Saturday, February 18, 2012

A faith to die for?

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, who seems far more outspoken about Christianity now than he did when he was Archbishop of Canterbury, had some pertinent words this week about the British legal system and a "tiny majority of secularists who will stop at nothing in their attempt to sideline Christianity."

British Christians, he said in an interview in the Spectator, should not see themselves as martyrs. "We are still very lucky in this country. Unlike in other countries, we can practise freely. What we are talking about here is discrimination, not persecution."

But discrimination might be a prelude to something more sinister. The silent majority must stand up for religious freedoms before it's too late.

"It's up to us to do something. We've got to shake up the clergy, shake up the people, encourage them to get over the attitude of 'We can do nothing about it, this is now a post-Christian age.'"

British Anglicans have much to learn from their African counterparts, he said. "For them, faith is so important that they would face death for it if it came to that. It's not an old overcoat you can dispense with. Maybe we have got to learn to be more committed to our faith."

Baroness Warsi, chairman of the Conservative Party and a cabinet minister, led a ministerial delegation from the United Kingdom to the Vatican this week. In a speech to the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, she complained of a militant secularisation that is "at its core and in its instincts. . . deeply intolerant."

We have got to the stage, she said, where aggressive secularism is being imposed by stealth, "leaving us with the ironic situation where, to stave off intolerance against minorities, we end up by being intolerant against religion itself."

Europe, where faith is sidelined, marginalised and downgraded, she said, needs to become more confident in its Christianity. "People need to feel stronger in their religious identities, more confident in their beliefs," with "individuals not diluting their faith and nations not denying their religious heritage."

Fine words.

The trouble is that Baroness Warsi supports a Prime Minister who says he is a Christian and a churchgoer, but who supports abortion rights, who supports homosexuality and who intends to alter laws on marriage so marriage can include two people of the same sex. Christians, he has said, should be "tolerant and welcoming and broad-minded" in their attitude to homosexuality.

Just to clear things up, could Baroness Warsi tell us what type of Christianity she thinks Christians should be more confident in?