UK Christians: persecuted or not?

In the UK some Christians, including the ex-Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey,  have launched a ‘Not Ashamed Day’ protesting at the ‘suffering’ of Christians who have been treated badly because of their faith. (Thks SM for the heads up)

The organisations involved are Christian Concern and The Christian Legal Centre.

You can read some of the stories here.You can even buy Not Ashamed wristbands.

What do you think?

Other UK Christians are not impressed.

Commenting on the launch UK, Ekklesia co-director Jonathan Bartley said:

“Christians should not be ashamed of our faith, but nor should they be afraid to listen to others and learn from them. What they should be ashamed of, however, is the reputation that they are developing for exaggeration, misleading people and discriminating against others.

“Since 2005, when we first predicted the growth in claims of ‘persecution’, we have been closely examining individual cases and what lies behind them. We have found no evidence to back up the claim of the ‘Not Ashamed’ campaign that Christians as a group are being systematically marginalised in Britain. We have found consistent evidence, however, of some Christians misleading people and exaggerating what is really going on, as well as treating other Christians, those of other faith and those of no faith, in discriminatory ways.”

His co-directorial colleague, Simon Barrow, added:

“using language that mixes up the inconveniences and challenges of living in a mixed society with the terror of living in a disintegrating or dictatorial one is something those involved in spreading the ‘British Christians are persecuted’ notion should most definitely be ashamed of.

“We need to be theologically clear amidst the siren voices of alarm. That Christians do not rule others in the way they once did, does not amount to ‘persecution’. Instead, it is an invitation to rediscover patterns of church life in a plural society which show the heart of the Christian message to be about embracing others, not isolating ourselves; multiplying hope, not spreading fear; developing peaceableness, not resorting to aggression; and advancing compassion, rather than retreating into defensiveness.”

Bishop Nick Baines said this

Being marginalised, misrepresented or misquoted is not the same as being persecuted. And it isn’t just a matter of semantics.

Christians are being persecuted in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, parts of Africa and the Middle East. Being ridiculed a bit or misrepresented by the religiously illiterate in Britain is a pain and poses challenges – but it is not persecution.

Instead Bishop Baines wants

to encourage Christians to stop seeing themselves as pathetic victims, recognise the amazing freedom we have in (and massive contribution we make to) British society both locally and nationally… and get out there more confidently with the unique gift of Christian faith, service and apologetics.

I’m with the Bishop and not the ex-Archbishop on this one. Christians in the UK (and Ireland) have undreamt of freedoms compared to many Christians around the world who are dying for their faith. To talk of ‘suffering’ is actually scandalous.

And there is a strong sub-text in the Not Ashamed campaign of ‘re-claiming’ Britain’s Christian heritage. Now where have I heard that language before?

6 thoughts on “UK Christians: persecuted or not?

  1. Hi Jaybercrow and welcome. Yup – I think its not so much that there is not a real issue of religious liberty here and a real possibility of an increasingly illiberal liberalism – but that Christians equating this with suffering and persecution does them and their case no good at all and actually discredits the church in general. It is also rooted in all sorts of modern assumptions of rights that would have been incomprehensible to the first Christians.

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