Religious tolerance

I’m not the sort of ape who takes sides in human squabbles, but it warms my hairy cockles when an oppressed religious minority wins its legitimate rights. I’m talking about the druids, who have finally been recognised by the British state as followers of an authentic faith, rather than a bunch of herb-sniffing weirdos who have read too many Asterix comics. 

To achieve this auspicious end, the druids have had to compromise on some of their traditional practices. Human sacrifice will now be restricted to the Festival of the Giant Hooting Barn Owl, which occurs every 721 years. And caterwauling in the small hours to ward off the Demon Duckface will only be allowed in underground caves or nuclear bunkers. In exchange for these pragmatic concessions, druidic trust funds have been given tax-exempt status, which means there’ll plenty of savoury fish-balls and dandelion wine to go round at this year’s winter solstice celebrations. 

The lesson we can draw from their successful campaign is that good things come to those who wait. The druids were wizards-most-exalted of the British Isles before the Roman invasion of 43 AD, which they resisted fanatically by wailing and letting off stick bombs. According to the historian Tacitus, their frightful antics… 

…struck the Romans with awe and terror. They stood in stupid amazement, as if their limbs were benumbed… 

But the men of the Roman army soon pulled out their weapons and got stuck in, burning down the sacred druidic groves and forcing the survivors to hide amongst the Welsh. It was a bitter pill to swallow for a proud indigenous priesthood. 

Pope Benny must be looking with envy at these neo-pagan cults, gaining influence and winning converts while his own church is mired in scandal. He has only himself to blame. When he visited Africa last year, he foolishly condemned our native tribal religions, denouncing the witch-doctor as a devil in ostrich feathers. This inevitably brought a thousand voodoo curses down upon his holy head, causing skeletons to emerge from cupboards and poke him in the vitals. 

Instead of bad-mouthing other faiths, a wise high pontiff would raid them for good ideas. If you ask rank-and-file Catholics what they most admire about paganism, they’ll inevitably mention female deities. The Virgin Mary isn’t quite up to the job, as she’s revered for being someone’s mother rather than a goddess in her own right. There is also the problem of her virginity, which prevents her from answering the prayers of the sexually frustrated. 

If I were the Pope, I would make Lucy Lawless the goddess of Christianity.  Xena the Warrior Princess was a class act - proud of bosom and earnest of thigh, she rode into battle like a true Christian knight. Yet she was also a coquette, who let beefcake suitors woo her like a wood nymph. If she became the Queen of Heaven, the Catholic Church would once more be a fitting home for fearless swordsmen and swooning damsels, whose sins in the heat of passion would be forgiven. This might not be to everyone’s taste, but it beats getting buggered by men in frocks.

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