The Curmudgeon


Sunday, January 06, 2008

British Faith for British Greatness

Now that the season of goodwill is safely behind us, the Bishop of Rochester has had a bit of a blather in the Torygraph about the ways in which the evil Muslims, multiculturalists and secularists are undermining "that vision of its destiny which made [Britain] great". I knew there must be some reason why we lost India.

The Muslims are undermining us by turning their communities into "no-go" areas and "insisting on artificial amplification for the Adhan, the call to prayer". This "raises all sorts of questions about noise levels", apparently because the means of such amplification were "unknown throughout most of history". It seems possible that urban noise levels in the present anno domini - traffic, car alarms, public address systems yelling at hoodies, destiny-conscious Britons listening to Thought for the Day on their iPods - might have something to do with certain mosques' wish to assert their presence more loudly; but since the Bishop does not stoop to give examples, the matter is presumably not one he finds terribly urgent. He even admits the existence of Decent Muslims who "are trying to reduce noise levels from multiple mosques announcing this call, one after the other, over quite a small geographical area", but again fails to specify where. The relationship between piety and reality is rarely an easy one.

The Bishop is also concerned that, despite the non-demise of Christmas as a Christian celebration, "it is now less possible for Christianity to be the public faith in Britain" thanks to lack of funding for "chapels and chaplaincies in places such as hospitals, prisons and institutions of further and higher education", or else because "the authorities want 'multifaith' provision, without regard to the distinctively Christian character of the nation's laws, values, customs and culture". This has come about "because of a 'neutral' secularist approach which refuses to privilege any faith". If only the vile atheists like Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Ruth Kelly and the rest would be less secular in their approach, millions of destiny-conscious Britons would be banging on the doors of churches all around the country, provided the Muslims didn't scare them away. Also, "secularism has its own agenda", while the Bishop has only God's; "and it is certainly not neutral". Since secularists are people who hold certain opinions (viz. secular ones), it is difficult to see how they could be "neutral", at least on this particular topic. A more interesting question might be whether their agenda makes any sense; but the Bishop appears to find this line of inquiry unduly tainted with worldliness.

The solution to it all: Britain must "recover that vision of its destiny which made it great. That has to do with the Bible's teaching that we have equal dignity and freedom because we are all made in God's image", always provided we do not use our freedom to insist on artificial amplification for the call to prayer. I would be interested to know from which part of the Bible the Bishop derives this teaching; the little Scripture I can recall has mainly to do with the superior dignity and freedom of Christians and Jews, with wailing and gnashing of teeth for the rest of us. As to the sense of destiny which made us great: "It has to do with a prophetic passion" for abstract nouns "and it has to do with the teaching and example of Jesus Christ regarding humility, service and sacrifice"; which is, of course, why the Bishop's particular brand of Christianity must be privileged, paid and subsidised.


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