Lord Carey and “Persecuted” Christians

When I read the cover of today’s Daily Mail I groaned. Lord Carey does not speak for me, or for many of the Christians I know, and we wince at the statements he’s made.

Carey personally attacked Cameron saying:

‘It was a bit rich to hear that the Prime Minister has told religious leaders that they should “stand up and oppose aggressive secularisation” when it seems that his government is aiding and abetting this aggression every step of the way. At his pre-Easter Downing Street reception for faith leaders, he said that he supported Christians’ right to practise their faith. Yet many Christians doubt his sincerity.’

In the Mail article Carey also drew on a new poll that showed over 2/3 of Christians in the UK feel like a “persecuted minority”.

My thoughts on this are:

1. Christians like myself are keen to say we do not echo Carey’s views. It is frustrating and embarrassing to be represented like this and he does not speak for the whole Church. This is not the first time Carey has spoken out like this and I’m sure it won’t be the last. It would be preferable not to give him so much media attention as it’s not really ‘new news’ that he holds these opinions.

2. “Discrimination” and “persecution” are two very different terms yet they are seemingly used interchangeably in these debates. I’ve noticed that the term discrimination seems to be used less and persecution used more in the past months. Persecution is an entirely inappropriate term to use in the context of the UK; only yesterday thousands of Churches took to the streets freely with Good Friday processions and outdoor services. We have incredible freedom here and that should be celebrated. The timing of this is bizarre too; after all, we are currently celebrating a long weekend off work based on the Christian festival of Easter  – hardly proof that Christian traditions and festivals are being sidelined.

3. Globally, Christians DO face terrible persecution. A brief look at an organisation like “Open Doors” will show that. Over 100 Christians are executed every month for their faith and many others face torture or labour camps. There is a well-researched Top 50 List of nations where Christians face the gravest danger. Funnily enough, the UK doesn’t feature in that Top 50. I wonder why… (!) If Christians in the UK genuinely feel persecuted, perhaps they should spend a week in North Korea or Saudi Arabia, which score 1st and 2nd on the list respectively. Perhaps after experiencing those nations, they would come back (if they make it back alive) and fill in their ComRes survey a little differently.

4. There are so many MORE important things the Church needs to be focused on. Souped-up claims of persecution are a total waste of precious energy, media and money. Carey fails to point out that the real way the government have failed to represent the Christian Gospel is in targeting the poor and vulnerable. Surely that is a much more important point to raise; the bedroom tax would be a good place to start. It’s concerning that these issues are not more centrally in focus.

5. The poll Carey is quoting was commissioned by The Coalition For Marriage. ComRes carried it out and they are an excellent and totally trustworthy source. However, I would like to see the exact wording of the questions, as clearly C4M are operating from a place where they’d very much want the survey to show that people DO feel persecuted. It’s important that we see the full text of the survey, as question can be phrased in a manner that achieves a desired outcome. I’d also like to see all the results from the survey, not just those in the Mail.

6. I’d like to see a greater number of people surveyed (this poll only questioned 535 people). They were said to be “regular Church-goers” which again may not represent the views of all “Christians” as those who feel less able to sign up to Carey’s type of views may feel themselves attending Church less as decisions about gay marriage and women bishops make them feel an unwelcome minority. So a poll should reach wider than “regular Church-goers” to get a fair sweep of “Christians”.

7. Cameron recently addressed faith leaders at a pre-Easter Downing Street reception.  A number of my friends were there. David was very positive toward people of faith. If you’re interested in reading the full transcript of what he said there, you can do so here: http://www.number10.gov.uk/news/transcript-of-prime-ministers-speech-at-downing-street-easter-reception/ He was warm and respectful, thanking faith group for all they contribute to our society.

8. We are no longer a Christian nation. Clinging on to a bygone era is pointless if it’s simply not true. We are a multi-cultural, multi-faith nation and that is the UK we find ourselves a part of today. It is a rich and wonderful place to live. Perhaps Christians feel begrudged that we have lost so much ground and power since the era of Christendom? Maybe the solution would be to remove the sense of privilege from Christian faith and create a more equal faith society – maybe then Christians would feel less persecuted as the focus would be on equality rather than assuming a privileged role in a nation that largely has left its Christian roots behind. I am a committed follower of Jesus, but I don’t expect UK citizens who do not subscribe to my religious views to have them imposed upon them. Currently with Bishop sitting in te House of Lords and the Queen as head of the Church, there are many reasons for non-Christians to feel a faith that they do not adhere to still wields a lot of power over their every day lives.

In summary: Ironically the Christians who are actually being discriminated against may be those who wince at the unrepresentative claims made by leaders like Lord Carey. After all, he gets the headlines and the loudest voice, yet doesn’t actually speak for many of us. But I for one would never dream of labelling that as “discrimination” or “persecution”.

Rather, my heart and prayers are with those in the Top 50 nations, facing torture, labour camps and execution. They could only dream of the freedoms we have here in the UK and we need to get a grip, grow up, and realise how good we’ve got it. Let’s instead give media attention and Church energy to feeding and protecting the poor and vulnerable in our nation – that would be a far better use of our time.

  • Sqn Ldr Alan Birt

    Yes, I’m with you all the way. A very good response to Lord Carey’s comments.
    Alan Birt

  • Sqn Ldr Alan Birt

    Yes, I’m with you all the way. A very good response to Lord Carey’s comments

  • Gabriel Cowley

    I agree. I think that anybody who uses the word ‘persecuted’ in the context of treatment of Christians in the UK would seem to have their eyes and ears closed to the rest of the world.

  • Yes.

  • Well said Vicky, I’ve worked with truly persecuted Christians around the world, particularly in East Asia and this strange victim mentality from certain sections of the UK church really needs to stop. We live in a democratic society so as Christians we won’t agree with every decision that is made by central or local government, but we also enjoy incredible freedom to practise and share our religion which many in the world can only dream of. We have Bishops sitting one of the countries legislative chambers!! It is insult to those who face the risk of losing their life every day to suggest that we are persecuted in this country. Lets spend less time looking inwards and making up problems and more time looking outwards to serve the poor and needy in this country and around the world and to bring the good news of Christ to all!

  • Your point about opinion polls reminded me of “Yes, Prime Minister – The Grand Design” where Sir Humphrey shows Bernard how they work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0ZZJXw4MTA

  • AJ

    Thanks Vicky, it’s a good point that we are no longer a Christian Nation but a question I have for you is this; What legislation would it take for you to swing your position and back a faith voice that opposes government policy -for example on abortion?

  • Anon

    Agree 1000%

  • Thank you Vicky said very well, we are not a persecuted people here in the UK & such a statement detracts from the work of organisations like open doors & gives the wrong message at Easter where churches here are still growing.

  • A few thoughts.

    First, to be fair to Carey, whose views I do not share, he seemed primarily to be reporting the impressions of others. He went on to say: “Their fears may be exaggerated because few in the UK are actually persecuted, but the prime minister has done more than any other recent political leader to feed these anxieties.” This is an important qualifying statement, I believe.

    Second, while Christians are very seldom persecuted for their beliefs in the UK, I think that many of us have experienced first hand having our beliefs and voices treated as irrelevant. It is one thing to be vehemently disagreed with, quite another to have your voice and concerns marginalized from the conversation. In my experience, as soon as many people know what you stand for or against (e.g. same-sex marriage), they won’t even bother to hear your arguments: your view just doesn’t have a place in modern society. This is bigoted and intolerant.

