Showing posts with label Religious Freedom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Religious Freedom. Show all posts

Friday, 5 April 2013

DON'T LOSE HOPE

by Colin Bloom

Earlier today I received a Tweet asking me how, in the face of such liberal totalitarianism, I don't lose hope. The Tweeter sent me the question after I posted this article on Religious Freedom. It's a good question, but one that can't be answered in just 140 characters. So this is might slightly more considered response.

There are three points I would make, although I'm sure there is a lot more to say on  the subject.

The first is that, most people, indeed most Christians don't seem to care about the rising tide of aggressive secularism. It totally passes them by, maybe because seeing beyond the busyness and priorities of their own lives would require too much effort. Even though we are all guilty of doing that; guilty of making our own momentary concerns seemingly of far greater importance than the bigger issues, I see many people who are rising to the challenge. From my vantage point I am optimistic that the number of people who are 'getting it' is growing.

The second point is one that I would be a bit stronger on; as Christians we need to get more comfortable wearing the full armour of God. That armour is to be used in both defense and offense, but the more we wear the armour, the more comfortable it becomes. Whilst never forgetting that we follow the Prince of Peace, we need to remember that He was also the Lion of Judah!  So long as we model ourselves on Jesus, remembering grace, mercy and love, we wont go too far wrong.

Finally, I don't lose hope because rightly or wrongly I take tremendous encouragement from the following scripture: 2 Chronicles 20: This is what the Lord says to you: "Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s."

So we won't lose hope, not now, not ever. We have it as an anchor for our souls, firm and secure.

WHEN IT COMES TO RELIGIOUS FREEDOM, WE MUST NEVER, EVER RELAX

St Mary Undercroft, the servants' chapel beneath Parliament
by Colin Bloom

When it comes to religious freedom in the UK, the US and around the world, we must never, ever relax. David Cameron calls them aggressive secularists, he's right, but they are so much worse than that. They will never stop, never grow tired, never give up, never give in until they reach their goal of what they call 'ending religious privilege'. They won't be satisfied until God and all his followers are ultimately driven out of public consciousness.

Nearly a millennia years ago the Kings of England lived in the Palace of Westminster and the Royal court worshipped in St. Stephen's Chapel. Nowadays St Stephen's is the main entrance into Central Lobby, where written into the tiled floor are the opening lines from Psalm 127. "Unless the Lord builds the House, the workers labour in vain."

Deep in the bowels of Parliament is one of the most beautiful Christian chapels in the country. Called St Mary Undercroft, it was originally the chapel for the Palace servants and staff, whilst the Royalty used St Stephen's Chapel, it was the King's servants who went down into the Undercroft. Fittingly, it's still the case today that servants of the King, Christ the King, can still meet for Christian worship, prayer and services. It is still the case that Parliamentarians and their families, with permission, can have a Church of England marriage in the Chapel.

Recently there has been much furore because of a threat by a Labour MP to try and get St Mary Undercroft turned into a multi faith, or non faith room. An attempt that we are soothingly assured will not get very far because the status of the chapel is that of a 'Royal Peculiar' meaning that only the Queen can change its designation. We've been here before, we've had soothing words and reassurances but the relentless tide of secularism still comes in.

Let me describe what a Secular United kingdom will look like:

No Chaplains in Military bases, hospitals, schools, police stations or prisons. No faith schools. No prayers before Council Meetings and before Parliament. No Lords Spiritual. No Church of England as the 'Established Church'. No state occasions that included anything spiritual; if the Royal Family survived (and they probably wouldn't under these liberal totalitarianists) but if they did, Royal Weddings would have to be in a Registry Office, the next coronation would be held in Windsor's Civic Centre. No charitable status for faith groups (why should we give tax breaks to people that believe in fairies). No funding going to World Vision, Tear Fund, the Red Cross, Cafod, Save the Children, Christian Aid etc etc. No Easter March of Witness in your Town Centre, no public plays of the Passion. If you believe in anything supernatural, you would have to do it in your own buildings with the doors and windows shut! A Secular UK would be a soulless, grey and ultimately harsh place.

I've written about being an antidisestablishmentarianist before, and I am more convinced than ever that we need to do more than just stand our ground, we need to start taking back the ground that has been lost. We do not want to create a theocracy, we live comfortably with differences of opinion, but when we see acts of cultural and religious vandalism brought into our spaces, we cannot be neutral, we must wear what the Apostle Paul calls the 'Full Armour of God' and fight back.