Monday, April 13, 2015

Christian? 'Intolerant, superstitious and backward'

Christians are the sort of people who built our civilisation, founded our democracies, developed our modern ideas of rights and justice, ended slavery, established universal education and who are now in the forefront of the fight against poverty, prejudice and ignorance.

Yet Christians have been swamped with such a tidal wave of prejudice and negativity that to call yourself a Christian in contemporary Britain is to declare yourself intolerant, naive, superstitious and backward. And invite pity, condescension or cool dismissal.

So says former Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove.

How did it come to this?

"The contrast between the Christianity I see our culture belittle nightly and the Christianity I see our country benefit from daily could not be greater," writes Gove in the Spectator.

"The reality of Christian mission in today's churches is a story of thousands of quiet kindnesses. In many of our most disadvantaged communities it is the churches that provide warmth, food, friendship and support for individuals who have fallen on the worst of times. The homeless, those in the grip of alcoholism or drug addiction, individuals with undiagnosed mental health problems and those overwhelmed by multiple crises are all helped - in innumerable ways - by Christians.

"Churches provide debt counselling, marriage guidance, childcare, English language lessons, after-school clubs, food banks, emergency accommodation and sometimes most importantly of all, someone to listen. . .

"Belief in the unique and valuable nature of every individual should make us angry at oppression, at the racism which divides and the prejudice which demeans humanity. And it was deep, radical Christian faith which inspired many of our greatest political heroes - Wilberforce, Shaftesbury, Lincoln, Gladstone, Pope John Paul II and Martin Luther King. There should be nothing to be ashamed of in finding their example inspirational, the words and beliefs that moved them beautiful and true."

Parliament may have its share of black sheep. But thank God, say I, for someone who is a Christian and is not afraid to say so.

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