    Third, most Christians in the UK don’t belong to the mainstream of the Church of England and a huge percentage of us aren’t on board with many of the key orthodoxies of liberalism. Many of the denominations that we come from have a history of persecution or marginalization by the establishment, an important part of which is the mainstream of the Church of England, which claims to speak for us all. While those who belong to this mainstream and have their voices heard and places at the table may consider such persecution or marginalization ancient history, for many of us this history doesn’t feel so long in the past. It can strike many of us as a bit rich when establishment Christians tell us that we are not being persecuted and that our voices are being represented in society, when we know that voices like ours are often not being given a clear place at the table inside the established church and in wider society, or are being squeezed out. People say that we are just losing privilege as Christians, but many of us never enjoyed privilege in the first place.

    While I hate to use such a cliché, perhaps it might be worth asking whether those Christians who dismiss such concerns have checked their theological and ecclesiastical privilege lately… ;-)

  • What is going on with Lord Carey? He is a man for whom I have had the greatest respect – I was a member of his church in Durham in the 1980’s, and I rejoiced when he became Archbishop.
    I prayed for him regularly while he held that office, but since he has left it, I share your unease with the unhelpful articles he writes in the popular press.
    Does he really think these things? Or is this the Daily Mail’s agenda we’re hearing?

  • I think your thoughts are spot on except for using the term Bedroom Tax…It is not a bedroom tax. Tax are levied on Money earned, the
    government are trying to help people access social housing. According to
    Shelter 1.7million people are waiting for social housing, I think we should
    support the redistribution of welfare resources to those who
    need it most.

  • As you have highlighted, western Christians seem to know very little about the distinction between persecution and discrimination… We need to pray for those around the world who do live out their faith on persecutions knife edge. Thanks for sharing this and reminding me of the plight of the persecuted church

  • Vicky, I totally agree with you. You raise some important points here, which the wider media and public would do well to listen to. It’s important Christians speak out and are willing to engage with the wider community in these discussions.

    On LBC today directly after you was a man who said we were still a ‘Christian’ country and used our traditions and public holidays as evidence for this, and argued we should hold on to this – again, mistaking persecution for discrimination. The truth is, no matter how much we might dislike the fact, we are not a Christian country anymore. Only very small percentage of the population go to church regularly. The dominant religion of our nation now is secularism (though many do not see it as a religion, ironically, when it bears all the traits of one, and clear is one), and we cannot ignore this.

    Carey may mean well with his comments, but they do seem wide of the mark. We need more people speaking out like you clearly did today. Thanks for this post. Much needed.

  • Howard Wilkie

    What an excellent article! When will the Church concentrate on getting on with the task with which Christ has commissioned us? Instead it seems we too often concentrate on whinging on the sidelines. I feel so sad that once again a church leader has shown enormous negativity. Lord Carey’s article is just a distraction and gives credence to the view that we Christians only care about our own supposed rights and organisation. Fortunately, the message of Easter is completely different; if only Carey had written about that – although whether that would have interested the newspaper is another matter!

  • Vikki Climpson

    I do agree with you that the UK is not ‘persecuted’, but I do feel angry when I hear that Christian B&B owners don’t have a right to refuse a room in their own home to a gay couple, or a Christian has to go to court to be able to wear a cross around her neck at work when people of other faiths can wear symbols of their religions. I think maybe our country has become apathetic of its Christian roots, while bending over backwards to accommodate every other religion (probably due more than anything else to the existence of the European Court of Human Rights).

  • I agree entirely. Carey normally speaks a lot of sense, but in this instance I fear he is mistaken.

  • I agree with both Lord Carey and you to a certain extent. I think to point out that Christians across the world are tortured and executed etc and compare that to show that Christians in the UK are not persecuted is not a particularly good point – persecution happens in many forms and although we are free to practice our faith, I do think a majority of, if not all, Christians in the UK have experienced problems with people being dismissive of their faith and labelling them as homophobic etc. The individualistic nature of society, causing the attitude of ‘if it works for you then fine’ means it is harder to bring people to Jesus.

    On the other hand I agree with you that it is a massive waste of time trying to claim persecution like Lord Carey has done. We should not be concentrating on that at all. It really annoys me when I see fellow Christians claiming persecution about something or claiming offence – there’s no point in doing that. God says we will suffer for our faith and therefore we should expect it and carry on. That doesn’t mean we don’t stand up. But wasting time childishly claiming persecution from the government doesn’t help anyone under any circumstances. It makes Christians look like we’re moaners and whiners and it disillusions people.

  • Thanks David – good to hear your views.

  • Thanks for being honest Vikki. I guess what the UK are doing is simply trying to give equal rights to all religions represented here in the UK, which seems fair to me. If we were a nation where citizens en masse all subscribed to the Christian faith, I can see why we’d get privileged treatment. But as that’s no longer the case in the UK it seems odd to me that we’d expect other religions – or those of no faith – to have to bend to what we want?

  • Thanks Howard. I agree – there is so much good we could be getting on with! Thankfully many churches are and they should be in the headlines! Really appreciate your comment :)

  • Thanks James – appreciate you saying that. Now I wish I’d kept listening to LBC after my interview to hear that chap!

  • Thanks David – yes the spotlight on genuinely persecuted Christians needs to be given way more time and space. Glad you enjoyed the article :)

  • Thanks Carl. I agree that we need to house people who are desperate for accommodation. But the Bedroom Tax seems pretty half-baked as a solution – there aren’t enough 1 bedroom houses for people to move into when they are down-sized, so it’s not a real solution. But I agree with you that those represented by Shelter need our urgent help!

  • I really liked Carey too – he was Archbishop when I was growing up in Canterbury so I met him a couple of times. I really think he means well, but it’s very difficult to support him when he makes statements like the ones in the Mail today. Much as I’d like to give him my support I think today’s comments have lost me!

  • Lou

    I’m with you Vicky. It’s worrying when there is a broken world full of people lost in darkness without Jesus and time is wasted on side issues and not upon furthering the Kingdom!
    We don’t have a clue in the uk about persecution. Just a short plane journey away there are people – our Christian family – in fear of their lives, being tortured and locked away for simply loving Jesus.
    I often wonder what their Kingdom priorities are compared with ours and whether we have a great deal to learn.

  • Thanks Alastair – you always leave well thought through comments and I always enjoy them.

    I wish Carey had largely been reporting on the views of others, but the statements he made in the Mail were his own personal views – views that he has expressed on prior occasions that have had similar themes – so this is not the first time he’s spoken out like this and it can’t be dismissed as simply reporting the feelings of others. I also think it was particularly bad taste for him to direct attacks personally at Cameron.

    I agree that many Christians in the UK do feel like their views are increasingly “irrelevant”. But that’s because they largely are… the world is not listening to Church anymore and Christian faith is generally not respected in the public square. So these realities are just what we must accept and work with – hopefully we can change them, but I don’t think they equate to discrimination, and certainly not to persecution. I think people of all beliefs and none can feel the same way if their views are dismissed, so it’s not just Christians.

