The State, freedom of conscience and civil disobedience

Jul 6, 2020 by

by Gavin Ashenden:

The state and the Church have a history in our country. The relationship status might read “it’s complicated”.  It ranges from the conversion and Christianization of the state to the deepest antipathy of the State and its persecution of the Church.

Even when Christian, the Church has had to challenge the state. Becket took on Henry 2nd and won. It cost him his life, but he won.

Thomas More took on Henry 8th. It cost him his life. While he won the moral argument he lost the legal and political one.

The narrative in this country is of course set in the far wider and more complex contest for a system of values fought in in a variety of states with a variety of aspects of the Church.

Glancing from the dynamics of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar, through the Maccabees up to Bonhoeffer and Hitler, Solzhenitsyn and Stalin, the contest for setting the values by which human beings live, across states and cultures, defines one of the most powerful narratives in human history.

The pendulum swings from benign to malign.

In our day we are moving with some speed towards the malign. Any reading of 20C history demonstrates a three-cornered fight between two totalitarian ambitions, Marxism and Fascism, and Christianity. All three make absolutist claims on humanity that are irreconcilable. The anaemic relativism of our decaying culture in the West disguises the sharp and brutal quality of the contest.

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