Picture the scene on the redtop newspaper daily news meeting.
Parliament is in recess; the Prime Minister is out of the country. World events are dicey, plenty to report there, but only on the inside pages and in just a few cursory paragraphs. But – in dear old England – it’s a fairly quiet news day.
Then someone pipes up “Did you hear? That halal-loving, foreign-owned chocolate company, Cadbury has got the National Trust to remove the word, Easter from their annual Easter Egg hunt.”
“Blimey” says the news editor, or words to that effect.
“Get that Archbishop of York on the phone – see what he has to say – he’s always good for a unsubstantiated sweeping statement.”
“Where’s the PM today?” It turns out she is visiting Saudi Arabia. A country whose human rights record is questionable to say the least and whose involvement in Yemen is causing misery to thousands of civilians caught up in the war.
“Never mind all that” says the news editor, “Find out what she thinks about the National Trust “banning” the word Easter from their annual Easter Egg hunt.”
As the “breaking news” unfolds, TV and radio news take up the story and “Cadbury” becomes the number one trend on the Twitter feed.
We may have moved on from fake sheikery – but Fake News is alive and kicking among our English-centric, Muslim-hating, national tabloid media.
The motto “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story” still holds fast.
Several facts are overlooked. The Cadbury’s website address advertising the Egg hunting event has the word Easter in it and it links an advert for the event with plenty of references to Easter including one hastily airbrushed in as damage limitation for the backlash.
If we are to believe he was quoted literally, The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said the ban was tantamount to “spitting on the grave” of the committed Christian founder of the chocolate company, John Cadbury.
Except that Mr Cadbury was a Quaker – a religious group that, while grounded in Christian beliefs, does not celebrate Easter, Christmas or any other festivals in the Christian calendar.
Easter may be a Holy Week commemorating the death and the triumphant resurrection of Christ, but more deeply – it’s about rebirth and renewal.
The actual word Easter is believed to be based on a Pagan Festival celebrating an Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Spring called Eostre (note the name) that the early Christian church latched on to.
Whatever the background of Easter – it has been secularised for decades in the same way that Christmas has. Go into any supermarket and search for chocolate eggs with the word Easter on them. They are few and far between.
In the wake of yesterday’s media story many on Twitter (usually with Union Jack’s on their profile picture) said they would boycott Cadbury’s products as a protest.
Not possible in my house. My grandsons and I are just addicted to Freddos.
As it happens this cobbled up story turned out to be a “storm in an eggcup” As the hysteria died down, more important and pressing international stories quite rightly dominated the broadcast news agenda once more.
I have to add the caveat that I am a practising Christian, I sing in our small local church choir. Easter is an important time of year for me and we have been learning music for weeks for the services that encompass Holy Week. I make no secret or apology about my beliefs.
I respect the views of my Atheist, Muslim, Jewish, Hindi and Buddhist friends and they respect my beliefs.
Most of them are entirely indifferent to whether or not the word Easter is included in a popular children’s event.