“Christianity deserves better worshippers”

by

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a practicing Muslim, begins an essay by decrying the disingenuous use of religion by political power structures as a means to achieve their secular ends. She has extremely harsh words for the theocracy of Iran, and the ruling family of Saudi Arabia. And then she turns to Britain and sees the same behavior by the Prime Minister Dave Cameron:

“Recently, David Cameron did just [the same sort of thing as the Muslim theocracies have done]. The state should be secular, religiously neutral. Yet our PM, once a spin doctor, appropriated divinity efficiently and timed his message precisely. He chose this season of peace and goodwill to rouse muscular, Anglican jingoism, partly to pick a fight again with “multiculturalism” but mostly, I think, to cleanse the many sins of his government. This is a Christian country, with Christian values, he decreed, and “we should not be afraid to say so”. Only it isn’t. When you consider our domestic and foreign policy or how people behave, Britain cannot be called Christian. And I wish it was. Truly I do, even though I am a Muslim. For at its best, Christianity is one of the world’s most humane and tender of religions and deserves a better class of worshipper than many of those who lay claim to it.

There are, of course, Britons who do follow the example of their Lord. I know good believers who shelter asylum-seekers, feed the hungry in soup kitchens, try hard to speak and do no evil, forgive those who hurt them and are not tempted by excessive materialism. They are, though, now diminishing. A major survey in 2010 found a long-term, steady decline in the number of practising Christians in Britain. Fifty per cent said they followed no organised religion. In 1983, that figure was 19 per cent. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, the numbers of disbelievers today is 64 per cent.

[…]If Britain were a more Christian country its people would not tolerate the rich, ruling elite punishing the most disadvantaged with harsh laws and unfair rhetoric. They would revolt against the state-created poverty upon us. They would preserve the welfare state – born at a time when the country was more Christian and understood mutuality and societal obligations. That generosity is gone.

[…]One feels for the truly faithful, such as Archbishops John Sentamu and Rowan Williams and, most of all, the Reverend Giles Fraser, who left St Paul’s when his church threatened to remove forcibly the peaceful people camped outside to protest against the capitalism that devastates economies, lives and the environment. These churchmen try to remind their people of Christ who came to save them, a child born to asylum-seekers. Their words are unheeded. Too many are like Cameron, part-time Christians of convenience, living for mammon, who use their religion as a weapon against those they despise, the poor, helpless and “alien”: all those embraced by Jesus Christ in his time.”

You can (and should) read the whole essay here.

Hat tip to Thinking Anglicans

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John D. Andrews
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John D. Andrews

Excellent article that applies just as much to the United States as it does Great Britain. It's refreshing to read an article by a Muslim who fears theocracy as much as I do. I believe two of the greatest aspects of the United States is it was founded as a secular nation and guarantees freedom of religion. If the United States or Great Britain were to become Christian nations I believe religious bigotry would increase. I have already seen the negative affect of theocracy on minority religions in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Egypt because of religious bigotry.

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jim Beyer
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Ann,

My apologies for the intrusion. I really should know better.

FWIW

jim Beyer

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David Allen
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David Allen

Being Roma himself, I have not known jimB to be predjudiced towards others. I doubt he was referring to Muslims when mentioning shooters and bombers.

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Ann Fontaine
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Ann Fontaine

Snark does not come through in comments unless set out with some indication. And you may call me Ann.

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Priscilla Cardinale
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Priscilla Cardinale

An interesting, thought-provoking essay that presents some rather uncomfortable truths and provides a place to start the New Year’s contemplation for me.

And while I can’t speak for Jim Beyer I took his comment to be snark. Maybe you read it more literally, Ms. Fontaine?

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GrandmèreMimi
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There is much to admire in the article, but I agree with Ellen. Be careful what you wish for when you wish for a Christian country.

June Butler

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Andrew Brown
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Andrew Brown

For as long as I have known her, Yasmin has been a woman.

Thanks Andrew ~ed.

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Ellen Lincourt
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Ellen Lincourt

We do not need a Christian country. We do need more Christians. One of the terrible things about combining religion and politics is that religion becomes corrupted. A man cannot worship two Gods. Politics is about power and runs counter to Christianity. To be a Christian is to be humble. In fact, I think it's clear that religion looses out more than politics does in the combining of the two. And let's face it, Christianity and Christians are at their best when we are outside the power struggles and keep our eyes upon heaven.

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Ann Fontaine
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Ann Fontaine

1. Muslim is the preferred name.

2. Are you accusing Muslims of being nutcases and bombers - Christians seem to have their share of these.

3.The "name silliness" as you call it helps maintain civil discourse.

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jim Beyer
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"When you consider our domestic and foreign policy or how people behave, Britain cannot be called Christian. And I wish it was. Truly I do, even though I am a Muslim. For at its best, Christianity is one of the world's most humane and tender of religions and deserves a better class of worshipper than many of those who lay claim to it."

This could have been written by an American, except for two things. Our, "Christian Nation" idiots are not in power -- yet; and no Moslem would dare here. Our "freedom of speech" does not cover nutcase shooters and bombers.

Lord have mercy!

FWIW

jim Beyer

(who is jimB everywhere else and seldom comments here because of the name silliness.)

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