Thursday, 6 May 2010

Perspectives on Persecution

There’s been a growing voice from some Christians in the UK about fears that the church is being marginalised and even that individual Christians are being persecuted for their religious beliefs.

However, when you look at the question of persecution, you recognise that in other parts of the world there is real oppression of Christians.

A major report from the Church of Scotland’s World Mission Council for this year’s General Assembly analyses some of the most troubled parts of the world.

So it is important to maintain a bit of perspective.

The Church here still has a great deal of status, based on things to do with the traditions and history and culture of the society we live in.

However, the society we live in is always changing, and the changes mean we need to reaffirm our role and the principles and values that we stand for.

The origins of the Church was at the margins. Maybe we should be more focused at getting back to the margins to find a new way forward, rather than trying to claim that we deserve special protection or privilege. Our priority is to stand alongside the poor, not to be obsessed by litigation. Awareness of the scale of persecution around the world should be our call to action, rather than the personal concerns individuals in this country who fear a diminishing of their own influence.

Where Christians find themselves unable to work for a particular employer because of their convictions, rather than immediately blaming the situation on ‘rampant secularisation’, perhaps they should first examine their own thoughts.

Steve Clifford’s article in The Independent makes the same point – “Every case builds the wall a little higher and the disconnect between Church and society grows.” A similar point has been made by several Christian-based political organisations in the run-up to the General Election regarding the widely-derided ‘Westminster Declaration 2010’.

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