Another blog on this blog host recently wrote a rather sensationalist post entitled, England to ban Christianity. This particular blogger doesn't seem very good at engaging with comments from a different point of view, so I thought I'd jot down some thoughts, by way of a response, here.
So, the question before us is, Is England going to ban Christianity?
Short Answer: No.
Long Answer: No. Don't be ridiculous!
The post in question is a partial reprint (initially, without credit) of a piece on the CBN website, Britain's War on Christianity: America's Future Fight?
That piece is essentially a summary of the views of our country's so-called 'Christian Party'. So, bear in mind as you read the following words that this is essentially a party political broadcast, designed to provoke fear and engineer votes as a tactic to oppose the muslim/gay/liberal/feminist/green/postmodern/communist agenda. That's right folks, England's gone got it's own George Bush! (Bear in mind, also, that The Christian Party is a splinter group from The Christian People's Alliance. Members of The Christian Party left the CPA because it wasn't right-wing enough.)
According to the fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, policies of The Christian Party include:
- A proposed referendum on the reinstitution of the death penalty for severe crimes.
- Legislation to ban abortion.
- Curfews for under 11 year olds, with mandatory intervention of child protection agencies in relation to any child 10 years or younger that is found unaccompanied on the street after 9:00pm.
- The reintroduction of the right of teachers to use corporal punishment in extreme circumstances.
- Greater observance of a weekly day of rest (Sunday).
- Promotion in school of chastity before marriage.
- Re-instatement of Section 2A (also known as Section 28), a law to guard against the promotion of homosexuality.
- The re-introduction of corporate readings from the Bible in all Scottish state schools.
- Provision of Christian religious education on a mandatory basis, with no obligation to promote other faiths, regardless of the wishes of those being instructed or their parents. (There currently exists a level of compulsory Christian observance in all British schools, so these policies are calling for this to be increased.)
- A science curriculum which should "reflect the evidence of creation/design" in the universe.
- Public health campaigns to discourage homosexuality alongside excessive drinking and the use of addictive substances.
- The restoration of the right for parents to smack their children (as with prayer, this currently exists and the policy is a call for an increase).
- "Mind Pollution Levy" on 18 Certificate Films, DVDs, CDs, Video Games and Top Shelf magazines.
- Discouragement of the practice of addressing women as Ms..
- Opposition of the practice of altering birth certificates to reflect gender confirmation surgery.
- Promotion of Biblical alternatives to the current criminal justice system (whilst rejecting any promotion of Sharia law, or alternatives).
- To change the Welsh flag, because it views the red dragon as a satanic symbol.
Read enough, yet?
The CBN piece begins by stating:
British Christians who take their faith into the workplace risk being demoted or fired. The government continues to push an aggressive gay rights agenda, while threatening to criminalize Christian speech and practice.
I'm not sure what defines our governments commitment to human rights as "aggressive", let alone an "agenda", but that may be beside the point. Given my previous jobs, I've been in contact with a great many people who have been Christians in the workplace and there have been very few incidents of discrimination and no risks of being demoted or fired - at least, not for their religious persuasion. One person was asked to calm their overt Christian witnessing, but that's a far cry from criminalizing Christian speech and practice.
The piece also quotes Andrea Minichiello-Williams, the Director of Christian Concern for Our Nation. Andrea, who is known for being a bit of a pushy sensationalist warns that:
...if British Christians don't step up now, the nation is on a path to eventually criminalize the practice of Christianity in public.
"There's been a massive move by the secularist lobby to privatize religion," she said. "You can have faith so long as it doesn't affect you in the work place. So long as you don't bring it into the workplace. 'Just make it private. It can't be public. It can't affect what you do in the public square.'" (Andrea Minichiello-Williams, Director of Christian Concern for Our Nation)
I have to confess that every time I hear a Christian in the West complain about how they're treated, I tend to dismiss it as self-obsessed whinging. "I tell my work colleagues that they're going hell, refuse to work on Sundays even though the Job Description mentioned it and seek to cast demons out of any retarded customers - and they had the nerve to give me a written warning. Persecution!"
A fine example is provided by Hargreaves, who can complain about the treatment of Christians in the country, whilst boasting that:
"Daily prayers are said in parliament whether atheists like it or not," he added. "The queen is head of the Church of England and therefore has to acknowledge God for her sovereignty over the nation. These things are written, not just into our culture and our heritage, but into our constitution."
Well, which is it, George? Either the gospel is being attacked and Christians are being betrayed by the their own country, or actually the establishment itself is designed to defend your interests. Bishops in the House of Lords, anyone?! These whingy-pants need to go and spend some time with Christians in Pakistan or The Sudan!
More than that, open up a history book and read the experiences of the people of Christ throughout the ages. There are few promises of God that were more clearly fulfilled for the likes of the anabaptists than these:
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Tim. 3:12)
You don't hear many "Name it & Claim it" Preachers spouting that one, do you? However, if Hargreaves was to read his Bible, or learn something about Christians who have really sufferered for their Faith, he'd see that it is in such times that the Church has grown the most. You see, this thing of ours was never meant to be a comfortable power-trip. I understand that it can feel painful to step-down from the Emperor's throne, but it may well be the best thing that ever happened to the Church in the UK.
The funny thing is, I work in one of the most 'politically correct' arenas in our nation and I've never been cautioned for my Christian practice. In fact, mercy, long-suffering, forgiveness, generosity, loving kindness... they're all pretty much encouraged. Or, when we say 'Christian practice', do we really mean something else? Do we mean narrow-mindedness, inflexibility, insensitivity and good old-fashioned rudeness? As if I didn't think I knew the answer to this, here's more from the article:
Christian Kwabena Peat was forced to attend homosexual sensitivity training at work, administered by a lesbian.
