Politics and Religion

The Chief Rabbi, Dr Ephraim Mirvis, has (justifiably) castigated the Labour party for failing to deal with institutional Anti-Semitism in its midst. No sooner had the Rabbi’s statement been made public than the Muslim Council of Great Britain, predictably, made an equal and opposite claim.

“Muslims are a diverse community and realise different Muslims will make up their own minds on who to vote for. But the way that the Chief Rabbi had shared his experiences and insights, has highlighted the importance of speaking out on the racism we face, whilst maintaining our non-partisan stance. 

As a faith community, we commonly are threatened by Islamophobia. This an issue that is particularly acute in the Conservative Party who have approached Islamophobia with denial, dismissal and deceit. It is abundantly clear to many Muslims that the Conservative Party tolerates Islamophobia, allows it to fester in society, and fails to put in place the measures necessary to root out this type of racism. It is as if the Conservative Party has a blind spot for this type of racism. 

But distinctions need to be made.

Anti-semitism, in this and other countries, has had a long and varied history. It is inevitably coloured by recollections of the Russian pogroms and Nazi death camps. Which caused so many Jews to flee to England for security and tolerance. The fantasies of a Jewish plot for World domination have proved, on examination, to be febrile and unfounded. No tenet of Rabbinic Judaism encourages or sanctions violence.

Islamophobia, by contrast, is a relatively new phenomenon. Its very name is a recent construct, about which there has been no little controversy. It has arisen in the West largely in response to actual violence by terrorists claiming Muslim allegiance (the Twin Towers, the Charlie Hebdo incident, and countless others). There can be no doubt that one interpretation of Islamic texts sanctions such outrages.

It is a sad fact, however, that no political party in the United Kingdom respects the core beliefs of religious people, be they Muslim, Jewish or Christian. On major issues like abortion, euthanasia and sexual ethics the consensus of the political class (Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat) is far removed from the precepts of any of the ‘Abrahamic faiths’.

This is no time to jockey for victim status between them. It is a time to make common cause in the name of all that is holy.

Vox populi, vox Dei

Above is the official CofE prayer for the forthcoming General Election. It makes claims on behalf of participatory democracy which no Christian can or should make – that it reveals the will of God: ‘as we discover your will for our country’.

Adolf Hitler achieved the Chancelorship by democratic means. Does this mean that the Nazi regime was God’s will for Germany? Nearer home: Is a government in the United Kingdom which upholds and enacts abortion on demand until birth, permissive euthanasia, same sex marriage and transsexual equality revealing the will of God? What is God’s view on nuclear weapons? And in what way can it be said to be decided at the ballot box?

Before the Church of England accelerates its Gadarene stampede to catch up with the zeitgeist, it should at least consider that the democratic process may as well (and often does) result in plain contradiction to the Word of God.

This in not a prayer, but an incitement to civic duty.

Jew-ish?

There is, as the saying goes, nothing so illiberal as a liberal. But Jo Swinson’s party seems recently to have been seeking to vindicate the caricature by its opponents as neither Democratic nor Liberal.

Step forward Bob Flello, a former Labour MP who put himself forward as a Lib/Dem candidate in the forthcoming election. He went though the usual process, and was duly notified of his selection. It was then that the problems began. Things he had said – posts on social media – clearly indicated that, as a Catholic, he was opposed to abortion and same sex marriage and had difficulties with the transsexual agenda. Whist it was agreed that he had done nothing plainly to disqualify him, and though these facts were not specifically brought up in evidence, there was a ’feeling’ that his sentiments did not fully accord with ‘our values’. (And this in a party whose former leader had retired from politics for holding much the same views!) He was stood down.

A week is said to be a long time in politics – and we can also reasonably conclude that ‘wokeness’ in political parties is progressing at an exponential rate. Difficulties in the media over Jacob Rees-Mogg’s uncompromising Catholicism indicate that this is a development not restricted to the Liberal Democrats.  And the stance of Momentum is very clear.