    Not sure what your last paragraph means – give me a bit more explanation on it, then I’ll know how to respond :)

  • Thanks for reading and commenting :)

  • Thanks AJ. I wouldn’t be wanting to back a “faith voice” necessarily, just a “fair and ethical society voice” where the vulnerable and poor are protected. So my goal would be to see people of all beliefs in government making those decisions, not just a Christian lobby pushing for them. Whatever our country’s laws on abortion are they need to represent the views, needs and wishes of the entire nation as the reality is we don’t live in a Christian country anymore and it’s not fair to impose that on people who do not subscribe to our particular views.

  • Haha! Thanks Michael :)

  • Thanks :)

  • Thanks Ed – brilliant to hear about your work. It’s so important!

  • Thanks Robb :)

  • Thanks Gabriel.

  • Thank you Alan.

  • Thanks, Vicky.

    On Lord Carey’s statements. I think that it might be helpful to ignore the headline: that is the Daily Mail’s spin and I think that most of us knows how that works. While I don’t agree with a number of things in the content of the article, it is more balanced. Lord Carey is speaking about the perception of the situation among many Christians, which is incredibly important. What this perception, mistaken or not, represents is a significant breakdown of trust and an alienation of a portion of the population.

    Merely responding with the claim that Christians aren’t in fact being persecuted misses the point. The prevailing perceptions are a reality of their own and need to be accounted for, even when they seem grossly exaggerated. The real question is why so many Christians are fearful. What is fuelling the paranoia (and I think that ‘paranoia’ isn’t an unfair term for it)?

    I think that the experience of opposing same-sex marriage has been a telling one for many of us. We have realized that few people will even listen to us. It doesn’t matter what arguments we put forward (and many of us aren’t grounding our case on biblical authority). We are deemed irrelevant and our voice has no place in the conversation or isn’t listened to or engaged with.

    There are rules of public discourse and I think that it is reasonable to restrict appeals to biblical authority from the public square in a pluralistic society. However, even when one abides by the rules, one still is excluded. The concerning thing here is that it is no longer just particular biblical claims that are believed to be ‘irrelevant’, but increasingly the voices and persons who articulate them. Those of us who have seen this for ourselves are very uneasy and will resonate to some degree with Lord Carey’s remarks about an ‘aggressive secularisation’. When people are made to feel irrelevant, paranoia will tend to develop.

    When people are made irrelevant, the body of society will move on, not caring about those left behind or steam-rollered.

    Putting my final paragraph differently, my suggestion would be to try to look at the current situation through the eyes of, for example, an elderly working class conservative independent evangelical woman. Knowing many such persons, I can assure you that Lord Carey is speaking for them here, and precious few others are. Such a person is increasingly invisible and irrelevant to society and, more importantly, feels the fact keenly. They don’t have many public advocates for them and those that exist are often squeezed out.

    We have the privilege of education, youth, and the ability to articulate our deepest convictions in a more secular idiom. Also, for those in the mainstream of the Church of England, there can be a place at some very privileged tables, their views are expressed widely in the media, they have a clear political voice, and, in many respects, they are part of the establishment. However, for the person I mentioned the voices of most establishment Christians are merely contributing further to their invisibility and perceived irrelevance, especially as those voices are often directed against theological conservatives.

    None of this is to say that we should agree with such people’s perception that they are being persecuted but, as Lord Carey is arguing, that we should try to understand where such perceptions are coming from.

  • Beth

    Lord Carey’s article wasn’t very nuanced. Of course, it’s possible for the Church to be persecuted by any number of factors, abstract or embodied, before the individual Christian has to experience an outright pogrom. I do think we need to be careful and define our terms. Christianity is, on the one hand, individualistic and centered on the sufferings of Jesus and those who follow in his wake, and on the other, pledged to unity above difference. When under the cosh, these two ingredients can work entirely against the good Samaritan’s allegorical exhortation to love others without first thought to our own situations. We should take care to remember Jesus’s words to Paul about persecution. It’s also worth remembering that the origins of race and racism have their etymological and social roots in differing belief systems and lack of tolerance toward other beliefs, or a mistaken sense of [colonial] superiority. Persecution can cut both ways.

  • Simon Jenkins

    Hi Alastair… I too noticed the qualifying statement about persecution made by George Carey, but it needs to be read in the context of things he’s been saying for a long time. Here he is in the Telegraph last year: “It is now Christians who are persecuted; often sought out and framed by homosexual activists… Christians are driven underground.” http://bit.ly/YJWREB He’s been campaigning along these lines for a few years now, encouraging a defensive and fear-based relationship with the wider culture, and I don’t think his qualifier in yesterday’s Mail piece undoes much of that.

  • Beth

    I’d just like to clarify, I wasn’t implying Lord Carey was persecuting Jesus, as Paul had. More that Jesus is the personality that attracts persecution, which can outwork in a great variety of ways, and be directed against the most surprising people.

  • Thanks for responding to my comment, Simon. I agree: such statements as those you quote are dangerously hyperbolic and misleading. However, I would prefer to engage his present comments on their own merits, rather than dismissing them solely on account of previous unbalanced comments that he has made on the subject. When I need to, I make clear that Lord Carey doesn’t speak for me, as he is prone to making such remarks. However, while we may both disagree with the way that he speaks to such subjects more generally, I don’t believe that this is a sufficient basis on which to dismiss particular statements.

  • stevesparrow

    Hi Vikki, I’d echo what Vicky is saying. I find these examples difficult, as it’s not asking for what everyone else has but asking for special treatment. So eg, refusing service to someone in your business (also your home) if you dislike them being gay, no-one else can do that. Wearing a necklace when they’re banned and refusing to consider alternatives such as a broach (which was offered). These are things which say to me – I don’t want equal treatment, I want to be able to do exactly as I like. It concerns me that these are the points of principle many stand on.

  • Steven Logan

    Yes, Vicky, there are countries who truly persecute Christians, Dr Carey should be focussing on this issue rather than waste time on a non issue in this country. Christian privilege is still strong here, do you see atheists like me stopping any religion being practised, not just Christianity. Dr Carey might be better off protesting against the likes of the Westboro Baptist Church, ineed, against bigots and extremists of ALL religions, in a nutshell, Dr Carey, put up or shut up.

  • stevesparrow

    HI,

    I think that having your voice marginalised by people who disagree with you is I think simply part of living in the real world. It’s not good, but it’s what people outside of the church have experienced for years, including by Christians themselves. It’s a sign of losing a special place in society and reaction to how we have treated others. It might be bigoted and intolerant, but then so have we as the church been for many, many years. I wonder if we have the choice to either try and regain that special status, or to model a different way of behaviour to others and seek to try to change the nature of engagement as equals? What do you think?

  • Phil.

    I’m completely with Lord Carey on this. He is speaking sensibly in a timely way. He is not speaking about the current situation as you think but how things will develop in the future. But by the time you have woken up it will be too late. Hopefully you have lived in a country where you have been followed by the police due to your Christian faith. If not I suggest you try it.

  • Steven Logan

    Secularism is NOT a religion, secularists are human beings without any need for an imaginary deity to worship, no religion needed.

  • Steven Logan

    What about the non believers in Muslim countries who are persecuted? Such countries as Egypt and Indonesia, where to be an apostate means death, yes, such a tolerant religion!

