Ian Paisley ‘meek and mild’ – shock revelation

We shouldn’t rewrite the classics to appease religious belief but changing texts is not always wrong.” Stephanie Merritt on the (apparently false) story that the Bristol Old Vic production of Marlowe’s “Tamburlaine the Great” changed the text in order to avoid offending Muslims.

While the article is quite balanced in its treatment of that particular issue, you can’t but be struck by the casually bigoted attitude towards the religious beliefs of minority communities. Thus we are told, yet again, that the extension of the racial hatred laws to cover incitement to religious hatred should be opposed because “belief is a choice, ethnicity is not”. Yeah sure – Muslims don’t need protection against the hate-propaganda of the BNP because they can avoid it by the simple expedient of changing their religion or embracing atheism.

And then we are warned that “an increasing number of religious groups – even meek and mild Christians – now include rogue elements who feel their freely chosen beliefs are not robust enough to withstand criticism or mockery and must be defended by threatening or violent means”.

So, unlike the aggressive religions of minority communities, Christianity is the province of the “meek and mild”. This would be the faith that features George W. Bush and Ian Paisley among its adherents, would it?

Observer, 27 November 2005