This provocative title first came to me during last year’s UKIP leadership election. I had been thinking about John Rees-Evans, knowing how ardently Christian he is and remembering how those in the branch who had been gathering nominations for him were among the most staunch churchgoers. I then turned my thoughts to our now leader, proudly public about being a practicing Roman Catholic.
Right-wing writers and leaders such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban often frame their objections to mass immigration and Islamisation as a struggle to preserve Europe’s Christian culture. Breitbart loudly proclaims the cause of Christians persecuted around the world (normally by Muslims). UKIP sees itself as the natural home of traditional Christians who seek the right to act and speak according to their conscience in the face of increasingly repressive political correctness and a godless leftist agenda imposed by public institutions and the media. I’m sure most readers will respond the above question with a resounding “of course”.
Some of this sits rather uneasily with myself, a dyed-in-the-wool agnostic. I recall the last politician for whom I trudged the streets to get elected Prime Minister and who came to wear his faith on his sleeve was a certain Tony Blair. He was so godly; he went on to kill hundreds of thousands in illegal wars (aside from doing untold other damage to our country, laying the groundwork for much of what we are struggling against today). Will UKIP politicians be making decisions based on a religious agenda if they get into power?
Just recently I agreed to have my son christened at my wife’s Methodist church. This was a more difficult decision for me than you might think. I am not one just to go along with something because it’s a nice kind of thing to do. I do not make vows I do not intend to keep.
I have always been very proud that I have never been baptised and can unequivocally say I am not a Christian. Partly this is a hangover from when I was younger and wanting to be cool, rock ’n’ roll and left-wing, but it’s also an identity I hold strongly to this day – that my beliefs and decisions are based solely on my own reason and I do not submit to unquestioning faith, peer pressure or moral browbeating.
Nevertheless, my wife is a Christian and it’s important to her and her family that our son gets to grow up in a real community (rather than just ‘the community’) of nice people in which he’ll make friends. He gets to learn the stories and principles on which his history and culture are based and he can make his own decision when he’s old enough to understand. Another consideration was, in the current cultural climate, I’m happy for him to be counted as a Christian, rather than a.n.other rootless consumer open to being taken in by the next trend.
The service took place last weekend and was more awkward for me than I expected. After the christening, the reading chosen was the passage from Matthew 5 when Jesus, during the Sermon on the Mount, tells the faithful that the law is no longer ‘an eye for an eye’, but they must now ‘not resist one who is evil’, but ‘turn the other cheek’ and love their enemies.
No single other quotation from the Bible could so plainly bring home to me that it’s not just the supernatural element of Christianity’s teaching that I cannot accept. I also object to this masochistic give-away-everything-you-have-and-let-yourself-be-trampled-like-a-doormat-because-your-reward’s-in-heaven thread running through it.
The minister then opened his sermon by saying he had been thinking about Donald Trump. He chuckled slightly and a wave of discomfort went through though the audience that this evil man’s name had been invoked. It was as if the minister, unwittingly but pointedly, was trying to challenge me. Perhaps something supernatural really was going on.
He pointed out how Jesus had also torn up the rulebook, offended people’s ingrained beliefs and angered the establishment. Was he really comparing Donald Trump to Jesus? ..but that wasn’t where he was going with this. He spoke of how difficult it was sometimes to forgive and love your enemies, want the best for them and through that become a better Christian. Was he going to ask his congregation to love Donald Trump? ..but that wasn’t where he was going with this.
He culminated with an exhortation to let go of narrow prejudices and accept everyone regardless of their race or religion. Of course, that’s where he’s going with this and I wholeheartedly endorse not being prejudiced. What rubbed was his predictably implying the oft-repeated lazy and inaccurate lie – that Donald Trump is a mindless hateful racist for seeing Islamic fundamentalism and uncontrolled immigration as threats, as are all those who hold similar opinions.
We have heard similar from many clergy across Europe. The Archbishop of Canterbury recent equated Trump, Brexit and the rise of nationalist populism to fascism. The Pope, no less, has warned of “history repeating itself”. No need for perspective or to point out that no one’s at risk of being killed or that there’s nothing fascist about voting against an out-of-touch entrenched cronyist supranational elite. Let’s just jump on the bandwagon of equating reasonable calls to control immigration and Islamism as racist and even fascist, so we can get a pat on the head from the ideologically atheist Marxist trendies.
This is the mindset of many Christian leaders today – not defending their faith, the history and culture built on its teachings and the rights of persecuted or prosecuted Christians, but complicit in its own destruction by bending over backwards to please and accommodate leftists and Islam who have always wanted to see its downfall. This should come as no surprise though. After all, as the Bible says, “do not to resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Logically, following the example of the Good Samaritan, we must open up to all those who claim to be refugees.
So the Church continues to decline. According to St Malachy, this is the last Pope. I can believe it. If Christianity doesn’t make a stand for its own survival now, it’s finished. I just hope they can save some of the buildings.
Me, I’m not a Christian though and will not allow myself to be downtrodden without offering resistance or be naïve enough to allow someone into my home who I have reason to believe is wanting to take advantage of me.
Part 2 follows tomorrow.