  • Agreed. I am concerned that Xtians will be tarred with the Carey brush. Much larger issues to address such as the bedroom tax, and treatment of poor and vulnerable people generally. Has he muddied the patch of the new ABC during a major Xtian festival?

  • Steve, there is a difference between losing a privileged place in society and people who never enjoyed such a privileged space in the first place becoming even further marginalized and viewed as irrelevant as persons. One of my points here is that there is a mainstream CofE-centric way of viewing Christians in the UK, which ignores the discrimination and marginalization that Catholics, dissenters, independents, and non-conformists received over history, often at the hand of an establishment that arrogated the right to speak for all Christians.

    When you speak about ‘our’ past behaviour as the church, I want to ask who the ‘we’ you are speaking of is. The Church in the UK was never and still isn’t a homogeneous entity. While incredible privilege is enjoyed in certain quarters of the UK church, this privilege isn’t exercised on behalf of all Christians, and, as often over the course of history, is not infrequently exercised against many of ‘us’.

  • AJ

    Thanks for replying Vicky, ethical and fair are subjective terms and it is perfectly feasible that a time could come when ethics and fair values from a Christian view point will not be the same as that of the majority. In that circumstance the Christian voice could be isolated. The question then becomes would it be right to lobby and use position specifically to stand for a Christian point? Euthanasia could one day be adopted, if all other value systems excepted it, would it not be right to say as Christians we oppose it???

  • No problem – yes, was a very interesting listen! :-)

  • stevesparrow

    Hi Alastair, That seems fair, and I agree it’s hard to talk of the church as one entity. Sorry, that was clumsy. It is hard to speak of the church in multiple sections fairly – although when it comes to issues such as this thematic strands do seem to form that we can speak of.

    Where we do seem to be agree is that the establishment has taken the right not just to speak for all believers but to exercise privilege which excluded and marginalised others. I think that’s what saddens me about where we are now though, in that those same groups who were marginalised are in many cases now largely accepted as mainstream, but many of them still seek in significant part to discriminate against those they disagree with, based on privileges they’ve inherited from that once-ruling church. Whoever created that situation, and I take your point there, it still exists across large areas.

    To some extent, I come back to my original question – being in the position churches are in of losing automatic privilege/respect as society changes, they could choose to fight to retain it – or model a new way of approaching relationship and acceptance?

    Cheers, Steve

  • Steven Logan

    Sorry, Lord, not Dr, it makes all the difference!

  • Steven, with the greatest of respect, I’m afraid this is very niave. We all worship. We all have a religion. We all have something we give our time, energy and money to – worship (which comes from ‘worth-ship’) and a system with which to organise our lives – religion.

    Consumerism/secularism is the religion of self, and within this we worship different dimensions of self. TV’s and shopping centres can be places of worship. Even some people who engage with it call shopping, or a specific TV series or football team a ‘religion’.

    We worship ourselves, we worship money, sex or something else. It’s about what’s best for me. I think it’s very naive to think it’s anything other than a religion.

  • stevesparrow

    I mis-read your last sentance there. I think that the sticker-shock many people feel when they are dismissed for a view they hold, for example on gay marriage, is part of the losing of that privilege which one has as an identified Christian. One doesn’t need to exert privilege to be included in it (which is perhaps at the rough of our missing each other a little here) It may be wrong of others to dismiss views summarily, but I believe it’s simply a more level playing field now, in which we each need to earn the right to speak…

  • Veronica Zundel

    I would argue we never were a Christian nation – we were simply a nation with an established church. What is Christian about a nation that, during the centuries we supposedly were one, burned dissenters at the stake, slaughtered other Christians as well as Jews and Muslims in the Crusades, waged horrific wars, had a thriving slave trade? Indeed what is Christian today about a nation that has nuclear weapons that could bring about wholesale destruction?

  • When it comes to our attitude to the loss of privilege, I don’t think that it should be one of resentment or pining for its restoration. We should also recognize its profoundly ugly shadow side.

    One of my reservations is that a number of serious concerns are dismissed under the claim that it is just a matter of ‘losing privilege’ and something that we should just suck it up. In particular there is a destructive and dismissive approach to the constraints of tradition, the legacy of those who went before us, and its ‘democracy of the dead’.

    On an issue such as marriage, the rejection of its male and female character is commonly presented as a loss of Christian privilege, which is a ridiculous construction when one considers that we are dealing with the virtually universal consensus of all human cultures prior to the year 2000. This is merely the ‘aggressive secularism’ Lord Carey spoke of dissembling the truly radical nature of its claims under the notion that the norm of male-female marriage is a peculiarly Christian matter and can be dismissed from ‘privilege’ as a result.

    In other words, by painting any resistance to a particular form of aggressive secularism as ‘Christian privilege’, we can be persuaded to retreat and give an intolerant and partisan anti-cultural functionalism hegemony in our society. I think that we need to distinguish between different forms of secularism here (Rowan Williams has some helpful remarks on such a distinction in his latest book).

  • I think it’s such a shame that these comments from Carey ever found so much airtime, but then suppose I’m adding to them. I am pleased to say that alot of Christians in this country focus on how they can contribute to the community positively.

  • I’m with you Vicky. Carey is simpy feeding the media opposition to the Coalition on irrelevant issues, when the real opposition the Church is supporting is on issues like benefit changes which will hit the most vulnerable.

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  • stevesparrow

    I’ll have to read it, it sounds interesting.

    Actually I was (intending at least) to respond to your experiences of being dismissed or marginalised for putting across a different view, rather than the issue itself, which is also an important line. I think George Carey responds in the *way* he does because he is used to that priviledge or right to discriminate.

    I agree the issue itself is a different matter, though I do think that one of the reasons it’s happening now is those societal changes.

    I’m not sure about a consensus across society prior to 2000. There are different examples in the bible (700 wives anyone) let alone across the many rich societies of history. Even in the last few hundred years in the UK, marriage may have been one man and one woman but the sexual exploration of female servants for extra-marital for example seems to have been normal and known practice for our ‘christian’ ancestors. Even state marriage as we know in this country it now is a fairly new invention,designed to prevent an increasing number of elopements by young people.

    I have no problem with people being against equal marriage it’s the nature of change. I’m more concerned about how people on multiple ends of the debate treat each other, and how Christians respond, especially those such as George Cary who, as you point out, seem to think he speaks for me.

    I’m mostly concerned (slight change of topic here) that this is the breaking point for people such as George Cary, rather than the targeting of the poor and vulnerable currently taking place. I struggle to have sympathy with anyone (not suggesting this is you at all – rather a general remark) shouting about gay marriage but not standing up for those with least.

  • Guest

    I agree one hundren percent with the comments made by Lord George Carey in his article to the Daily Mail. It is time that someone spoke the truth and I believe George Carey has done just that.

  • Sylvia Bottoms. Cirencester.

    I welcome former archbishop Geeorge Carey’s corageous comments. He is a man of vast experience and understanding. We do well to note his heart’s concern for our nation and Christians in particular.

  • Paul green

    You speak as if the church isn’t doing any other stuff! it is, abundantly. People make such a big thing out of comic reliefs efforts, yet Christian churches and charities do far, far more every year than comic relief will ever achieve. Whether society is secular, Christian, multi-faith or whatever makes no difference – the church is called to be the prophetic voice and to speak out in ‘the courtyard of the king’. That’s exactly what Lord Carey is doing. may God bless him, and raise up many more like him.