And that's a problem, because? Surely we're not suggesting that Kwabena Peat shouldn't be sensitive towards homosexuals? The weird thing about this is the unobjective use of the word 'forced'. I'm 'forced' to go to training all of the time. True, I get to choose some that I think will be relevant to my role. However, most of the time I get 'forced' to go on the same kind of statutory training as everyone else. (Recently, I was even 'forced' to go on Racial Awareness Training. The shame of it!)
Then Peat wrote a letter to the sensitivity trainer, explaining the Bible's position on homosexuality, and that God loved her and Peat loved her. He was suspended.
I'd say that a suspension is a bit harsh, but pretty predictable. I've no idea why Peat is writing such things to his employer. It was a stupid idea and he needs to get on and do his job and learn the role that he is there to perform.
Peat was just recently reinstated. But cases like his are repeated over and over. Doctors, Nurses, adoptive parents, deemed unfit because of their Christian beliefs. Christians are told not to speak about God in the workplace or they could be punished for offending homosexuals or Muslims.
Again, I don't see the problem. However, I do find it hilarious that the (supposed) reason given for this is that Christian's talking about God in the workplace is offensive to 'homosexuals and Muslims'. Because, presumably, neither believe in God?!
At one time, Britain was the missionary base for the entire world, even sending missionaries to the new American colonies. But today, the cases of anti-Christian bigotry and discrimination have risen sharply.
At one point, Britian was also a great Empire that took over any Land it fancied and spread its influence and cultural hegemony in the name of the Lord. I'm not sure that the missionary history of Great Britain should be celebrated quite so indiscriminately! I'm also not at all sure why our history somehow justifies a presumed sense of Christian privilege.
Hargreaves point here finally reveals that what he, Minichiello-Williams and others are really bemoaning is the loss of Christian superiority in the West. It's no longer as easy for Christians to get their own preferences met in the House of Commons, the law courts, the Inland Revenue, the schools, hospitals, hotels, the Media, workplaces...
"There's been a massive move by the secularist lobby to privatize religion," she said. "You can have faith so long as it doesn't affect you in the work place. So long as you don't bring it into the workplace. 'Just make it private. It can't be public. It can't affect what you do in the public square.'"
Which is pretty much the same as one's political views. I'm not yet sure why this is a problem. I don't want a Muslim woman at work to be telling me how my faith is wrong, but hers is correct. I don't want a Mormon guy condemning me, whilst telling me how to find salvation through his chosen religion. If I'm at work I want them both to - surprisingly enough - do their fricken jobs!
I think I've said (far more than) enough, but there are a couple of points that I'll just finish by responding to:
Christian lawyer Paul Diamond has been very successful in defending discrimination cases against Christians in the courts.
Which, of course, is another way of admitting that the courts uphold the cases of Christians, far more often than not!
"In the United Kingdom the homosexual agenda is militant," he said. "The power shift began in about 2000, and they've been arresting Christians, jailing Christians for hate crimes, shutting off grants, constant litigation with the government, constant aggression.
I'm quite irritated by the careless use of words here. "They've been arresting Christians" reflects the experiences of how many Christians, exactly? And what percentage of the total number of Christians in the UK does that equate to? When we have that figure, I'm fairly sure it won't take a skilled mathematician to work out if it is higher or lower than the number of Muslims, or Blacks, or teenagers who are wrongly arrested each year in the UK.
So, how do Christians respond to those injustices? Strangely, they are mostly silent.
Islam continues to advance in the UK in large part because the government and media give it almost a protected status, while essentially persecuting its own state religion, Christianity.
It is true that the British media, along with the handling of some laws in some parts, appears to give Islam a protected status. Yet, what the piece fails to examine, not to any great surprise, are the underlying sociological reasons for this. These would include the guilt and subsequent over-sensitivity of majority cultures to the minorities sharing the land, a fear of offending minority cultures (often provoked by such guilt), media over-representation of the connection between Islam and terrorism, as well as that stalwart of British culture - racism.
I do believe that an over-sensitivity to issues of political correctness can lead to a nasty pendulum swing. It is such things that groups like the BNP depend upon, which is why they can be so dangerous. However, I don't think it helps to place the blame for such an issue within the minority cultures themselves. What nastier way can there be to ignore the concerns of minority groups than to dismiss their talk of (and work towards) equality as an "agenda"?
Many believe the architect of Britain's new anti-Christian culture was former Prime Minister Tony Blair, a professed Christian who championed gay rights.
I find that a strange statement. For a start, Blair was voted in with a massive majority. Though he was a disappointment to many of us, it's not as if he personally invented the kinder and more polite aspects of British society. However, what is most strange about this is that it is nothing less than an admission that Hargreaves and co. only represent one side of the Christian public in Britain. And if the election failures of groups like the CPA and The Christian Party are anything to go by, they represent a very small side. (How dishonest that makes the reporting in the CBN piece, I'll leave for others to decide.)
"Do you know who Obama reminds every British person of? Tony Blair," Diamond said.
Ummm... as a British person, let me just say, No, he doesn't. And if he did, I'd be praying that he would follow through on his promises and be the embodiment of Christian speech and practice that some had hoped Blair would be.
Is England going to ban Christianity? No, it isn't. However, the real question I think we need to be asking is, Are British Christians going to live-up to teachings and example - in word of speech - of him they call their Lord? If so, whether Christianity is banned or not is of secondary importance.