UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

‘Wake-up’ to intolerance against Christians, archbishop says

February 13, 2009

The Church of England fought back this week against the “seeming intolerance and illiberality” aimed at their faith by public bodies.

Often seen as a peacemaker in a multi-faith Britain, church leaders and priests said it was time to give more voice to their own religion.

Recently, the media has been dotted with stories about Christians being ostracised in their workplace because of their faith.

Last week, a community nurse was suspended after offering to pray for a patient’s recovery before being reinstated, while this week a primary school receptionist was facing disciplinary action as a result of sending out an e-mail asking friends to pray for her daughter.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu said such behaviour “leads us to questions about how it is that those who share or express a trust in God – or more precisely, in these cases, in the Christian faith – are deemed worthy of discipline”.

Writing in the Daily Mail, the archbishop said these two cases were the symptom of a lack of understanding of Christianity, and it was time to reinstate its status.

“Those who display intolerance and ignorance, and would relegate the Christian faith to just another disposable lifestyle choice, argue that they operate in pursuit of policies based on the twin aims of ‘diversity and equality’.

“Yet in the minds of those charged with implementing such policies, ‘diversity’ apparently means every colour and creed except Christianity, the nominal religion of the white majority; and ‘equality’ seemingly excludes anyone, black or white, with a Christian belief in God,” he wrote.

“Those employed as public servants and charged with running our local services, be they schools, hospitals or councils, receive their public authority only under a system of governance which is constitutionally established from the ‘Queen in Parliament under God.’

“For public servants to use their authority to deny the legitimacy of the Christian faith, when they receive such authority only through the operation of that same faith, is not only unacceptable but an affront.

“The requirement of common consent that underpins any operation of the democratic contract is being placed under strain by those who, with the best of motives, are making the worst of mistakes.”

He added: “For those who despair at the treatment meted out to these Christian women, the message is clear: wake up, Christian England!”

The Revd. David Felix told the church’s General Synod a “religious illiteracy” existed in many public bodies.

“They find it hard to acknowledge that the Church of England exists for the benefit of all, and not just its members,” he said.

He called on members to become more involved in civic society.

“Civic society also exists for you and me,” he said. “We’ve got to get stuck in and stay there.

“And if that means that we have to keep correcting, challenging or reminding the others at the table just who we are, then so be it.”

Meanwhile, Paul Eddy asked the synod: “If the CofE, which values its parish system as a unique mission opportunity, does not actively seek to offer Christ to these people, could we be creating ‘no-go areas for the Gospel’ by a sin of omission?”

He added: “I would strongly argue that we are failing in our duty as Christians, and failing in our duty as the state church, if we do not offer the claims of Jesus Christ, and salvation through Him alone, to people of other faiths.”

“We must not allow the arguments for diplomacy and social cohesion to detract from our primary calling to be Christ’s disciples and evangelists.”

Comments

Good for John Sentamu,good for the Church of England,(at last).Will the Church of Scotland do the same ?

Posted by Murray | Report as abusive
 

I rarely agree with the public utterances of bishops but in this case I do. Sentamu does however dissemble by placing the source of the intolerance of which he complains at the door of faceless “public servants” and “public bodies” which cannot be called to account.If he had done his homework properly he would know that the actions of these people stem directly from an amendment to the equality legislation made by the current government in 2002, which requires that all publicly funded bodies will “positively promote the principles of diversity” in all their dealings. These few fine-sounding words legitimise and encourage (as intended) the myriad acts of subversion and propaganda which are collectively known as “political correctness”. Anyone who doubts it need only sit in the public gallery at a meeting of their local council or government tribunal to hear the government placemen invoke the authority of that legislation as they browbeat their colleagues into accepting yet another small step towards undermining the fabric of traditional British society.It is interesting to note that Reuters promotes the same clever brand of insidious misinformation in this blog, by stating baldly and inaccurately that Britain is a “multi-faith” country. It is in fact a Christian country with a legally established national church which tolerates the practice of other faiths. There is a very, very big difference between the two situations and Reuters really should know the difference. If it has any interest in the “impartial reporting” that the media brags about, it should publish a correction. Unless of course, Reuters receives public funds, in which case it is doing no more than the British government requires it to do.

Posted by Andrew | Report as abusive
 

“For public servants to use their authority to deny the legitimacy of the Christian faith, when they receive such authority only through the operation of that same faith, is not only unacceptable but an affront”I’m not sure we’ve heard such nonsense since the trial of Charles I in 1649, but there you have it. These people regard this country as their personal fiefdom “under God”. Stark raving bonkers. If you want to live in a theocracy, go to Iran. The sooner we finally secularise our constitution the better.

