The rise of religious politics
Each time I think about the ministry of Jesus Christ when he trod the lands of Judea and Samaria as depicted in the gospels I am at times wont to channel Mahatma Gandhi when he was purported to say, “I like your Christ but dislike your Christians.”
Over the last few decades or so, a brand of this religion has emerged which looks very much like modern-day expressions of other Abrahamic faiths, political Judaism with its cauldron in Israel has held the world to ransom with Gentile guilt for the Holocaust and other pogroms that go back centuries, political Islam first expressed in Saudi Arabia, then radicalised in Iran before it was hijacked to be become a potent terrorist movement once spearheaded that the Al Qaeda crusade and political Christianity.
This, I dare say is more widespread and finds expression in social issues that polarise, attempt to ostracise and in terms can be quite discriminatory in a world that is tending more towards secularity than the Dark Ages of moralising sententiousness.
The Christian right and wrongs
In America, it started with the abortion wars, then the issue of homosexuality, gay marriage and stem cell research. God or at least the Christian God is inserted into every debate of the right to have slaves then to prayer, to bear arms, to limit opportunity where a majority of Americans are not by any stretch of the imagination native to the land they have colonised corralling the Native Americans into reservations with money-making casinos and attendant mental issues.
In Africa, they have not rallied round the cross Jesus so succinctly said they should bear and follow him but around an obsession with homosexuality as observed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and a gullible flock of bees feasting on the narcotic pollen of the prosperity gospel.
The activist Christian
In Europe, homosexuality and gay marriage and aggression secularism taking hold in our societies have become the gospel of Not as preached by the Holy Padre in the Vatican, who without much distraction cannot have been oblivious of the clergy who have said mass in the name of the Catholic Church whilst satisfying their lascivious tendencies with the innocence of the small – much prosecuted for redress and justice in North America and Europe but no one has lifted the lid on possible heinous deeds in Africa, Latin America or Asia.
The issue of women having titular roles in the Anglican Church is as engaging as it is disheartening much as gay marriage, abortion issues, reverse missionary journeys – where Africans are coming to Europe to open churches along with pervasive issues of financial impropriety or excess – our televisions have become the means of intruding on our lives without necessarily affecting our lives.
It isn’t Christians in the love for humanity
The most compassionate of our humanity campaigning against grinding poverty, debilitating disease, bad governance or war are hardly religious, they are pop stars and billionaires who openly shame the many followers who have long departed from the ideals of the founders of their systems of faith and have become activists portraying a sense of being under siege from the world around them and being discriminated against.
That many have conflated persecution which comes from adherence to faith with discrimination which is borne of taking social positions against secular norms that allows for diverse strands of humanity to live in some semblance of communal bliss is most interesting and it is exemplified in symbols and beliefs that seek to discriminate and differentiate, ostracising those who in a secular setting have a right to service denied them by those paid in public service to be professional about their vocations.
The cross and the belief
Four Christians having exhausted all legal process in the UK when to Europe to seek redress and a judgement on the matter was pronounced on Tuesday.
Two of them were challenging the decision of their employers to exclude and sanction them for wearing crosses and the other two working for social service organisations put their beliefs before the interests of people who presumably have lifestyles they disagree with.
I am glad that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) proffered arguments that came out in support of one and against the other three.
Christian identity most morose
On the matter of wearing a cross, whilst it might well be symbolic of Christian faith, it is not mandated as an expression by law or doctrine that practitioners of the faith should wear a cross to portray what some have called a Christian identity.
Christian identity in my view is political-speak and if what that means is wearing jewellery moulded as a cross and a representation of the amazing gospel of the man that walked the roads of Judea and Galilee two millennia ago, then we are much poorer for what it really represents apart from the fact that it has patently lost its power to affect people’s lives.
Christianity is supposed to be a light and lamp, a light to gain perspective of beauty and a lamp to show the path when one walks in the dark. That same light when shone brightly into the eye for all the goodness and pleasure it bring to sight and vision, risks blinding the person – In other words, it should never be in-your-face whilst at the same time efficacious.
Reasonableness always wins
I can very when agree that it is reasonable to wear a cross in the workplace as long as there are no requirements for sterility in a controlled environment like a hospital. It would be trite to bring up the matter of whether cross wearers do sterilise their crosses and that is beside the point that there are many who wear crosses that are hardly Christian in belief or in practice.
In the case of the other two, one with professional duties of conducting marriages on behalf of the state and the other trained to provide relationship counselling, in a society comprised of diverse belief systems and governed by a compromise of secularity that seeks to get everyone to co-exist, it is antithetical to professional conduct to refuse to despatch services you paid to provide because of a sentiment.
Our secularity is paramount
The need to separate church and state cannot be more pertinent than to have individuals arrogate to themselves rights that conflict with community in order to prove a religious point – we do not live a theocracy and we do not believe the same.
It goes without saying that I am of the opinion that if such people intend to place their beliefs above secular co-existence, they should seek employment where only their beliefs are paramount.
The moment we engage with the public we become subject to the norms that promote societal cohesion as is necessary for the compromise of secularity we have adopted in our somewhat mature civilisations that confers the freedom to religion but not that right to use it to discriminate and contemn the lives of other members of our diverse humanity.
Where I stand
I take no positions on any of the matters I have raised apart from these reasonable views, we should protect our children from sexual exploitation and pursue to the ends of the earth anyone who have abused and violated children for any ends.
The matter of abortion should be between the woman, her doctor and her conscience, if health issues are of significance, then the law should support the safety of the female over the consequences for the unborn.
That the Israeli-Palestinian issue should be brought to a resolution that allows Israel to exist safely whilst restoring a greater sense of dignity to the Palestinians in their land with all that rightfully belongs to them.
To reason to all
That the separation of religion and state must be inviolable, Christians do not own the institution of marriage and whilst their beliefs are widespread their views cannot be allowed to denigrate the beliefs and lives of others – we need to reach an accommodation and that is mostly on the side of religionists than on the side of secularists.
I applaud the judgement of the ECHR, there was no discrimination in the case of the three that lost; they tried to assume victim status to excuse their unprofessional obstinacy that many including the judges saw through.
The Gospel of Not has lost against the fight to live and let live – long may it be so.