We are leaving the EU; Bells are going to ring or are they?

One of the main new stories in today’s leading UK newspaper (The Sun) was the debate over whether Big Ben should ring to celebrate the UK leaving the EU, at the time this happens. Besides whether or not there is the will and resolve for this happen there is the matter of a half a million pounds sterling needed (I understand Big Ben is currently undergoing major refurbishments and it will cost that to suspend and resume work) and who is going to pay? While it is true, I will celebrate our leaving the EU, I am not over keen to rub the noses “in it” of those who don’t feel that way. Whether or not Big Ben will ring, I not only cannot say but I do not have a strong opinion either way and I wonder if we are talking storms in tea cups.

While I was drinking my tea, having finished with the Sun, I did my usual thing and checked out latest postings on my Facebook page. Two memes particularly struck me that were related to bell ringing when we leave the EU, which I parked to return to later and which I now share here (the second of which is rather silly and insulting to those church folks who don’t share the poster’s politics yet regard themselves as patriots – with or without sandals!). While my own church does not do bells, I rather like bell ringing and see it as a fine English tradition I would like us to retain. But I’d rather it be confined to its traditional role to announce worship services and celebrate weddings etc. and not hijacked by those with a political agenda even if it is one that, in the main, I happen to agree with.

In this case I disagree with “Leave UK”, who posted the memes. While I normally agree with them and welcome some of their alerting, supporting as I do Britain leaving the EU without further ado, and moreover look forward to the time this happens and supportive of their right to celebrate the occasion, is that I don’t think church bells should ring for two main reasons. Firstly, Britain leaving the EU is a political decision albeit democratically arrived at, but churches should not be in the business of taking sides politically – theirs is to preach and practice the Gospel. Secondly, the subject of whether to leave or remain in the EU has been a divisive one and still is, and the church should not be about furthering division, which I fear ringing church bells will do, but rather to bring healing.

While I have in the past shared “Leave EU” memes because I believe they made important points I happen agree with, in this case I disagree. I feel rather than get side tracked on a foolish campaign (which this is), they should concentrate on keeping the pressure on the UK government so that we really do leave the EU and are not beholden to their threats or rules, by the end of 2020. Withdrawing at the end of the month is only the beginning of the journey of no longer belonging to the club called the European Union.

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