Last week, the Bishop of Leeds sent a letter to David Cameron, complaining about some of his policies toward the Middle East. That made me think about who the British Primeminister should lobby, when he is dissatisfied with the strategy pursued in the Middle East…
You art in Heaven, and hallowed is thy name, but when it comes to the Middle East, enough is enough! You have to give a chance to us decent Christian chaps who muddle through life down here, trying to do your will as you somewhat vaguely command it. It seems you told the Bishop of Leeds to give me a right worshipful ticking off over my government’s policy to Iraq and Syria. That seems jolly unfair, especially as you could have told me your thoughts privately, thus sparing me yet another ‘bishop slams government’ headline. I pray to you every day, just like Tony and Maggie did, and unlike the atheistic Miliband. Hence, I cannot fathom why you have engaged the Church of England to campaign against me like this, when its support for Tony and Maggie was so indomitable. More importantly, I really feel it is about time you stood up like the one true omnipotent God you are, and took your share of responsibility for the mess in the Middle East.
To begin with, might you not be a little more ‘hands on’ with directing the quest for peace? I see you have everything under control in Switzerland, Canada and New Zealand, so could you not pay more attention to events in the Holy Land? There is far too much confusion over which groups have been conferred special status by you, and why. This inevitably leads to disputes about land rights, access to water, whether devil worshippers should be raped and murdered, and that sort of thing.
In general, there is a lot of argument concerning your will, and who is correctly following it. Do you want women veiled or not? Should gays be allowed to marry, or stoned to death? Is it better to rehabilitate criminals, or to mutilate them? Some Muslims even believe it is acceptable to discriminate against Christians through higher taxes! If I were you, I would give serious consideration to appointing a senior advisor to work full-time on your communications policy with respect to the Middle East. Perhaps Archangel Gabriel might be an appropriate choice. At the very least, you should listen to Tony’s guidance, as I know he gives it to you every night. He knows all about the Middle East, having done a lot of business with Arabs, Jews, and all sorts. Tony was also a whizz at summarising complicated policies through attractive soundbites. He can help you to get tough on sectarian conflict, tough on the causes of sectarian conflict.
At this juncture, I feel compelled to remind you of the strategic blunder you made, by informing Mohammed that he was the last prophet. That decision leaves you unable to issue subsequent corrections and amendments, like you famously did when sending your son to die on the cross. Though you may lose a little face, I recommend a u-turn, like when I formed a coalition with the Lib Dems, after mocking them only days before. Please designate a new prophet to look after your wayward sheep. I know Tony would be up for the job, though his popularity ratings have dropped a little in recent years. If there is a question of diversity, than perhaps Oprah Winfrey might be best placed to act as your representative on Earth. She is independently wealthy so will not be subject to the usual corruptive influences, she ticks all the right boxes, and she even owns her own TV network, which would help with spreading the word.
Now let me now turn to the specific points raised by your instrument, the attack dog collar also known as the Bishop of Leeds. He chastised me about HM Government’s policy in Iraq and Syria. However, a moment’s reflection reveals they also paint you in an unflattering light. The bishop wrote that: “the UK is responding to events in a reactive way, and it is difficult to discern the strategic intentions behind this approach.” Can you think of a more fitting way to describe your own stance? If you are allowed to move in mysterious ways, why expect the rest of us to be straightforward? Please clarify if your goal is the peaceful co-existance of people of all faiths, or whether the Muslims are right to try to convert us all. It would be easier for my government to develop a more proactive policy, if we knew it was consistent with the instructions you give to worshippers who inhabit the Middle East.
Having said his letter was about Iraq and Syria, the bishop also questions my government’s position on Islamist extremism around the globe. I think our position is very plain: we are against it! All of us in HM Government would appreciate it if you would articulate your position as clearly as we have articulated ours. Next time a violent jihadi gets down on his hands and knees to pray to you, might you not have a quiet word in his ear, telling him to sow the seeds of peace, instead of spraying bullets from his AK-47?
The bishop highlights the good work done by my government in providing humanitarian aid to the Yazidis, but then challenges me about what has been done to protect and aid displaced Christians in the region. Let me turn this back to you. After all, when it comes to religion, does the buck not stop with you? How can you reconcile making indirect demands that Britain accommodate hundreds of Christian refugees, with your lack of intervention to protect Christians in Iraq and Syria? When we wanted to bomb Syria, the British Parliament stopped us. However, no authority on Heaven or Earth can stop you from taking a more active role. In ancient history, you sent plagues to punish the Egyptians, but only after the Jews suffered terribly. Should you not learn the lesson of that episode, by sending plagues to reverse the tide of violence unleashed by ISIS, before they establish a new Islamic Caliphate?
Finally, the bishop concludes by noting that:
Underlying these concerns is the need for reassurance that a commitment to religious freedom will remain a priority for the government, given the departure of ministers who championed this… Is this not the time to appoint an ambassador at large for international religious freedom â€“ which would demonstrate the government’s serious commitment to developing an overarching strategy (backed by expertise) against Islamist extremism and violence?
Lord, it seems to me that the same questions might just as easily be asked of you. You have a woeful track record when it comes to the conflicting spokespersons you have put at the head of each and every church. None of your teachings shows any sign of an overarching strategy to discourage Islamist extremism and violence. From some perspectives, it appears you want the extremists to win! Please give thought to appointing a new shepherd for your Middle Eastern flock, perhaps by resurrecting a charismatic former world leader. I know that I would be very happy to see Maggie restored to her full glory here on Earth, waving her handbag and telling everyone to behave. However, I recognize that her funeral did cause a brouhaha with a vocal minority. We could really do with a similarly popular and widely-recognized world leader, but who also possessed a very nice smile. With that in mind, I strongly recommend you bring back Nelson Mandela, and grant him a mandate to promote peace and reconciliation in this troubled region.
I do hope you give serious consideration to my proposals. In future, please contact me directly if you would like help with resolving hostilities in the Middle East.
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