  • Paul green

    You speak as if the church isn’t doing any other stuff! it is, abundantly. People make such a big thing out of comic reliefs efforts, yet Christian churches and charities do far, far more every year than comic relief will ever achieve. Whether society is secular, Christian, multi-faith or whatever makes no difference – the church is called to be the prophetic voice and to speak out in ‘the courtyard of the king’. That’s exactly what Lord Carey is doing. may God bless him, and raise up many more like him.

  • The narrative on this topic has now become totally set by the British Humanist Association, and few people seem to be actually listening to what George Carey is saying. When stories first got aired of Christians and Christianity being badly by employers and courts, there was broad sympathy for the majority of cases. Some of the worst were noted on my blog, such as that when a Church Sunday School was not allowed to advertise in the local library for fear of offending non-Christians, or the Hospital that was stripped of all its pictures with a religious theme for the same reason. Many employment cases were also garnering sympathy. The case of a nurse who wanted to wear a cross was actually supported by Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty, who argued that she was putting nobody at risk but herself, and that other religions had similar dispensations to accommodate their adherents wishes (http://news.sky.com/story/1038220/ba-employee-nadia-eweida-wins-cross-case).

    Sadly, what then happened was that the newspapers started to latch on to any case where Christians claimed discrimination, and the Christian Institute started backing them through the courts. The result was some spurious cases getting an airing – such as those who were clearly breaking equalities laws on the basis of sexuality. These really are not in the same category.

    However, the BHA and their friends painted the narrative as that of a frightened hard right group of Christians claiming they were ‘persecuted’ – a word Lord Carey has always been careful to use only appropriately. In fact, on a number of occasions he has specifically said that he is not talking about persecution, but marginalization, something that he repeated in this Mail article, saying “Their fears may be exaggerated because few in the UK are actually persecuted”. Perhaps a better headline would have been “Carey says few Christians are persecuted in the UK”.

    But the narrative has now been set. I don’t always agree with Carey, and he is generally wrong when he gets stuck on a determination to discriminate against gay people, but he is quite right that it is horrendous to turn a 700 year old Christian chapel into a multi-faith prayer room. I also think that equal marriage has to be handled with great care, and Carey is entitled to express his fears there, which actually takes up the majority of the article in question.

    So all in all – he’s a bit right, and quite a bit wrong, but the media narrative has now been totally twisted precisely by the secularists he is warning against, so he won’t get a fair hearing any time soon.

    That’s what the Mouse thinks, anyhow.

  • Thanks for the response, Steve.

    It is worth a read, as Rowan Williams almost invariably is.

    My impression is that Lord Carey was in large measure trying to speak on behalf of those who feel persecuted, without claiming that he himself feels persecuted.

    I would be very happy to debate same-sex marriage, but this is not the place to do so. I am a little surprised at the prevalence of the polygamy argument, especially as it is so easily answered and actually strengthens the case against same-sex marriage, if anything. I have laid out my position on the same-sex marriage debate at great length here and provided very detailed responses to questions and objections, including the polygamy one here. If you want to discuss it further with me, it is probably best to do so there.

    The claim that people like Lord Carey and others aren’t standing up for the least should really be demonstrated, rather than merely asserted as many tend to (I am not accusing you of doing this, but I would like to see you provide more substance to your suggestion). The need to care for the poor is so often used as a means to silence Christian opposition to liberalism’s favourite causes that one is reminded of Judas’ remarks in John 12:5-6. One increasingly wonders whether, like Judas, the real reason for their remarks is not a deep personal care for the poor, but a self-serving desire to shut down opposing voices.

    When anyone resists radical social experiments such as same-sex marriage, they are accused of being aggressive culture warriors, abandoning their duty to be political quietists, save when they are providing antiphony to the prevailing liberal orthodoxies. This is not an either-or at all. We stand up for the least. We invite them into our homes. We provide them with food, human fellowship, places to stay, needed resources, and care (not that the media is all that interested).

    And, incidentally, it is in large part on account of our care for the least that we stand so firmly against same-sex marriage.

  • Some really helpful points here, thank you – especially for clarifying what Carey is and isn’t saying.

  • Thanks for this. I totally agree that we shouldn’t use the word ‘persecution’ when we mean ‘discrimination’. Words mean things, and we need to be careful not to cheapen them. Are we being persecuted in this country? No. Are we being discriminated against? Some are, to varying degrees. Are we being more targeted than other people-groups? You can argue it, but it’s not clear-cut, and certainly doesn’t warrant the hysterical scaremongering that is leapt upon by the tabloids. As you point out, it is a shame to do this rather than speaking for those who are being persecuted across the world.

    The only point I didn’t agree with was point 7 (or rather, your point within it about David Cameron being pro-faith groups). I have watched his interactions, his policies and read his speeches. He doesn’t like the bishops butting in and telling him off for child poverty, for one. I don’t know what David the individual really thinks, but David Cameron, the politician is only interested in pushing his political agenda. Where that accords with his policies (e.g. ‘big Society), he will sing its praises. Where it is in disagreement (child poverty, equal marriage, bedroom tax etc) he is not so supportive.

    Good to air this all out on here! Thanks!

  • Vikki Climpson

    I don’t really see it as special treatment when people of other faiths are automatically allowed to wear turbans or headdresses, or whatever symbols they have, but Christians aren’t allowed the same freedom. I would see Christians being allowed to declare their faith outwardly as equality, not favouritism. It’s the way Christians aren’t seen as quite ‘equal’ to the other religions in the UK that bugs me. People would be afraid to be seen to have upset a Muslim or a Sikh, but don’t seem to have the same qualms about upsetting a Christian.

  • gren grh1@btinternet.com

    Re note 8: Your assumption that a level playing field of equal opportunity can possibly exist is a very personal statement of acceptance of, and faith in, the belief that an over-arching secularism should contextualise Christianity. Could I ask you to ponder your idea that there is, somehow, a neutral, objective language with which we may judge Christianity? ‘Rich and wonderful?’ Does it not appear slightly strange to you that all the writings in the letters, gospels and old testament refer to a specific relationship with God which itself contextualises other beliefs? This idea of a independant ethical scheme outside of God may pay your rent, but it is contrary to basic Christian principles.

  • I agree we also need more social housing to help with this issue! No policy is perfect!

  • stevesparrow

    Gosh that went off in a number of different directions! I think we’re classic internet discussion that isn’t helpful. Just two quick clarifications then if I may.

    – I haven’t made any arguments, not least polagamy! – just noting that it’s not as simple as ‘this is what has always been’. I shouldn’t have taken the bait!

    – In terms of empowering those with least – it’s of course the timing in context which makes it a perfectly reasonable thing to note. In two days some of the most regressive measures in some time will kick in, which will take money away from those already struggling (by the measure of almost every independent agency, more people are expected to not have enough to live on), and George Cary chooses this moment to talk about the ‘persecuted’ church as the big issue (while calling the government generous and caring). It’s a statement of priority.

