Showing posts with label Secularism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Secularism. Show all posts

Saturday, 6 April 2013

JACKSON MIDDLE SCHOOL - A LESSON FOR US ALL

by Colin Bloom

Yesterday I wrote about why when it comes to religious freedom we should never, ever relax. We should certainly never give in to the aggressive secularists, whether here in the United Kingdom or the United States or elsewhere, we must stand and defend what is ours and reclaim that which has been taken.

Let me give you an example that I came across in the United States last week. It is the sad story of Jackson Middle School, Ohio, where for the past 66 years a portrait of Jesus has been hanging in their entrance hall. 
The picture of Jesus that was
hanging in Jackson Middles School

The portrait didn't belong to the school, but to one of the student clubs. However, some radical and aggressive secularists from the FFRF (Freedom from Religion Foundation) and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) decided to take the school to court for their unconstitutional promotion of religion in a public school. As if there weren't more pressing matters to deal with in American schools...

It is worth noting that between the FFRF and the ACLU they have an annual budget of more than $100m to fight these cases.

Despite nobody complaining, despite it harming nobody, despite this picture hanging there benignly since the 1940's, the School's board took down the picture of Jesus because their insurance company declined to cover litigation expenses.

The school Superintendent said, "At the end of the day, we just couldn't roll the dice with taxpayer money, when you get into these kinds of legal battles, you're not talking about money you can raise with bake sales and car washes. It's not fair to take those resources from our kids' education."

It's often said that when America sneezes the UK catches a cold. I happen to think we are fighting this disease of aggressive secularism together. The time has already come when people need to decide what side of the argument they want to be on. It's not a question of whether we want the debate or not; these well funded organisations are going to be bringing the fight to a school, home or shop near you. 

Jackson Middle School thought it would be teaching lessons to a small community in South Ohio. They can take some small comfort in the knowledge that because of what they've been through there is a lesson for us all.

Friday, 5 April 2013

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.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM

by Colin Bloom

Is antidisestablishmentarianism the longest word in the English language? Even if it isn't I doubt I will ever write an article with a one word title this long again.

For the record, I am not an Anglican but I love the Church of England. I've never been an Anglican but I will fight to keep it as our Nation's 'established' church. I am happy to be described as an antidisestablishmentarianist, it should be on my business card.

As a conservative (note little 'c') as well as a Conservative, it is in my instinct to want to keep what is good about our nation. Little 'c' conservatives live by the maxim, don't fix what ain't broke, and there is no argument that has yet persuaded me that our ancient heritage of having an Established church does us any harm. On the contrary, I would argue it is something to be rather proud of, and something that makes us stronger and more settled.

One of the benefits of an Established church of England is that we have Bishops sitting in the House of Lords; called the 'Lords Spiritual' they are made up of the five great 'sees' Canterbury, York, Durham, London and Winchester, followed by the next twenty-one most senior Bishops from across the Country. Whilst it is extremely rare for all twenty-six Bishops to be in the House of Lords at the same time, they are an highly influential and important bloc in the upper house.

The secularists hate the idea of a Lords Spiritual. They froth and foam at the thought that these unelected prelates, that follow some imaginary deity, have privileges that their enlightened ranks don't enjoy. They don't just want an end to the Established church, they also want an end to prayers before Council Meetings, faith schools, prison chaplains and Easter marches of Witness. The secularism agenda is clear, they want disestablishment; they probably wouldn't mind getting rid of the monarchy too. Let's face it, most are anarchists or marxists or both.

Yesterday a veteran of Parliament and I were chatting about this very subject and we concluded that should disestablishment ever get to a vote in the House of Commons, the majority of the Labour Party would probably vote in favour of it, perhaps all but one Liberal Democrat would vote in favour of it and maybe only fifty of the three hundred Conservatives would vote to break the Church and State relationship. It was, we imagined, quite an irony that if such a vote were to take place, the fate of the Bishops in the 'other place' would be precariously balanced in the hands of Conservatives MP's, a group who recently have not been best pleased with the 'tone' from the Lords Spiritual.

As I said at the beginning, I love it the way it is, and I want our Bishops to be free to speak their mind and be free to vote as their conscience leads them, their strength is their independence. Long may they enjoy the freedom to speak their minds as God leads them in the Upper House.

However, and it is a very hesitant and gentle however, the Bishops might want to work a little harder at keeping their friends and making new ones in the House of Commons and with the general populous. With great fear and trepidation I would venture that they might want to reflect on articles like this in the Daily Mail regarding Iain Duncan Smith's welfare reforms (extremely popular with the voters we hear). 

It's my hope that in four hundred years time the UK will still have a Lords Spiritual, an Established church and free thinking, independent, God fearing bench* of Bishops. I just hope we don't have to vote on it soon.

*the collective noun for Bishops really is 'bench'.