Posted by Matthew | Report as abusive
 

I agree wholeheartedly with what Andrew is saying.

Posted by Jimmer XXXX | Report as abusive
 

This Government imposed obsession with faith is designed to keep the population at eachothers throats whilst erosion of our freedoms is resignedly accepted in the name of diversity and equality.simple.

 

In these days, you should not offend any religion, except Christianity. People must be sensitive to the feelings of the people belonging to any religion except Christians. You are an intellectual if you attack Christianity, you are a bigot if you attack others.The deChristianization is a sad reality. Our children are growing up in a society that espouses anti-life and anti family. Gone were the days that we are taught to pray.I don’t know if the Anti Christs will dominate the world, but I still believe what our Lord Jesus Christ promised that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I just hope and pray that the enemies of the Church will experience conversion and realize the purity of Christ’s teachings. All we need is to build a civilization of love and condemn the civilization of hate that there may be peace in this world.

Posted by Daniel Rosaupan | Report as abusive
 

One doesn’t have to be a left-liberal to disapprove of Christianity; I am a secular progressive conservative. The state should certainly not discriminate against Christianity relative to other religions out of political correctness, but nor should it discriminate in favour of any religion – but it does. It is time that we abandoned all religions, they are all based on delusions, and none of them improve society. If people would only abandon the twin false hopes of religion and socialism/PC, we could work to craft enlightened, progressive, secular conservative responses to our society’s many problems.

Posted by Oliver Chettle | Report as abusive
 

Oliver, we owe the majority of our civilization from Christianity. It was the Catholic Church who pioneered hospitals, universities and charity around the world. We are here because of Christianity. Even our laws were heavily influence by Christian doctrines and principles. If only all people will exert effort to study and live Christian teachings, there will be peace on earth. Only in Christianity where we can encounter a teaching to love your enemies.

Posted by Daniel Rosaupan | Report as abusive
 

Everyone may as well line up with Almighty God, as He will pravail, in his time.

 

AMEN! IN GOD WE TRUST

Posted by Ms.V | Report as abusive
 

“Understanding” is a two way street. In neither case does the column (or, one suspects, His Grace) record whether those people who were disciplined bothered to ask or even understood that their statements and emails could be highly offensive if directed to the wrong people.(And not merely to atheists, of course. Anyone who has read and been convinced by Tolstoy’s later works would be offended this faith in magic demonstrated by people who dare to call themselves Christian, or the moral absolutism displayed by so many of our clergy, when Christians should surely be moral relativists.)If they had bothered to check first, then that might tempt one to regard them with at least some sympathy – but if they had, His Grace would surely have mentioned it for that very reason. So it seems safe to conclude that, like so many of today’s whining “Christians”, they got just as much understanding as they gave….

Posted by Ian Kemmish | Report as abusive
 

oliver, the impression you are giving,whether or not that is your intention?that secular progressives transcend into an enlighten state of awareness,as they march on to a total world tranquillity.living in southern califoria this has proved to be the opposite ,if you disagree with their hyperthetical mandates you are vilified and attacked, brian christian and pragmatist.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive
 

I have chosen to be a christian, has it happens, like it says on the can, a member of The Church of England.And as I’m not a missionary, I don’t give two hoots what you believe or not believe.What I do know is this, Christ said if you are ashamed of me here, I will be ashamed of you when we meet my Father, or words to that effect.But in the event of you not believing, can you give me an explanation of why, 2000+ years years down the road, this ordinary man, as you would have us believe, holds the faith of many thousands?And with regard to other faiths living in England, do you think for one moment you could set up a Christian church on every street corner in say Saudi Arabia or Iran?If you answer yes to the previous paragraph, Ive got to inform you that the world is a globe, not flat.I’m afraid our visiting faiths have mistaken kindness for weakness.Having been a member of the armed forces for many years, now retired, I have lost count of the number of loud mouthed non believers, until strangely the last few minutes of their sad existance, when I assume they want to back themselves both ways ‘just in case’.And with that I wish you all you want and hopefully not what you deserve.

Posted by axia | Report as abusive
 

In my opinion, religion and a relationship with God is a very personal issue. Fellowship with those that believe the same as you is a good thing, but in the end the relationship that exists between you and God is just that, between you and God. Religion is a way to push agendas by people banding together under the religion umbrella. Shameful.

 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
  •