    You seen to have mis-read me as saying Carey etc doesn’t care for those with least, and you’ve read a lot into that about liberal agendas and hidden self-interest etc. As a rule I’d rather not get involved in the sort of generalisation that makes out those who disagree with us in someway less moral. If I’ have done that here to you, or where I’ve also mis-read you – I’m sorry. I’m signing of now. Thanks, Steve

  • At what point that Carey say Christians are “persecuted”? He doesn’t use the word once in his article. Bit of a straw-man you’ve setup to knock down here Vicky.

  • Kevin lawrence

    The trouble is that again this agenda is set by the media – if George Carey had, as I am sure he has / does / will, talk this Easter about a Saviour who came and died for a broken world, it would receive no column inches – making a ‘political statement’ gets him front page news in the Mail – mainly because they know it will get a reaction. Yes, I agree Christians are not persecuted in the UK but marginalised – I am afraid so -and yes I agree we should talk more about what we do believe and stand for – but not so easy to get air time for that – good news ( with or without capitals) does not sell papers

  • Steve, I am sorry if I gave the impression that all my comments were designed to characterize a position that I imputed to you in its entirety. They weren’t intended to, but I probably wasn’t as clear as I ought to have been.

    Because this discussion is about the broader way that Christians and their view and represented and heard in public life, my intention was to step back and to observe some of the typical dynamics of the issues and objections you raise in the conversations that surround these matters (having encountered them on many occasions before). I wasn’t engaging primarily with you (as I said, there are other places where we could debate the specific issues), but with the wider nature of the public discourse.

    On the polygamy issue, my point was that the objection needs to be backed up by careful examination, first of what exactly is being claimed by those who claim constant features (for instance, I am well aware of huge variations in marriage culture, but also of universal constants prior to 2000, such as its male-female character) and, secondly, of the exact nature of the changes being proposed relative to the variable and constant features of marriage cross-culturally and through history. Without such examination, the polygamy objection becomes a glib dismissal that doesn’t actually engage with the arguments being made.

    While you did not accuse Carey of not caring for the least (something I pointed out in my earlier comment), your comments here do invite such a reading:

    I’m mostly concerned (slight change of topic here) that this is the breaking point for people such as George Cary, rather than the targeting of the poor and vulnerable currently taking place. I struggle to have sympathy with anyone (not suggesting this is you at all – rather a general remark) shouting about gay marriage but not standing up for those with least.

    My point was merely that such objections all too easily forbid Christians from speaking to any issues save for the ones to which secular society wants them to speak. Isn’t it possible that Christians can care deeply about the poor (and we tend to speak a great deal more to that subject than to same-sex marriage, etc.), but that they also care about the aggressive marginalization of Christians? In other words, why should our duty to care for the poor rule out or be inconsistent with speaking about the concerns of Christians regarding aggressive secularism and religious freedom? Where do we have an indication that this concern eclipses that for poverty?

    Also, when we do speak out about the poor the media really isn’t interested. However, mention one word against the prevailing liberal views on sex and sexuality and we will be told that we are ‘obsessed’ and we will be widely reported. This can lead to very skewed perceptions of what we actually care about.

    Anyway, once again, I apologize for any inclarity in my earlier remarks. Hopefully this will clear things up a little.

  • I don’t think christians as a rule are persecuted in this country although i have a friend who took a beating for daring to speak about Jesus,but christians are worried about the growth of Islam in this country.I would prefer church leader speak out about Goverment policy i.e the poor .In the work place christians need to be more outspoken about the Gospel.I go to a church where number are growing year by year and certainly free churches are seeing a lot of people coming to faith.

  • Matt

    Brilliant post, and I think there is a lot that should be praised. I would, however, like to add that point 8 (we are not a Christian nation) is somewhat more tenuous since we have an established church, over which the monarch reigns supreme. Each bishop gets a seat in the house of lords, including Lord Carey, who made the claim! (I can see the argument though, we are a multi-cultural society) George Carey, the former de facto head of the institution, ignores this and I think that says a lot about his agenda.

  • I’m with Peter on this. The closest he gets to saying it is this paragraph:
    “Their fears may be exaggerated because few in the UK are actually persecuted, but the Prime Minister has done more than any other recent political leader to feed these anxieties.”

    He does not say Christians are persecuted, indeed he says that fears of persecution may be exaggerated. But he does make many valid points about the way David Cameron has acted that do nothing to make me think that I am free to express my faith as fully as I might want to if I worked outside the Church. And yet we see an increasing number of examples where people of other faiths are allowed exemptions from the rules in order to outwardly express their faith in ways that are not requirements of their faith.

    And there is a very good reason why gay marriage is a major part of this article. As we see from the article, Chris Bryant is wanting to turn the chapel in the HoP into a multi-faith centre. And the reason? So he can get married to his partner in a “church” despite the CofE being against it. So he is abusing the equalities issue so he can stick 2 fingers up at the church that he has, for so long, railed against for not being in favour of same sex unions. And if he can abuse it under the guise of aiding other faiths then so can anyone else! And the reason this is potentially possible is because the way the law is being created is completely idiotic and might as well be written by 5 year olds.
    And when the law of the land is treated in this fashion, it is understandable that people fear being mistreated because of how they express their faith. It doesn’t mean they are correct in their fears, but they are in no way helped by a PM who treats orthodoxy with such disdain as to simply declare “the should get with the programme” rather than listen and engage.

  • Although I’m not from the UK so I’m not sure who this guy is, I agree with your writings on here. Anyone who thinks Christians are truly persecuted in the developed world should head to some communist nations for awhile. I was struck yesterday how here in Canada we still get Good Friday off, and kids get 3 days off school for Easter weekend. We’re obviously still pretty Christian! I’m glad we don’t live in the era of Christendom… forced faith isn’t faith at all, it is phony and hypocritical. Thanks for the post!

  • Adrian B

    Vicky. Outstanding post and exactly what I was hoping someone was going to say. Christians who think they are a persecuted minority should take a look at what it is like to be a Christian in North Korea, Iran and China, and then reflect on the NT church and see what persecution really looks like. Although Christianity in this country still occupies a place of great privilege (where Bishop’s sit in parliament and the BBC has the new ABC speaking on Radio 4) that privilege is being eroded and we are being mildly marginalised but that is no bad thing. Christ ministered on the margins without any fanfare and told us that to follow him would bring much worse than this mild antagonism.

    As we are about to celebrate Easter it is a timely reminder that our power comes through loving in spite of opposition and that WE ARE VICTORS NOT VICTIMS.

  • Adrian B

    Well done Vicky – excellent post and I am so glad someone has said this.

    If Christians in this country think they are a persecuted minority they should look to North Korea, Iraq and Iran and then read the NT to find out what persecution really looks like. Then they should perhaps consider that Christianity still occupies a place of great privilege in this society even though it is post-Christian and largely secular. Then they should reflect on this Easter Saturday, that though our country maybe mildly antagonistic to Christianity Christ told us that to follow him would bring much worse but we should not worry because we are VICTORS NOT VICTIMS.

