Corbynmania: lessons for the Church of England?

Aug 27, 2015 by

by Andrew Symes, Church of England Newspaper.   The success of Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for the Labour Party leadership has taken most commentators by surprise. Corbyn, veteran MP for Islington, has become the focal point of a resurgence of interest in left wing politics. The story is not so much about Corbyn, who appears to be a self-effacing man not interested in creating a cult of personality, but in what he represents – aspiration to a new political and economic system, and a movement of social and worldview change, attracting lots of idealistic young people.   This is where the church should sit up and take notice. What is going on? Is there anything we can learn? Are there any parallels between contemporary Britain, a divided Labour Party and this bid by Corbyn’s supporters to shape the future of the nation on one hand,  and on the other, the Church of England, containing different points of view but a shared commitment to mission? Read here Corbynmania [pdf]...

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Extremism, another word for Christianity

Aug 14, 2015 by

By Alexander Boot: According to Huw Lewis, Welsh Education Minister, religious (meaning Christian) education threatens “community cohesion” and encourages “extremism”. Hence he proposes to muffle the destructive effect of Christianity by lumping it together in the same course with “philosophy, ethics and citizenship”, thereby instructing pupils on “what it means to be a citizen in a free country”. A minor, or perhaps not so minor, point is that British pupils, even if they happen to be Welsh, aren’tcitizens of any country, free or otherwise. They are subjects of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. This isn’t a difference in semantics. Rather it’s a clue to two diametrically opposite types of statehood and civilisation. In the modern Western context, ‘citizen’ is a republican, Enlightenment construct that came into being as a result of a concerted effort to break away from almost 2,000 years of Christendom. It’s not for nothing that the first secular government in history, that of the United States, almost immediately declared that religion would play no role in state affairs. The US Constitution coyly eschews the phrase ‘separation of church and state’. Instead the First Amendment states only that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” But in his comments both before and after the ratification Thomas Jefferson was unequivocal: this amendment, he gloated, built “a wall of separation between Church and State”. The modern state pioneered by America and later developed by France is a revolutionary contrivance, only intelligible against the background of burgeoning hostility to Christianity, along with all of its ecclesiastical and secular institutions. Monarchy is the fundamental political institution of Christendom because it unites in itself both the secular and transcendent aspects of national history. It’s thus an organic entity, as opposed to a revolutionary one. This was reflected in the oath Her Majesty took at her coronation 62 years ago, when this dialogue took place: Read here...

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Election analysis: C of E support for Conservative Party remains firm

Jul 31, 2015 by

From Church Times: MORE Anglicans voted for UKIP in the General Election than voted for the Liberal Democrats, the latest study of voting behaviour suggests. The British Election Study, in which 30,027 people were surveyed, was undertaken immediately after the General Election on 7 May. When the voting figures were analysed by religious affiliation, it was found that the image of the Church of England as the “Tory party at prayer” remained apt: 46 per cent of Anglican respondents voted Conservative; 13 per cent voted for UKIP; and eight per cent supported the Liberal Democrats. The historically observed trend among Roman Catholics to vote Labour also remained: 42 per cent voted for the party. Labour also registered very strong support among Muslims, among whom 72 per cent voted for the party. In contrast, 50 per cent of Jewish respondents voted Conservative. Voting for the Liberal Democrats was more likely among Methodists and Baptists. Read here...

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Tim Farron just doesn’t fit the media mould

