THE row about the National Trust removing the word ‘Easter’ from the publicity for its egg hunt has been dragged from the dull dust and thrashed into a dreary sort of scandal.
It has drawn comment from the prime minister and the Archbishop of York – and even the usually shy and retiring Nigel Farage has felt moved to speak.
Cadbury’s, which sponsors the event, stands accused of “airbrushing” Christianity out of the publicity for its hunt for chocolate eggs. And as any student of the Bible knows, the stone that was rolled away from the mouth of the tomb at Easter was in fact a giant chocolate egg.
Dr John Sentamu jumped into this row with a degree of tedious predictability, and that’s a shame, because in many ways the man has been an inspiration as Archbishop of York, but here he lets himself down. He said the supposed removal of the word ‘Easter’ was tantamount to “spitting in the grave” of John Cadbury, founder of the company. Except that as a Quaker, Cadbury is unlikely to have celebrated Easter at all.
Sentamu can at least claim to be sticking up for his side, even if a quick look at the National Trust website would have showed him that the word ‘Easter’ is littered all over the place, and has only been removed from the main title, giving prominence to Cadbury’s as the sponsor.
But Theresa May’s response to this non-story puts Sentamu in the shadows. She said she was furious on two fronts – “I’m not just a vicar’s daughter, I’m a member of the National Trust as well,” she told ITV. “I think the stance they have taken is absolutely ridiculous. I don’t know that they are thinking about frankly.”
So that’s why she got the gig: a vicar’s daughter and a member of the National Trust, a holy and conservative communion if ever there was.
Two observations can be made here…
One: Do we really want the Prime Minister to spout off like a not very good Daily Mail columnist?
Two: she made her silly statement while heading to Saudi Arabia, a country which is far from friendly to Christianity.
And there was another murky wrapper round the cheap chocolate egg here. Mrs May was crawling to the Saudis to boost British arms sales: this was the prime minister as morally dubious saleswoman (and defender of chocolate-themed Christianity).
BBC journalist John Pienaar asked Mrs May if we should be selling arms to Saudi Arabia, which is autocratic and illiberal, and has been accused of possible war crimes in Yemen.
The prime minister brushed this off with the usual flick of condescension, lecturing Pienaar that it was better to be onside because that way you could have influence. Prattling hypocrisy may be the phrase you are looking for here.
As for Nigel Farage – always the go-to authority on matters of religion – he was pictured grin-frowning alongside some Easter confectionery saying: “We must defend our Judeo-Christian culture and that means Easter.”
Even an agnostic occasional muncher of Easter eggs can see that Easter has become a muddle. If anything, all those chocolate eggs obscure what should be the true meaning for believers, don’t they? Elevating Easter eggs into a symbol of Christian virility is just daft, as proved by Farage’s eagerness to get in on the act.