  • Adrian B

    Sorry for reposting – thought I’d not hit “send”

  • Vicky – I expect Lord Carey understands that to get an important point across about the growing influence of the secular lobby, he needs to let it piggy-back something more headline grabbing. That is his style but ‘getting the headlines and the loudest voice’ comes at a price. Aside from the Mail, the rest of the national media use his voice – albeit in this instance contextualised to suit (he didn’t actually say Christians are being persecuted) – to ridicule him and Christians in general. The point here is really about the lack of other ‘names’ who are willing to face the media over presenting a credible voice in the debate about secularism. They needn’t be Christians at all but they do need to stand up and speak otherwise this kind of story will run on repeat.

  • Pauline

    Across the world there are two types of Christians, ones that feel compelled to speak out and ones that choose to live the truth quietly, these examples appear in the Bible too, Fortunately God accepts both and uses both for his purposes….

  • Paul green

    Well said

  • Colin

    A lot of sound sense in the article. To balance the ‘discrimination’ issues – of which no doubt there are some genuine cases perhaps due to over zealous ‘pc’ employers, we should consider the power exercised by Christians such as in covert ‘fellowship’ groups at local councils. How much influence do they exert on policy and practice?

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  • xpressanny

    I completely agree with Vicky. Lord Carey should not have allowed the Daily Mail to publish this article at Easter. The Easter Story has been totally hi-jacked by this article being published at this very special time for all Christians. Easter is about the terrible death and suffering of Christ and his magnificent resurrection. Focusing Easter on ourselves is not the Easter Story!!! I felt incensed by this article. And contrary to some of the posts below Lord Carey did talk about ‘PERSECUTION.’ I quote: At his pre-Easter Downing Street reception for faith leaders, he said that he supported Christians’ right to practise their faith. Yet many Christians doubt his sincerity. According to a new ComRes poll more than two-thirds of Christians feel that they are part of a ‘persecuted minority’.

    If any section of the public is being Persecuted at this time it is the very poor in our nation. They are certainly being persecuted by this government. The poor are becoming increasingly poorer and the rich are becoming ever richer under this government. Does Lord Carey have anything to say about this? No he doesn’t.

    Perhaps Lord Carey should take a leaf out of the Pope’s book who went to a prison and washed the feel of Muslim prisoners – the act of a servant. Totally reflecting the servanthood of Christ.

  • xpressanny

    If anyone needs to get an example of what persecution means look no further than the Baptist Pastor who has been imprisoned by the Iranian authorities for his faith! This dear man is serving a 6 year prison sentence and now his health is failing. That is real persecution.

  • xpressanny

    Absolutely!

  • xpressanny

    Quite right Veronica.

  • xpressanny

    Yes he does! Read the article again and you will see that he does talk about Persecution of christians in this country!

  • xpressanny

    He does talk about Christians being persecuted. Read the article again!!!

  • He doesn’t use the word “persecution”. If you think he does, give us the direct quote”.

  • xpressanny

    At his pre-Easter Downing Street reception for faith leaders, he said that he supported Christians’ right to practise their faith. Yet many Christians doubt his sincerity. According to a new ComRes poll more than two-thirds of Christians feel that they are part of a ‘persecuted minority’. The ‘persecuted’ is in quotes!!!

  • Yes, the poll asks a question about feeling persecuted. But I asked you about the use of that word in Carey’s article. He never says it in the context Vicky is quoting.

  • xpressanny

    Maybe the quote by Lord Carey given on the BBC website will help then:

    Lord Carey also that said a recent ComRes poll suggested “more than two-thirds of Christians feel that they are part of a ‘persecuted minority'”.

  • xpressanny

    From the BBC Website transcript:
    Lord Carey also that said a recent ComRes poll suggested “more than two-thirds of Christians feel that they are part of a ‘persecuted minority'”.

  • xpressanny

    I so agree with you James! It is so lacking in the reality of life to assume that “worship” is just about religious belief. We can of course “worship” money; hero “worship”; The worship of money is a key area in the Biblical text. Certainly today’s life is permeated by the love of money and material wealth. And none more so that the rich!!!

  • URL?

  • As I thought – you only included the bit that didn’t contradict what you said.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21979034
    —–

    Lord Carey also that said a recent ComRes poll suggested “more than two-thirds of Christians feel that they are part of a ‘persecuted minority'”.

    “Their fears may be exaggerated because few in the UK are actually persecuted, but the prime minister has done more than any other recent political leader to feed these anxieties.”

    —–
    So basically Carey observes that a poll asked a specific question and then EXPLICITLY denies that Christians are persecuted in the UK.

  • Thanks xpressanny, glad you agree :-)

  • Charles

    but Vicky you should not be reading the Daily Mail – it sends us all into fits of apoplexy! While I believe there is something in what Carey says (although he overplays the point) making comments such as he did over Easter seriously detracts from what the Church should be focusing on. Fortunately the Wintershall Passion at Trafalgar Square received more publicity in many newspapers and I wasn’t aware of any attempt to shut that down or protest against it. We are living in a secularist society but not one that actively persecutes religion nor one that is in danger of doing so. Society as a whole may ridicule religion but that is because we do not collectively take the mission of God seriously but focus on minor, and mainly sexual, issues.

  • Liam

    If we stop and look at persecution in the extreme sense then those countries you’ve mentioned are definitely spot on. In the book of James people who are going through trials are exhorted to ‘count it all joy.’ Maybe we should realise we were never meant to fit in anyway. Whether that be a multicultural and multifaith society or not. Jesus wants us to shine not hide.
    I think there are many cases where Christians are sidelined but that doesn’t necessarily mean persecution per se. Discrimination perhaps is better suited here.

  • Rob from Hereford

    Whilst I agree that Christians in the UK don’t face the persecution that occurs in other parts of the world, there is discrimination and it is a battle to live by Christian, biblical values. We cannot expect society to adhere to these, but if society is to have equality, there should be tolerance and respect – one should be able to live without their conscience being comprimised.
    And that’s the problem, especially in business/the workplace/marketplace – it’s not about gaining privileges (I wouldn’t conside it a right to wear a visible sign of my faith), but should someone be expected to violate their beliefs because society is championing rights of those whose values conflict, or a company wants their employees to comply with questionable practices. Should someone be forced to change their occupation because the rights of others (under the guise of equality) are being imposed on them? Is it possible to live a lifestyle of worship and yet allow God’s values to be comprimised by complying with conflicting secular values?
    It is very easy to complain about the way things are going and as Christians we need to be primarily known for what we are for, rather than majoring on what we are against. Jesus hung out with sinners and loved them, He didn’t immediately impose His values, but He certainly didn’t comply with theirs. Society needs to change and that will only happen when we ourselves seek God’s Kingdom first in our own lives, show God’s love to those around us and then society will realise what it’s missing.

  • Pastor Dirk

    In that case how do you explain how American Churches are persecuted by the liberal secular media and how come True Christians were persecuted on The Big Questions? softcomplementarians.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/review-of-bbcs-so-called-the-big-questions/

  • Mr Bean

    I love this from John Macarthur ‘Grace To You’: ‘ You say, “I’m a Christian, and I don’t suffer persecution.” Read 2 Timothy 3:12 again: It says that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” If you are not being persecuted, that’s because you do not “live godly in Christ Jesus ….” If you live the way God wants you to live, you will naturally disagree with the world. If you are not being persecuted, you have either hidden your Christianity from everyone or fallen into doing things that unbelievers do. When you openly live a godly life, you will bang heads with Satan. You will confront the world, and persecution will be automatic.’

