Sunday, March 28, 2010

Are Christians Persecuted in the UK?

A number of 'senior' Bishops (one retired and a couple of others) it seems have written to the Daily Telegraph to suggest that Christians in the UK are persecuted. There will be some who nod furiously and agree whilst others have already said: I'm doing fine thanks!'

This issue comes up again and again. And its early on a Sunday- and I haven't had caffeine- but this is what I think I might think.

I'm not sure persecution is the right word, but I do think Christians are treated differently. And if I am honest I think the very system that has spawned Bishops is partly to blame. That system evokes the notion that somehow Britain is a Christian nation: and so the cultural expression of our faith is all muddled in. Thats not the case yet with other faiths- and so the outward culturo- religious signs of faith in Sikhism and Islam etc are more understood. In Christianity's case- if that is your cultural background and you have junked it- then why assume others haven't.

There is also the very present reality that Christian faith doesn't have many outward signs other than 'fruit of the spirit'- against which you cannot legislate.

I've sat in sessions (on race equality) where it has been deemed acceptable to sweepingly say that all churches are empty and that Christianity is dead (20 new BME led churches in South Leeds just now!). Christians ARE treated differently. But part of our problem is that we want to be treated preferentially. We assume everyone understands and that we are somehow part of the fabric of the nation. On many levels we no longer are and need to grasp hold of that.

At the start of Holy Week we face the same choices as the crowd on Palm Sunday. Who will we be: the people who will follow Jesus when it is popular and not dangerous- the ones waiting for a King who will rule the nation. Or are we the Pharisees: trying to get Jesus to quieten his followers so we don't get in bother with the Roman rulers? We get to preserve our privileges but truth is crushed. Or will we follow Jesus- through the controversy and agony of Holy Week to understand our God who suffered and died ingloriously that His glory may be revealed.

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