“The poor must be punished – it is their only hope for salvation!” declared Clive Firkin, of the Blue Rapture Society, a shady Christian fundamentalist organisation with links to the British political right, during a fringe meeting at the recent Tory Party conference. “It’s no good keep mollycoddling them with hand outs and sympathy – only through misery and despair will they be forced to repent their sins and reject their evil lifestyle of indigence and sloth!” It isn’t just poverty which the controversial group equates with sin, teaching that sickness and disability are also the results of wicked lifestyles. “It is their over-indulgence in the sins of the flesh which put these people in wheelchairs and hospital beds,” Firkin told the packed meeting. “If they would only take Jesus into their hearts then we could empty our hospitals and care centres, saving the country billions!” Whilst the meeting itself was attended mainly by rank and file delegates, rumours abound in Westminster that Blue Rapture has a significant influence on at least one Cabinet Minister. “Ian Duncan Smith’s Christianity is no secret, just as it is no secret that his religious views have informed his approach to welfare reform at the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP),” explains Arthur Wince, political correspondent of the Daily Norks. “But his increasingly hard line stance, removing benefits from the most needy with things like the ‘Bedroom Tax’ and now this proposal to withdraw all benefits from those aged under twenty five, is looking remarkably similar to the line taken by Blue Rapture.”

According to one source, however, it isn’t so much a case of Ian Duncan Smith’s policies being influenced by Blue Rapture as the minister’s beliefs influencing Blue Rapture. “The fact is that he believes that the rapture predicted by Christian fundamentalists has actually happened,” the anonymous source – who apparently holds a senior position in the DWP – has told Wince. “Duncan Smith thinks that those with pure souls have already ascended to heaven, leaving the sinners behind to face the End Times!” Consequently, the Secretary of State thinks that it is his mission to punish the poor for their sins, believing that by doing so he will guarantee his place, not just in paradise, but at God’s right hand. “That’s how he rationalises being left behind himself,” the source informed the newspaperman. “That he’s been entrusted with a special mission by the almighty, to use the time of tribulation to force as many of the sinners as possible to repent!”

Whilst Wince has been unable to establish any formal links between Blue Rapture and Ian Duncan Smith, the organisation’s leader makes no secret of his admiration for the Tory minister. “Mr Duncan Smith is something of a role model for all Blue Rapture believers, putting our principles into practice.” Clive Firkin enthused in a recent interview with Wince. “In many ways he is far in advance of us in theological terms. His belief that the rapture has already occurred, for instance, was a revelation to us – we had merely believed it to be imminent and our original mission was to prepare the faithful for the event. But since analysing his position, we have realised that our true mission is to punish the sinners who remain behind in order to ensure our own salvation.” According to Firkin, people like himself who find themselves left behind, despite their faith, are being tested. “We represent those who have stumbled in the past, committed the odd sin before finding or returning to the true path,” he explained. “For my own part, I make no secret of my previous convictions for fraud, embezzlement and indecent exposure – I was under a lot of stress at the time and stumbled, but found my way back to Jesus. All I have to do is pass this last test and my place in heaven will be assured.”

But what sort of sin could Ian Duncan Smith have committed to result in his being left behind? Whilst Firkin is reluctant to speculate, he did point to Duncan Smith’s claims, whilst Tory leader, that he had studied at Perugia University, which proved to be untrue, as a possible cause. However, Wince’s DWP source suspects that Duncan Smith himself doesn’t consider that he has committed any sins in the conventional sense. “He thinks that he’s been left behind to fulfil his divine mission to punish the poor,” the source has claimed. “He keeps joking that the only sin he is guilty of having committed is in having been too soft on the poor and vulnerable in the past!” According t the source, Duncan Smith is planning to shift his campaign of punishment up another gear. “He’s worried that the final reckoning of Armageddon will come before he’s been able to save their souls through repentance,” the source informed Wince during their most recent secret meeting. “He fears that David Cameron is hell-bent on bringing about the final conflict as soon as possible – he’s secretly grateful for Ed Miliband derailing that attempt to take military action against Syria.”

For this next phase of punishment, Duncan Smith reportedly won’t be satisfied with simply taking their benefits away. “He’s been getting us to draw up plans involving vats of boiling oil, hot irons and the like,” Wince’s source has alleged. “The plan is to start with the long-term unemployed, forcing them to report to their local Job Centre on a daily basis, where they’ll be subjected to all sorts of horrendous tortures by the DWP employees there if they don’t repent or take a zero hours contract with Tesco or Burger King.” Although repulsed by such proposals, the DWP source stops short of accusing Duncan Smith of being insane. “I know all his talk of us living in post-rapture times might seem crazy, but when you look at the state of the world, you have to concede that he might have a point,” the source explained to Wince. “I mean, there are strange and evil beasts roaming the land – how many of those bankers have buggered off abroad like they promised? Then there are all those drug addicts, sex offenders, bad parents and the like the tabloids fill their pages with on a daily basis – it certainly gives the impression that only the dregs of humanity are currently inhabiting the earth. Where are all the good people? The government is led by a bunch of braying rich evil bastards and the oppositiom are equally crap. Even most priests are peados! It’s enough to make the sanest man think we’re all doomed!”