“Christianophobia” claims are pure paranoia
Editorial By Terry sanderson
The debate on “Christianophobia” — the supposed marginalisation of Christians in Britain — initiated by MP Mark Pritchard in Parliament on Wednesday, turned out to be a sad parade of paranoia by people living in a fantasy world. There is no persecution of Christians in this country; there is no discrimination against them. In reality, Christians are still very much in control, and often use that control in ways that are out of step with the people they purport to represent.
So Christians are sidelined in Britain, are they? Does that include the Head of State, who is a Christian, the Prime Minister who is a Christian (along with most of his cabinet)? Huge numbers of MPs fall over themselves to identify themselves as Christians, as do peers in the House of Lords. Christians have representation in the legislature by way of 26 bishops of the Church of England. Christians run a third of our education system (using taxpayers’ money); they have representatives in all prisons, armed services and practically all hospitals (again state-funded). They are given hundreds of millions of pounds a year by the state in subsidies and tax breaks. Our national broadcaster (paid for by you and me) has a whole department devoted to promoting their faith (the BBC has just announced it is to broadcast a £4 million serial telling of the last days of Jesus).The Government has special committees and departments devoted to consulting religious groups (or, “the faith communities” as it irritatingly calls them), and now it is about to hand over huge swathes of our welfare system to religious bodies, even though they practise horrendous discrimination. Need I go on?
The speakers in the debate on Wednesday made all kinds of dubious claims about the centrality of Christianity in people’s lives and how much it has contributed to British culture. Yet according to the Church of England’s own figures, less than a million people are in its pews on an average Sunday – that’s out of a population of 61 million. Religion is no longer central to the life of this country. Naturally, traditionalists don’t like that, but it’s a fact of life. The British have voted with their feet when it comes to religious observance. What this debate represents is a real panic among Christians that they are losing their assumed control over the population in Britain. I’ve got news for them – they lost it a long time ago. A survey by the Home Office showed that when people were asked to list the aspects of life that were important to them, religion came ninth.
Also, a brief look at our history tells a different tale to the one being peddled in Westminster on Wednesday. In the nearly two thousand years that Christianity has been present in this country, it has reined over a terrible catalogue of brutality, repression, murder, warfare, power-broking and self-seeking. It has huge wealth, accumulated on the backs of the poor, and yet still it cries poverty.
What do British Christians know about persecution? Plenty – they’ve practised enough of it themselves over the centuries. The wars between Catholics and Protestants have killed millions. Democracy — which the proponents of this debate claim is a Christian invention and nothing to do with ancient Greece — was resisted every step of the way by the churches.
They claim human rights are a Christian invention – yet the churches have preached against individualism and self-determination for the whole of their existence. And let us not forget that the Church of England tried to get itself exempted from the Human Rights Act when it was being written into law in 1998, and the Vatican is the only European State that has not signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights.
Britain is changing, and it is a painful change for many people. They see our “traditions” being sold down the river by the supposedly all-powerful “secular PC brigade”. But the PC brigade are just those people working on the front line who see the real changes that are taking place, and must respond to them. If a school has a majority of children from non-Christian backgrounds, why should they have Christianity shoved down their throats? Come to that, why should they have any religion foisted on them in school?
The debate about this fantasy “Christianophobia”, together with the annual wailing over the de-Christianisation of Christmas, is really a cry of pain for an institution that is passing into history. It is time to wrench the reins of power from its hands and let it die with dignity (something it has denied to so many others).
Read the whole sad, crackpot debate here (if your blood pressure will stand it) or read our much condensed version