “Councils that embrace the spirit of the season and bring Christmas to town, from luminous lights to competitively priced car spaces are likely to get merrier profits come January, bringing in revenues which help support frontline services and keep council tax down.
"We live in tough financial times, but there's no need for town halls to play Scrooge. It is councils' financial interests to draw in shoppers to their town centres at Christmas, given the benefits of packed car parks to councils' coffers. Shoppers want to see Christmas lights, Christmas trees, Carol Services and nativity scenes, and councils should not hesitate in supporting them."
So there it is. The gospel according to Pickles reduces the incarnational message of hope, transformation and good news for the poor to a retail opportunity. And all his opportunist spluttering about 'Winterval' and 'the war on Christmas' does not disguise that ugly fact .
Might Christian Concern (formerly Christian Concern for our Nation) and their associated lobbyists spare a little time from being indignant about imaginary persecution to consider how Mr Pickles could be assisted to a better understanding of the message of the Poor Man of Nazareth?