    If we’re not getting persecuted then we should be. I do a lot of work in my local church publicising the plight of Christians in countries like North Korea so I know that the level of persecution in the UK is nothing like that in some other countries, but it’s still persecution. It’s all persecution whether it’s mild or full-on. The verse in 2 Timothy doesn’t say “all that will live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer discrimination”. I’m glad for every voice that is speaking up for us at this time when the Western world is rapidly turning against Christians. Vicky, maybe I’m misunderstanding but you come across as if you are glad that this is no longer a Christian country.

  • Temi

    Vicky, as a Christian, have you received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? This is an important mark for any believer in Jesus Christ as it allows for the inward dwelling of Christ within us. Indeed, no one can come to the Father (God) except through the Son (Jesus). If indeed, you have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, I ask you whether you daily pray in tongues?

    Indeed, by doing so it enables you to have the “mind of Christ” and the same thoughts and desires as the Will of God. The importance of the Holy Spirit cannot be ignored when you read the New Testament and the Book of Acts. Jesus told the Apostles not to do anything (not even preach the Gospel) until you receive power from the Spirit i.e. Pentecost. Numerous occasions when Paul and Peter are preaching the Gospel they lay hands on people to receive the Baptism after they agree to receive Salvation. I am just curious to understand as I’m hearing more and more from Christians claiming to be in support of gay marriage and I wonder what Bible they are reading. Even Paul wrote to many churches which he himself established (Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, etc) warning them not to be deceived into the patterns of this world and he rebuked them regarding abominations including Homosexuality as well as other matters regarding right living, sexual morality, jealousy, strife, etc.

    The reason I ask about whether you’ve received the Holy Spirit is because I am yet to meet a Christian who has received and daily walks in the power of the Spirit (speaking in tongues) that agrees with gay marriage. To that end it is clear to me why the Bible is clear in saying: 1 Corinthians 2:14 “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” The same chapter explains: “The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.” Indeed, if we’re living by the Spirit as New Testament born-again believers then our thoughts become the thoughts of God. Jesus said, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.

    The Bible is not meant to inform us but to transform us. If we think we’ve figured God out then He seizes to be God. What
    we’re seeing today is an unbalanced profession of the Gospel regarding
    Grace and Faith and the argument “God loves us all so that’s enough”
    whereas
    the true Gospel is that He loves us so much that he doesn’t want to just
    leave us on our own as sinners perishing in deception. “Beware
    lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the
    tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after
    Christ.”[Colossians 2:8].

    Look forward to your response.

  • Tony

    I am really disappointed to read this article and the comments that follow in its wake. I agree that on a scale of 1 to 10 Gay Marriage doesn’t seem much like the terrible persecution faced by Christians overseas, but its simply nieve to think that this is just a matter of human rights. The idea we are no a longer a Christian nation doesn’t mean we should not have a voice to the nation when we see it is on a dangerous path. The Same sex marriage bill is much more about wanting homosexual relations to be regarded as normal than anything else. Once that is establised the teaching of children as young as 6 of the normalcy of same sex relations will be enforceable by law. That should worry anyone who believes in freedom. If you haven’t done so already I recommend that you take a look at the pdf produced by C4M discussing the impact on Primary education. This material has been used extensively in Denmark, Sweden, Spain and many states in the US to name but a few. It is primarily justified on the basis of being internded to counter homophobic bullying. Furthermore it is reasoned that since people are born with a particular orientation, a child cannot be infuenced by it. However, there is no evidence whatsoever to support this latter claim. Even Peter Tatchell wouldn’t claim this if you read his website. After this approach to education was introduced in Sweden, mental health issues amongst the young increased greatly. A report cited in a government document last year pointed out that the in Denmark the suicide rate of men in civil partnerships was eight times higher than those in heterosexual partnerships over the period 1989 to 2001. If these matters were discussed openly and not brushed under the carpet, a great deal of the support of SSM would melt away. While people think ‘It won’t hurt me’ without taking into account the children who will be subject to this experiment in social engineering I guess it will continue to steam roll on. I think it is the role of the church to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. This can hardly be said of the gay rights lobby who are now the dominant force in British politics and the media.
    I would also recommend you take a look at the submission made by Dr Patricia Morgan made to the Select Committee which talks about the experiences of other countries where Same Sex Marriage has been adopted. It totally demolishes the myth that the introduction of Gay Marriage will strenthen Traditional marriage
    I apprecaite you may not agree with me, but please do not fall into the trap of trivilialing the concerns of millions of christians here and throughout the world who are facing the consequences of this issue.

  • Marie

    Hello Vicky. You seem to adopt quite a ‘democratic’ approach to Christian teaching – for example, suggesting that abortion would be acceptable if the majority support it (have I understood you correctly?). The point is that Christianity is not, and can never be, democratic as it’s based on the word of God. The Holy Spirit speaks through the Church, so what the Church teaches on such issues as abortion, euthanasia, same sex marriage, etc. is actually the teaching of God and can, therefore, never be gainsaid. We ignore God’s word at our peril, both individually and as a society!
    Regards.

  • mark

    You seem to be more in tune these day’s with the God hating feminist atheists who only have one agenda and a God hating Prime Minister! I don’t get it at all Vicky. I think your middleclass Christian background has made you naïve

  • rach

    My sentiments exactly! Thanks for raising this Vicky. I cringe when I hear teaching on persecution, then instead of it being linked to our suffering family overseas, its linked to someone disagreeing with us in the paper over same-sex marriage. Christians need to get over themselves.

  • Roxann

    This is a very unfortunate post, and perhaps an unfortunate platform for you to have. You appear to hold Christian values when it is convenient and dismiss the infallible word of God when it opposes your own judgments or threatens what you consider freedom. I would urge you to consider the height from which you have fallen. You have given voice to many of the people who completely oppose Godly doctrine and have, as Paul accurately put it, given way to damnable heresies.

    The sinfulness of abortion is by no means less sinful if it is agreed upon by the majority. I think you swayed more in the direction where you will receive the praise of others, rather than given due credence to the word of God–not simply mental ascent to it. Sin doesn’t become less sinful if the majority ‘agrees’ that it’s not sin. Christianity is a counter-culture. I would caution you to be very careful about seeking the approval of people and disowning your faith in God. We cannot profess Christianity and hold fast to the doctrines of this world. If God is your God then hold fast to His word. If not, do not become a deceiver and lead others who might be babes in Christ into your sinfulness.

    Should we also take a poll to see if Christ is indeed the Son of God? If the majority disagrees, will it make Him any less the Son of God in your eyes or in the eyes of heaven and even hell? We need to draw a clear line of demarcation. If you are indeed a Christian then what the Bible labels as sin is not up for a coin toss to see if it is actually true.

    Might I also caution you, Jesus was not a feminist. Feminism is an imbalanced view of the gender roles. Instead, Jesus knew the value of human life, since He created us. He values us as people created in the image of God, and if we value life, and true life, we will follow Him. Paul urged Timothy to take hold of the life that is truly life. I would urge you to do the same, and to use your platform to share the true Gospel and not mere worldly and very skewed opinions. There can be no establishment of peace if there isn’t first the establishment of the righteousness of God, which is ONLY in Christ Jesus.

  • Roxann

    I totally agree with you!