Yesterday Jeremy Corbyn sent his “warmest wishes to Jewish communities all over Britain”, wishing them all “Chag Sameach”. The message will have been especially welcome at a time when Labour is grappling with anti-Semitism within the party (although Corbyn made no reference to this).
Corbyn’s message came a little over a week after he had addressed a letter to the Sikh community in which he wished them a “Happy Vaisakhi”. In this letter he reflected on some of the things that Sikhism meant to him, saying among other things that he was “particularly taken by the story of Emperor Akbar who, in 1569, was told by the 5th Sikh Guru to sit and share a meal with the poor.” He also praised the “principles of Sikhism which we can all learn from”.
Generous and open minded messages, you might say.
Except that they contrast strongly with Mr Corbyn’s approach to Christianity.
Last Christmas the Labour leader broke with recent tradition and refused to issue a Christmas message on Christmas Eve. Had he ever been “particularly taken” by any of Jesus’s teachings? We were not to know.
“I don’t want us to move into religious politics in Britain. I respect all faiths”, had been Corbyn’s response when asked about the decision.
But if the Labour leader thinks that to issue a Christmas message is to “move into religious politics”, why has he just wished Jews “Chag Sameach” and Sikhs a “Happy Vaisakhi”?
Looking further back, why did he post a tweet to mark the Hindi festival of Diwali last November, or send a message to British Muslims celebrating Islam for Eid last September?
Clearly, Jeremy Corbyn is very comfortable “moving into religious politics”. So what does Corbyn find so difficult about releasing a Christmas message in a Christian country?
Corbyn’s apparent discomfort with Christianity is part of a wider movement that sees Christianity as a somehow uniquely culturally insensitive religion that apparently isn’t “inclusive” enough. Quite how the religion that accepts anyone no matter their background and sins isn’t “inclusive” enough has yet to be explained…
It’s this wider movement that saw staff at a law firm renaming their Christmas party “End of Year Party/Christmas Party according to your beliefs” to insure that non-Christians weren’t offended by the message of goodwill.
Thankfully, however, not everyone acquiesces to the new de-Christianising political correctness.
This Easter, the Prime Minister acknowledged that there are some people who “argue that celebrating Easter somehow marginalises other religions”.
But in his Easter message he disagreed:
“At the heart of all these acts of kindness and courage [faith-inspired volunteering in Britain and in war-torn parts of the world] is a set of values and beliefs that have helped to make our country what it is today.
“Values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion and pride in working for the common good and honouring the social obligations we have to one another, to our families and our communities.
“These are values we treasure.
“They are Christian values and they should give us the confidence to say yes, we are a Christian country and we are proud of it.
“But they are also values that speak to everyone in Britain – to people of every faith and none.”
Corbyn supporters were quick to mock Cameron because he had once said that his faith was “a bit like the reception for Magic FM in the Chilterns – it sort of comes and goes”. But how many of those deriding Cameron mocked Corbyn when he expresssed his admiration for the 5th Sikh Guru?
To conclude, there is a discrepancy in the way that Corbyn treats Christianity and the way he treats other religions. Corbyn may want to address this discrepancy if he does not want the public to conclude that he likes every culture except Britain’s own Judeo-Christian one.