Michael Gove in The Spectator:
Praying? What kind of people are you?
Well, the kind of people who built our civilisation, founded our democracies, developed our modern ideas of rights and justice, ended slavery, established universal education and who are, even as I write, in the forefront of the fight against poverty, prejudice and ignorance. In a word, Christians. But to call yourself a Christian in contemporary Britain is to invite pity, condescension or cool dismissal. In a culture that prizes sophistication, non-judgmentalism, irony and detachment, it is to declare yourself intolerant, naive, superstitious and backward. It was almost 150 years ago that Matthew Arnold wrote of the Sea of Faith’s ‘melancholy, long, withdrawing roar’ and in our time that current has been replaced by an incoming tide of negativity towards Christianity. In his wonderful book Unapologetic, the author Francis Spufford describes the welter of prejudice the admission of Christian belief tends to unleash. ‘It means that we believe in a load of bronze-age absurdities. It means that we don’t believe in dinosaurs. It means that we’re dogmatic. That we’re self-righteous. That we fetishise pain and suffering. That we advocate wishy-washy niceness. That we promise the oppressed pie in the sky when they die… That we build absurdly complex intellectual structures, full of meaningless distinctions, on the marshmallow foundations of fantasy… That we destroy the spontaneity and hopefulness of children by implanting a sick mythology in young minds…’
And that’s just for starters. If we’re Roman Catholic we’re accessories to child abuse, if we’re Anglo-Catholics we’re homophobic bigots curiously attached to velvet and lace, if we’re liberal Anglicans we’re pointless hand-wringing conscience–hawkers, and if we’re evangelicals we’re creepy obsessives who are uncomfortable with anyone enjoying anything more louche than a slice of Battenberg.