A tale of two Christians
Libertarian Alliance, January 2014
Let us compare and contrast the following quotations. Firstly, from 2007:
“The Rt Rev Graham Dow, Bishop of Carlisle, argued that the floods are not just a result of a lack of respect for the planet, but also a judgment on society’s moral decadence.
“This is a strong and definite judgment because the world has been arrogant in going its own way,” he said. “We are reaping the consequences of our moral degradation, as well as the environmental damage that we have caused.”
The bishop, who is a leading evangelical, said that people should heed the stories of the Bible, which described the downfall of the Roman empire as a result of its immorality.
“We are in serious moral trouble because every type of lifestyle is now regarded as legitimate,” he said.
“In the Bible, institutional power is referred to as ‘the beast’, which sets itself up to control people and their morals. Our government has been playing the role of God in saying that people are free to act as they want,” he said, adding that the introduction of recent pro-gay laws highlighted its determination to undermine marriage.
“The sexual orientation regulations [which give greater rights to gays] are part of a general scene of permissiveness. We are in a situation where we are liable for God’s judgment, which is intended to call us to repentance.”
He expressed his sympathy for those who have been hit by the weather, but said that the problem with “environmental judgment is that it is indiscriminate”.
This is the publicly expressed view of a (now retired) bishop of the Church of England, indeed of a “leading evangelical” and thus of a representative of a movement that now accounts for a very major part of our national church.
Our second quotation is much more recent, and comes from David Silvester, who left the Conservatives for UKIP in protest at same-sex unions becoming law. In a letter to his local paper, Mr Silvester is reported as saying,
“The scriptures make it abundantly clear that a Christian nation that abandons its faith and acts contrary to the Gospel (and in naked breach of a coronation oath) will be beset by natural disasters such as storms, disease, pestilence and war.”
He added: “I wrote to David Cameron in April 2012 to warn him that disasters would accompany the passage of his same-sex marriage bill.
“But he went ahead despite a 600,000-signature petition by concerned Christians and more than half of his own parliamentary party saying that he should not do so.
“It is his fault that large swathes of the nation have been afflicted by storms and floods.”
He went on to say that no man, however powerful “can mess with Almighty God with impunity and get away with it”.
It would be difficult, I think, to get a cigarette paper between these two views. Yet their expression has had serious consequences for Mr Silvester, who has just been suspended as a UKIP councillor for giving a media interview about his religious views contrary to the instructions of the party hierarchy, who would clearly have preferred that he had kept quiet about them.
Interestingly, the Rev. Colin Coward, who we are told represents Anglican group Changing Attitude, said: “I don’t know where David worships, but clearly it’s in a sect, a church which is not mainstream in its Christian practice and teaching.” One wonders whether Mr Coward has encountered Anglican evangelicals previously, or indeed the Baptist Church, to which Mr Silvester belongs and which has a long history of representation in our country. If he has not, then he is in for something of a surprise.
For these views that have been quoted are supported by the overwhelming majority of those who have called themselves Christians throughout history. It is not the view that homosexuality is wrong, or that environmental disaster may be God’s judgement upon man, that is not “mainstream”. It is the contrary view; a view that is all too recently formulated and that has relied for its proselytisation not upon the pulpit but upon aggressive lobbying and the dead hand of legislation.
Clearly the Left depends for its dominance upon rewriting history; their view must be seen as mainstream, other views must be discredited, and so on and so forth in the best traditions of Gramsci and the other architects of political correctness. But the real story here is how far UKIP has fallen in terms of loyalty to those that it once needed and which it can now jettison as it gains a broader base of support.
At one point, UKIP was being heralded as a home for traditional conservatives (not a few of whom hold to an evangelical interpretation of the Christian faith) and as a party of libertarian values, central of which, surely, must be a commitment to free speech and the free expression of religious (or indeed non-religious) views. In its bid to become “mainstream”, as previously discussed here, it has increasingly come to see its core supporters as an embarrassment; libertarianism is played down and traditional conservatism is muted at best. As UKIP woos Labour voters and as its leading lights scent the whiff of real power, the compromises have started to tell.
Now we are told that if you have “extremist, barmy or nasty” views, according to the article, UKIP’s new vetting system for candidates will weed you out and consign you to the rubbish-heap. It remains to be seen where that will leave the evangelical Christians among its ranks.