Something in your eye, Mr Cameron?
I find the undertones of Cameron’s speech on Christianity quite disturbing. Whilst some have read it in a very favourable light, a look at the manipulation of American Evangelicalism by Karl Rove and other Republican Party Grandees should show just how dangerous this speech is. At a time when Bishops and other church leaders are raising their voices in opposition to
David Cameron’s statement about Britain being a Christian country do not fill me with satisfaction. First, because the church is not, and should not be, the teacher of morality and subservience. It is a role in society we should be glad to have left behind. You only have to look at parts of the protestant church in Europe to see that replacing the teaching of the gospel with the teaching of mild mannered behaviour has essentially killed off many congregations and made them into social clubs for the well behaved to complain about the world outside.
Of course, Christians need to seek to be changed into Christ’s likeness. There are plenty of behavioural and attitude changes one should seek in one’s self, and the whole Church within the West needs bringing to account on many of these. A society full of Christians living out Christ-like attributes would not look anything like British society today.
Jesus taught his disciples and followers a lesson with humorous imagery: “What good is it to tell a someone that they have a speck of wood in their eye, when you have a plank in your own? Surely you need to remove the plank first!"
We often read this as entirely humorous, to the extent we miss the connection between the substance of the speck and the substance of the plank – they’re both from the same origin. We could say “What good is it to demand harsh punishments for someone who has stolen a pair of trainers, when you yourself have raided the public coffers for exorbitant expenses?”. “What good is it to call someone a benefits cheat for receiving a few hundred pounds a month, when you sustain your life of luxury on corporate welfare hand-outs every time your sector runs into difficulties?” Perhaps there is a link to Jesus more straightforward statement “As you sow, so shall you reap”.
Jesus declaration that the “Meek shall Inherit the Earth” can so easily be twisted into “Those who suffer in silence and don’t rock the boat shall inherit the Earth”. But that undermines the entire message of the Sermon on the Mount. Surely what Jesus was actually saying was that those who force injustice and suffering on others have no place in Christ’s Kingdom. If Cameron wants Britain to be a Christian Country, with Christian Values, it is his political backers and not his religious detractors to whom his concerns should be addressed, and the Church must be prepared to stand up against his twisting of the Gospel to suit the whims of the rich and powerful.