As followers of my blog will know, among my many interests, including religion, politics, international affairs, community activity and addressing issues around social injustice, I take a particular interest in following latest developments in the culture wars taking place, not only in the US but here too in the UK. I do so because as a Christian believer that sees so many possibilities around doing social justice it is possible to become a victim of the culture wars raging round us if we refuse to bow to the cultural status quo. Besides attack on conscience and liberty, it has a bearing on how one can engage in the public square and the victims of the war may be the poor and vulnerable we try to serve. While I have got off relatively lightly, although no doubt I too have been a victim, I am one that refuses to shut up and am intent on doing what needs to be done, I know for some it hasn’t been so easy, and if I don’t speak, then who will? All of which nicely leads me on to the recently breaking story of the BBC presenter and the prison worker (and also the lawyer).
My latest example is around the “Christian Prison Worker (Barry Trayhorn) Forced to Quit After Quoting What Bible Says About Homosexuality”. The story is that “whilst leading worship at a chapel service in May 2014, Trayhorn spoke about the wonder of God’s forgiveness for those who repent, quoting 1 Cor. 6:9-11 from memory. The verses mention a number of sins, including adultery, homosexual practice, greed and drunkenness”. As a result he found himself in trouble with the authorities, accused of homophobia, disciplined and later to lose his job. I should state two things. Firstly, as a preacher myself, mindful there are “difficult” texts in the Bible, I believe my calling is to preach God’s word without fear of or favour to men. Secondly, because I don’t know all the ins and outs, I reserve judgment on how Barry Trayhorn was treated, but with a sense of disquiet that his treatment may have been because he did not preach what the authorities deemed as being acceptable, despite him wanting primarily to preach what was acceptable to God.
Understandably, both the media and organizations, such as the Christian Institute and Christian Concern, got wind of the story and this leads me to my second report: “BBC presenter leaves job after calling Christian a ‘bigot’”. The story begins: “During his breakfast show on BBC Three Counties Radio two weeks ago, Iain Lee clashed with solicitor Libby Powell when discussing the case of a prison worker who was forced out of his role for quoting the Bible on homosexuality. During the exchange, Lee called Powell a “bigot” in response to her saying that the Bible is the word of God”. From what I can make out different people have reacted differently because of what happened, supporting one or the other side, but forcing an apology from the presenter and him leaving the show (whether pushed or jumped, it is not clear). Having listened to the interview, my take is that Lee was vitriolically provocative and Powell was over-accommodating and should have taken the view not to cast pearls before swine. But that is my personal view, but I have no doubt that stories like that of the Christian Prison Worker and BBC Presenter, will continue to unfold as the culture wars continue, and my advice to those like me who wish to engage in community activity in the public square is both to be wise as to what we are up against and to hold our nerve by obeying God rather than man.