I have striven to ensure, both as a Governor and as a Chaplain that all faiths are given a platform and that people have the right to express their faith even if it is not my own. Whilst I am (in the words of the General Synod debate) convinced of the primacy of Christ and the missional imperative to proclaim his Good News, what galls me is that the CHILD is repremanded. Let’s not even get into the whole discipline the staff-member-parent thing, but how, what, why and wherefore should a FIVE-YEAR-OLD be told off for sharing her faiths and belief.
Is THAT not persecution?
Is THAT not intolerence?
Is THAT not contrary to the whole principle of allowing the spiritual development of children?
Are the Gods of Apathy, Nike and Pepsi and Consumerism the only ones permitted in this society any more?
I have been reading recently “Living Faithfully in a Fragmented World” by Jonathan R Wilson, a small book which argues that since the establishment of the Church by Constantine, it has sacrificed its Gospel to politics, and the harking back to the “return to former influence” which we hear so much about is not at the heart of what we ought to be doing. Power, money, influence are all contrary to the Gospel.
Society clearly at some level has turned so far against Christianity that it is forbidden from the mouths of five-year-olds and can therefore no longer be allowed to colour society with its message of hope, justice and redemption – Christian values taken over by the Guardian-readership and secularised. I would love to see how that school meets its obligations under the 1944 Education to ensure that DAILY collective worship is ‘broadly Christian in nature’ – this is still on the statute books, and has not yet been repealed, although I see it happening soon.
Maybe this is one of the markers of persecution, and maybe we should welcome it: throw off the trappings of state and authority and return to the true nature of the church: subversive, anti-establishment, radical and persecuted (a bit like Blesséd then)
One of my colleagues (and I know he will not mind me reprinting this) wrote to the New Statesman and had this published:
I am totally against the elitist system of the House of Lords (Leader, 2 February). The title itself, and the description “lower chamber”, perpetuate a system of classist, Gilbert and Sullivan-type separation. I know that the Church of England itself contributes to this nonsense on the grounds that it needs to exert influence and be part of the system of government: but does it? It may be right for the two archbishops to sit in it, but the mad scramble of the “senior” bishops to sit there by “right” is medieval.
The Church of England should elect, say, six of its number, and make way for other faith leaders to sit in the second chamber, promote the abolition of the present system, and not only promote equality, but outwardly live it. I know of some bishops who have used the House of Lords as their London office and club and dining room all rolled into one. At what cost, apart from the sign of privilege? Do away with it!
Hurrah! A radical proposal indeed and one which further should serve to emphasise that the Christian Church and the Church of England in particular should remove itself from pretence to power and authority and take up the role of servant and as prophet – if society wishes to take heed of us then it should be by being drawn by our example and holy life rather than by a carved-out powerbase.
We should eschew the role of the Lords Spiritual and return to the mission fields of this land and make Christ known rather than seek power, influence, TV and Radio space, headlines in newspapers and all those other things that seem to occupy the minds of Bishops and media-savvy Evangelicals more concerned with book tours and ticket sales than the vulnerable Gospel.