Jul 20, 2015 by

From Theos: The media’s obsession with Tim Farron’s faith is revealing. I am not as worried as some that this is really a matter of Christians being driven out of political life – after all the Liberal Democrats just elected him. His faith is no secret, in fact he has been talking about it openly for years, yet was still elected as leader of his party (admittedly after most of the big hitters lost their seats in the debacle that was the Lib Dem election performance, but still, you can only beat what you’re up against). What is revealing is rather that the media just doesn’t get Farron’s position, he is breaking the mould of what British Christian politicians today are meant to look like. The difference between Farron, David Cameron and the possible future Labour leader Andy Burnham is instructive in this. Like Tim Farron, Burnham has come under fire during a contest for party leadership over the compatibility of his (in Burnham’s case Catholic) faith and his stance on moral issues but particularly LGBT rights. Burnham, like Farron, has in the past been very open about his faith. He declared in the past that ‘the three most important things in my life are Everton FC, the Labour Party and the Church – in that order.’ He’s a former altar boy and a proud member of Liverpool’s large Catholic community. However, when the New Statesman ran a piece calling into question his left wing credentials and his Catholic faith (and particularly his failure to support IVF for lesbian couples) Burnham’s response was to go to Pink News and effectively distance himself from the Church. Suddenly he was no longer Catholic champion in parliament but someone who rarely attends Mass and described himself as having “been repeatedly at odds with the Catholic church for all of my time as an MP. I have always been going against what they were saying, and that is challenging.” That may have come as news to Catholics, but it was a perfectly acceptable media answer because it conforms to a mould. Religion as a sort of soft tribal identity marker, so long as it isn’t remotely dogmatic or likely to actually influence someone’s decisions, is absolutely fine. Burnham adheres in a rather more working class Irish sort of way to the same sort of position David Cameron has marked for himself in his famous comment about his faith being like Magic FM reception in the Chilterns. Faith is something from people’s upbringing that creates a sort of unspecified moral underpinning. Read here...

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Christian elected party leader – media freaks out

Jul 19, 2015 by

by Nick Hallett, Breitbart: One news event that may have passed most people by last week was the election of Tim Farron as leader of the Liberal Democrats. The party, which was once Britain’s third largest, was decimated in May’s General Election, losing all but eight of its 57 seats, completing a brutal period of decline while it was in government alongside the Conservatives. It is against this backdrop that Farron has been tasked with leading his party back from the abyss and rebuilding its lost support. However, instead of focusing on his plans for future party policy and strategy, Britain’s left-wing media has been obsessing about the fact Farron is – shock horror – a practising Christian. The inquisition began the morning after Farron’s election when the BBC’s John Humphreys asked him if he would “seek advice from God when it came to making important policy decisions”. Farron accused Humphreys of focusing on “the shocking revelation that a Christian says his prayers,” but Humphreys continued to press Farron on the issue. Later that day, Farron appeared on Channel 4 News where presenter Cathy Newman spent 40 seconds asking him about UK military involvement in Syria before spending the next four minutes talking about his views on abortion and gay sex. Read and watch video here Read also:  Tim Farron’s Christian Faith becomes an object of media scorn by Gillan Scott, Cranmer Yes, we should be suspicious of Tim Farron’s Christian worldview by Isabel Hardman, Spectator Tim Farron has one thing in common with Obama. He is soft on drugs by Kathy Gyngell, The Conservative Woman  ...

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Hitchens Skewers ‘Conservative’ Minister for Claiming Homosexuality is a Fundamental British Value...

Jul 6, 2015 by

From Breitbart London: Journalist and author Peter Hitchens has taken Britain’s Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to task in his Mail on Sunday column this weekend, shortly after she claimed that homosexuality is a fundamental British value, and said that those who seemed “intolerant” may fall foul of anti-extremism laws. Speaking earlier this week, Ms. Morgan – who herself once voted against same sex marriage – said, “Sadly, Isis are extremely intolerant of homosexuality.” She was attempting to point out how to spot extremists in British schools. But Hitchens has responded to her claims, writing: How could teachers spot a potential fanatic, who was in danger of rejecting British values and might end up waving an AK-47? You could almost hear the poor woman’s brain flapping wildly from side to side. Then she reached for the one thing that absolutely everyone is now compelled to agree on, if they don’t want the thought police and everyone on Twitter to think they are an extremist. ‘Sadly, Isis are extremely intolerant of homosexuality,’ she gabbled. Alas, until quite recently, Ms Morgan took a position which could, in these days of sexual liberation, be viewed as ‘extremely intolerant’ of homosexuality. ‘Marriage, to me, is between a man and a woman,’ she said in February 2013, after voting against same-sex weddings. This view, she argued, tied in with her Christian faith. Read...

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