A CHILDISH habit of making fun out of the traditional Christmas narrative could land you in hot water in a west of Catholic primary school. In the classic Christmas carol Adeste Fidelis, sung in Latin, you soon encounter the line regem angelorum. To a daft 10-year-old the temptation to sing very loudly “raging angelorum” while laughing at the concept of big winged creatures flapping about with scowls on their beatific coupons was sometimes too much to resist.

Many years later I encountered a degree of polite but intense hostility from some clerics when I told them that as Jesus, being the son of God, never did anything by accident there had to be a good reason why he chose the marriage feast of Cana as the location of his first miracle. I’ve always since been fortified by the Almighty’s endorsement of getting occasionally howling with the drink, especially if it’s in a good cause (like a wedding) and for the spreading of good cheer.

Some Christians I know tend to chafe and get overly defensive when vile atheists make fun of some of our practices. They are keen to stress their saviour’s status as both God and Human and yet curiously never to entertain the concept that He had a sense of humour ... or that being both God and Man He actually created humour.

Jesus spent the three years of his public ministry upsetting the religious authorities and giving them a hard time. It’s not difficult to imagine Him in a Galilee tavern favoured by fishermen with his apostles and Mary Magdalene and the other women who followed him having a few drinks and a laugh at the efforts of some of the local Sanhedrin to silence Him. “Verily, like herding cats, cats and thrice cats,” as a top Pharisees was reported to have said in one of the Dead Sea Scrolls that never made it.

Thus I was initially entertained by reports that our Prime Minister, Theresa May, who claims to be a woman of profound Christian faith, seems also to possess a sense of humour where The Lord is concerned. Mrs May regularly attends St Andrews Anglican church in Sonning, Hertfordshire by the Thames, a place once described by Jerome K Jerome as “the most fairy-like little nook on the whole river”. Social deprivation and inequality exist on a different planet to this place.

Commendably, Mrs May has never equivocated about her Christian faith. “I've been clear and everybody knows that faith plays a part in my life and faith guides me in everything I do. The Church does so much and it is an integral part of our society but it also does a lot of work overseas and that is important too.” It was probably this which lay behind her Government’s decision to conduct a review into the persecution suffered by Christians around the globe but principally in the Middle East where the faith is currently at risk of being wiped out of the region of its birth.

I’m in no position to doubt Mrs May’s sincerity and at least she doesn’t wield her faith like a sword of righteousness to justify war and acts of military aggression. Nor does she suffer from America’s great Christian delusion which requires every inhabitant of the White House to profess Christianity while laying waste to entire cultures and torturing their enemies while allowing their richest corporate beasts to make fortunes in the wake.

Indeed the Prime Minister possesses more sincerity about her faith than Tony Blair, one of her predecessors at Number Ten. Mr Blair’s faith, you sensed was a watery and featureless thing which blew with the winds of any prevailing social orthodoxy. It was glimpsed when he felt there were votes to be won with it and concealed when he sensed it was a vote-loser. Rather, Mrs May’s version of Christianity seems to be made of sterner stuff and helped her deal with the trauma of losing both her parents while she was in her mid-20s, and the realisation that she could not have children.

Yet, while taking care not to mock our premier’s faith you do find yourself hoping that one of the BBC’s house-trained political staff might ask her about the parables of the widow’s mite or the storming of the temple or the eye of the needle the next time she claims justification by faith. No-one’s suggesting here that Tories and affluent people will be judged more harshly than the rest of us, just that there is a golden thread of social justice running through the teachings of Christ which seems to be profoundly at odds with current Conservative and Unionist social policy. The human consequences of some of her Government’s social policies are inescapable even for someone who lives with a multi-millionaire hedge fund operator on “the most fairy-like little nook on the entire river”.

Actively using your Government’s political advantages to penalise the most vulnerable in our society is unforgivable at any time. To do so while granting tax advantages – yet again – to those who can easily do without them is simply wicked. Deliberately to exacerbate the suffering of women who have become pregnant as the result of rape by making them dance for a little extra money is obscene. To give credence to the lie that we need Brexit to stop foreigners taking our jobs and leeching from us is not only evil – it’s highly dangerous. Some might even say that any social disorder ensuing from Brexit and resulting in martial law being imposed is exactly the historic opportunity for which some of Mrs May’s adherents have been waiting for several generations. They are sure to channel their inner Joabs.

Conservative ideology on either side of the Atlantic has leaned heavily on Pentecostalism and Evangelicalism to disguise many of the seven deadly sins of reactionary corporate governance. Pride, Gluttony and Greed are the main totems of Mrs May’s administration. No one, though, could accuse it of Sloth when exploiting the suffering of others.

In an ideal world the UK’s main Christian faiths – and especially the Catholic church – would be calling the Prime Minister to account for the way in which she casually deploys faith in times such as these. But when you’ve lost your moral authority to speak owing to widespread, historic clerical sex abuse this is impossible. So who is there to stand in this gap?