As we approach the bicentenary of the Catholic Relief Act of 1829, it is surely necessary to ask: How long before Catholics are once more excluded from Parliament?  It is obvious from many indicators that wokeness has ceased to be an attitude and has become a religion. And, like religions in their first flush of enthusiasm, it is eager to persecute those who differ. Of course, there will be no burnings at the stake or even penal laws this time; but, by a process of deselection and ‘no-platforming’, the alternative voice will be silenced.

Are Catholics to become the new Jews of the left-liberal consensus?  It is a question to be asked.

Parlour Game

As Christmas approaches here is a game for all the family:

Locate the doctrinal ‘developments’ of Pope Francis on the Syllabus of Errors of Pope Pius IX.

Pio Nono’s Syllabus is available on the internet, and provides informative reading for all those born after 1960,

Vatican goes Carbon Neutral

The new papal Yacht

Not only has Pope Francis decreed that the Christmas Tree in S. Peter’s Square should be lit by energy saving bulbs provided free of charge by OSRAM, but complementary changes are being made throughout the city state.

Thermostats are being lowered and DAMART underwear is being provided for all Vatican officials by the GRETA THUNBERG CORPORATION. A new electric Popemobile has been ordered. But perhaps the most significant change will affect future Papal visits overseas. Francis will henceforward travel by yacht, assisted only by wind power. Gone are the days of continent-hopping, with its huge carbon footprint. Papal journeys will take longer and journalists will need to be prepared for extended intervals at sea.

The Holy Father will use the time to revise the Catechism, develop new doctrines, and play deck quoits with the press corps.

Fr Antonio Spadaro is being modified to run on hot air alone.

Baptismal Degeneration

Mary Macalisse, former President of the Irish Republic (who has recently been made a canon of Christ Church Anglican Cathedral, Dublin) is reportedly of the opinion that infant baptism is an assault on the human rights of the child. Children, she says, should not be ‘forcibly recruited’, but left to make their own decisions about religious affiliation in due course.

A familiar story came immediately to mind..

The 16th century Scottish historian Robert Lindsay of Pitscottie,  in his Historie and Chronicles of Scotland, compiled almost 100 years later tells of Jame IV of Scotland. He explains: 

The king also caused [to] take one deaf woman, and put her in Inchkeith, and give her two bairns with her, and furnish her in all necessary things pertaining to their nourishment, desiring hereby to know what languages they had when they came to the age of perfect speech. Some say they could speak Hebrew, but for my part I know not but from [other people’s] reports.

Did the children really learn to speak fluent Hebrew? You can make your own mind up on that one—but as Sir Walter Scott later commented, “It is more likely they would scream like their dumb nurse, or bleat like the goats and sheep on the island.”

Like a child denied nurture in language, a child deprived of the spiritual and moral tutelage of religion would have no criteria on which to make the free decision which is so important to Ms Macalesse. He or she, adrift in a world of amorphous relativities, would be incapable of rational choice.

It is a parental right and duty to share with children all that is right and good. Tragically for parents, it is the right of offspring to renounce that proffered heritage.

Me Peter, you Jayne

Dear Frank,

I am so grateful that you found time to meet with Jayne Ozanne and receive her powerful testimony. Jayne, as I am sure you have grasped, represents all that is honest, Spirit-filled and forward looking in the Church of England. I am so proud of her and her witness.

If our churches are to reverse decline and move on, we must listen to the Spirit of the Age. Jayne, despite all her neuroses, is showing us the way. I have to admit that our dear old CofE is not exactly thriving at the moment, with only 1% of young people admitting to affiliation; but the darkest hour comes before the dawn, and so we must just persevere in the daring course we have adopted.

Of course, like you, we have our gainsayers – the rigid and the neo-Pelagians. They are just nostalgic for the old days, when churches were full and sermons hardly never referred to sex. But like the nostalgia for Empire, we have to put such things behind us. We have moved on!

People like Jayne show us the way forward. As your visionary Amazon Synod goes to show, we must all become inculturated into the changing world around us.  Jayne is part of the ecology of the world in which we live. She is part of the glorious diversity of race, custom and religion which God has given us in his wonderful creation.  

Yours inclusively.

Justin