“Did you hear the one about the Irish referendum, the Scottish Church Assembly, the Ulster bakery and the English politician?” If you want to know more, check out the article: “After sleepwalking where culture leads, is the church finally waking up?” written by David Robertson, newly appointed moderator of the Free Church of Scotland. It is not my purpose to describe and ponder at length on what he had to say other than comment that what he did say had that rare wow factor and ability to hit the nail on the head regarding what is now happening in our culture, how Christians who stand firm for their beliefs and act according to their conscience are increasingly having to face an aggressive, secular, anti-Christian backlash and the importance of the old adage that to be forewarned is to be forearmed. But first some definitions found on the Internet:
A culture war is a struggle between two or more sets of conflicting cultural values: so-called traditionalist or conservative values and so-called progressive or liberal.
Anti-semitism is prejudice against, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews as a national, ethnic, religious, or racial group.
Islamophobia is the dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force.
Going back to the first quote, the Irish referendum was discussed in an earlier blog of mine as was the Asher’s baker affair. One of the outcomes of the Scottish Church Assembly was allowing clergy to enter into same sex marriage and as for the politicians, three high profile ones (Caroline Dinenage, Tim Farron and Nicky Morgan) have recently publicly repented for not voting for the UK same sex marriage bill in the wake of powerful pressure for them to do so. It is easier, after all, to go with the flow than swim against the tide, as many, including me, have found out to our cost. But homosexuality is not what I want to blog about given I have already discussed it at length, but rather the culture war (a term linked to the US situation but applies also to the UK) that is taking place, and in particular the quite sensitive subjects of anti-semitism and islamophobia.
The mounting sentiment toward anti-discrimination and equality and against intolerance and judgment attitudes has positive aspects. I have no doubt that in the case of Jews and Muslims there have been numerous instances where this bad stuff has happened and that is to our shame as a country. Looking over my life, while I do not wish to take the moral high ground on such matters, I like to think I have played my part and more in challenging such wrong behavior and there are many Muslim and Jewish folk I have a high regard for and whose well being is something that especially concerns me. But I fear for many the equality agenda plays scant regard to societal inequalities e.g. the rich poor divide and often amounts to a new form of fascism where one has to accept certain norms that are no longer linked to a judaeo-christian world view and sometimes the very opposite, or pay a high price, and often laws are made that have undesirable side effects (sledgehammer approach).
I stumbled across an article recently, albeit more to do with the situation in the USA but may apply here in the UK, with the intriguing title: “To critics of the academic boycott of Israel: What about “academic freedom” for the children of Gaza?” The author argues that people who criticize Israel could be and in some cases are regarded as anti-Semitic and penalized according. We are seeing something similar here regarding Islam. I doubt whether most of our national leaders understand the true nature of Islam (including a political dimension) and understand why they would want to provide maximum leeway for Muslims to operate in a safe and peaceful environment. As I have already said, I believe this is needed but not at the price of free speech, especially when it happens to be true, for the consequence of curtailing such and not taking heed to what the free speakers have to say can be to the common detriment.
Without wanting to sound like a record playing the same thing over and over again, I feel I need to point to my earlier “A time to speak” blog. It is safer and often leads to a quiet life not to speak and there is a need to weigh words to avoid unnecessary upsetting others etc., but equally, if we let these things slip, as I fear we doing at an alarmingly increasing rate, if will bode badly for the country. I hope I have no axe to grind other than as a gospel preacher, who serves my community, who has (I hope) clearly laid out my stall.
Without wanting to cherry pick verses from the Bible, one of the verses that had a profound effect on me in my early years and motivate me now, and one I fear Christians, especially the leaders, overlook, is that we (who are Christians) “should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” Jude 1:3. For those Christians under the cosh, it has to be back to the two great commands to do with loving God and loving our neighbour.