By John-Henry Westen

LONDON, November 7, 2006 ( – In France, religious symbols have been banned in schools. In Britain, legislative proposals would forbid protest by religious groups against works of ‘art’ which mock religion.“In Europe, in what Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, has described as‘pushing God to the margins’ by ‘secular forces’ seeking to privatise religious faith, Rocco Buttiglione was forcibly barred from taking the post of European Justice Commissioner for his traditional Catholic views on homosexuality and gender. Ratzinger suggested that this implies that anyone who defends Christian orthodoxy is now effectively excluded from public life as a result of an aggressive ideological form of secular intolerance.”

Consideration of these, and other proofs of encroaching religious restriction in Europe has led the UK Evangelical Alliance, representing some 1.2 million British citizens, to the development a 170-page report outlining future strategy and direction.Â

The report is the product of three years’ work by a special commission of the Evangelical Alliance UK. The “Faith and Nation” report emphasizes religious liberty as crucial in response “to various secularizing forces which have already begun to challenge established Christian freedoms, and which are set to do so more forcefully in future.”

“Chief among these,” says the report, “is the introduction of new laws and policies driven by concepts of ‘equality’ and ‘rights’, which were once derived from the biblical doctrine of creation, but which now increasingly cast classical Christians as intolerant, exclusive and unfit for the civic sphere.”

The report rejects the notion of withdrawing from society as some Protestant groups have practiced.“Daunting though these and other challenges may be,” says the report, “withdrawal and disconnection from sociopolitical life are not a desirable option for evangelicals in the UK today.” The report suggests that past withdrawal of some Christians may have contributed to the problem of privatization of faith, which consists of “marginalisation of religion from civic institutions” and “restriction of religion to the private sphere.”

The report suggests that the rise of radical Islam has been the catalyst for significant restrictions on “basic human freedoms”. Moreover, the report suggests that the re-election of President George Bush with the support of the so-called Christian Right “has unleashed an at times almost hysterical response from secular left wing media and others making accusations of conspiracy theories and demanding enforced marginalisation of religious groups and their views from democratic political processes.”

Christian resistance is required, suggests the report, on several fronts where government encroaches on religious freedom such as secularism, pluralism, homosexuality, abortion and euthanasia.“Growing legislative pressure on the distinctive claims of the gospel in relation to other faiths, and on its sexual-ethical imperatives, may necessitate political action, which may include protest and resistance,” says the report.

It is in this area that the report contemplates “civil disobedience” and even “violent revolution”. The consideration is by no means flippant. It explains that “in a modern democratic state it is much more a question of various graduated responses, which may begin with a simple and entirely lawful withdrawal of co-operation with state authorities before progressing through various forms of resistance focussed on a particular area, to ultimately deliberate defiance and even perhaps revolution.”

Without rejecting outright the notion of “violent revolution”, the report stresses, “It is, however, ridiculous to contemplate revolution without having wrestled with other alternatives which may be less drastic in terms of their potential for confrontation but may bear much clearer witness to Christian values than revolution ever would.”

Providing an example of a case where confrontation is required, the report points to Christian social workers or marriage registrars who are forced to provide services to homosexual couples.“But many other forms of evil and injustice may properly prompt Christian resistance in a measured and focussed way,” says the report. “The Church needs to decide how to support Christian marriage registrars or Christian social workers who feel obliged to resign rather than comply with state requirements that compromise what they (and the wider Christian community) believe to be their Christian faith and what they regard as right or wrong for society as a whole.”

In this context the report notes pointedly, “It is disappointing that some church leaders not infrequently show more concern with protecting the position of ordained clergy than protecting the lay members of their flocks in such situations.”

Concluding the point, the report says, “Just as the early church decided that it would not worship Caesar, the church of the 21st century will need to decide when, how and in what circumstances it will resist unjust oppression or law . . . The church should try to come to a common mind that at some point there is not only the right but the duty to disobey the state.”

In coverage of the report, the British media has ignored the careful and measured rationale of the document and blasted it as akin to the proposals of radical Islam.“The Christians’ report echoes protests made by radical Muslims,” screams the Sunday Telegraph article on the Evangelical report. Jonathan Wynne-Jones the author of the Sunday Telegraph coverage adds menacingly, “While it has always been expected that the greatest threat to Britain’s security will come from Muslim extremists, the report will cause particular alarm to government ministers as it reveals disquiet among the country’s Christian population.”

A copy of the full report is available online here:


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