In Easter week it's appropriate that the focus should be on Christianity. David Cameron's Easter message, his declaration that he is a Christian in a Christian country and his mini-sermon, has drawn scornful comments. But most of the journalists who have been cynical about it are atheists, and so while they are right in many respects they miss the point.
Cameron, along with Duncan Smith, is under fire from the leaders of all the mainstream Christian churches. They first wrote to try to draw his attention to the misery which his policies were causing to individual people, real people. IDS's response to his own church's leader was, "He's wrong; I wish he'd talked to me first." There's no way through that insane arrogance. Cameron waffled about having a moral mission. The church leaders have written again. And that's what has brought on the sermon about the big society. Neither he nor IDS ever address what the churches are saying about the real cases of hardship. Is Cameron trying to set himself up as an alternative focus of Christian authority? Is he trying to appease the Tory shires church-goers who loathe gay marriage etc.? Does he really believe what he is saying?
Many have pointed out that there might be another agenda here. The Tories are happily dismantling the welfare state and leaving casualties to be picked up by the charities, many of them church-run. Perhaps they envisage a US-style system where huge, wealthy church charities do the job which the state has hitherto done here. But we don't have huge, wealthy church charities in Britain, and bleating about the "big society" isn't going to create them.
While Cameron hasn't openly declared war on his opponents, Duncan Smith has. He can rely on the likes of Stephen Glover in the Mail to write preposterous nonsense on his behalf, and on councils like that in North Lincolnshire, where they have decided that "residents who smoke and have satellite television" are not eligible for hardship payments if they are hit by the bedroom tax. But IDS's arch enemy is the Trussell Trust, which he accuses of "running a business" and therefore having a vested interest in the proliferation of food banks. That'll go down well with the thousands of volunteers, in Trussell Trust and other food banks, who are giving their time and energy freely to help those in desperate need. An excellent article on the subject appeared this week in an unexpected place - the Economist magazine. I recommend it. It draws attention to the soaring number of sanctions. A similar point is made by the Citizens Advice blog, and it expresses concern that with the new regime of 4-week minimum sanctions duration this is going to get much worse.
Of course, readers of the Daily Mail don't know anything about that. In a baffling article yesterday someone called Matt Chorley, their political editor, ranted about the "welfare state we're in" and, since Mail readers need pictures, included lots of helpful graphics. What's peculiar is that he happily acknowledged that a huge proportion of the bill is the state pension. And pensioners react badly to being told that they're on "welfare" when they've paid in all their working lives on the basis that they would get a pension at the end of it. So this may well come under the heading of "shooting yourself in the foot".
There's some minor news about A4e. Two of its non-executive directors, Sir Hugh Sykes and Steve Boyfield, have stepped down, replace by Neil MacDonald and Sarah Anderson. It's not significant. Non-execs are only supposed to serve for 9 years, and for Sykes and Boyfield that period was up.
So, if you can, have a happy Easter.