I am slightly bemused but not really surprised that there has been a debate in Parliament on the subject of Christianophobia. Apparently the word exists. It's no surprise to find that it was an invention of right wing American Christians in books with titles like "Is Europe Dying? Notes on a Crisis of Civilizational Morale". Check this summary, read the comments, and be angered/scared in equal proportions. But enough of America's starey eyed over articulate fundamentalists. I wonder what Christianophobia means in Britain. And I wonder what the LibDem response was in the debate - haven't had a chance to look it up yet.
I am a Christian, though not a model one. I rarely go to church because I do not find God there; I preach occasionally, on behalf of Christian Aid. I must be in a minority as far as Mark Pritchard is concerned because I do not feel discriminated against in the slightest. I do wonder what people mean when they talk about the UK's (or is it "England's" - that's another debate entirely) Christian traditions, heritage, culture, all that stuff. The current fact is that I am in a minority as far as being a practising Christian is concerned, and I do not see that I have any more right than any other religionist to determine the social and legal mores of the country I live in. As a Christian I find it laughable that people call this country "Christian". It isn't any more, and hasn't been for a long time. OK, fellow Christians, get over it. There's nothing to prevent Christmas being Christ-mas if we want it to be so for ourselves, but we need to face the fact that for the vast majority of the country, it's a retail festival. People are free to make of Christmas what they will, and what the majority choose to make of it is a credit card debt. Let them.
If we want to be taken seriously, then maybe we should take ourselves more seriously. The main choices I have at the moment are:
- an international brand many of whose adherents worship Mary more than Jesus, and whose hierarchy has only just given up (if in fact it has given up) protecting for life any priest that has been found abusing children, and has still to come clean about its role in the persecution of Jews during the Nazi era
- my own brand, also international, who seem to believe that the three desirable qualities are faith, hope and niceness, and the greatest of these is niceness, except when it comes to either gay priests or women as bishops, depending on which flavour you're with at the time, but who in fact seem to spend far too much of their time wringing their hands over the cost of running their huge cathedrals. But we're led by a man with a nice beard.
- the silliest lot by far who indulge in the most extraordinary intellectual gymnastics to insist that every word of the bible is literally true, and that all the bits about homosexuals have to be obeyed, while all the bits about living simply are to be interpreted. (Short pause while I wait for a thunderbolt to strike.... Nope. Still hasn't.)
Don't get me wrong. I know, as well as anyone, that a lot of good work is done by Christians, and a lot of valid prayer is prayed by Christians. But we don't half spend a lot of time messing about as well.
There is a paradox or two at the heart of this, which I'm not sure I have the capacity to explain, but I'll try. One part of it is that any rational observer looking at this country would say that Christianity is by far the most powerful religion in it (with the possible exception of shopping). Yet there are Christians who genuinely feel put upon. It's not a majority, as Mr Pritchard would like to claim. Mr Pritchard said apparently that we should claim "full minority rights". It would be helpful if first we admitted that we *are* a minority, and stopped expecting to be treated differently just because the majority of the country "used to be" Christians. Perhaps some individual Christians do have a hard time if they try to put their faith into practice, but, despite all the press about political correctness, I doubt if it's any harder than it is for the average Muslim, Hindu, Jainist, etc.
I'm not sure if this is good blog etiquette but I'm going to end this post here in this unfinished form. I have more thoughts coming, but they're in too complex a form to express yet, and I'd like to see what reactions this post gets while it's still fresh.