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It can only harm Christians to bleat about persecution -Times Online

It can only harm Christians to bleat about persecution -Times Online.

pril 13, 2010

It can only harm Christians to bleat about persecution

I am reluctant to wear a cross as I don’t want to be seen as a victim

In Britain Christians cry: “We are being persecuted.” But the lions don’t exist beyond their imaginations or the arena beyond their story books. Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and his fellow victims are giving all Christians a bad name. It is time for liberals to stand up and say: “We will not be slain by this malevolent spirit, not even when the persecutors are our fellow Christians.”

In Stalky & Co, Kipling says: “The bleating of the kid excites the tiger.” Persecutors can be moved to greater effort by the pathetic noises of their victims. In their persistent bleating about the non-existent persecution of Christians in Britain, Lord Carey & Co are merely exciting the secularists to further ridicule. I am now reluctant to wear a cross, not because I fear persecution but because I don’t want to be identified as a victim. And I don’t want to be identified as “one of them”, a fundamentalist hijacking good traditional Christian values to serve a right-wing political agenda.

Christianity has always been big on victimhood and victims have to find a persecutor. Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has been known to grumble about his treatment by we beasties of the media — but even he thinks that the craze for victimhood has gone too far. He used his Easter Day sermon to focus on the truly persecuted in countries such as Nigeria, not nurses complaining about being banned from wearing crucifixes.

It’s not just so-called discrimination in the workplace. Conservative evangelicals and Catholic s joined forces to promote Westminster 2010, a conscience manifesto launched on Easter Day to promote “Christian” values on poverty, abortion, marriage, euthanasia. Lord Carey was among the signatories. Most recently he urged senior judges to stand down from Court of Appeal hearings involving religious discrimination if their previous rulings were “hostile” to Christianity.

Many leading judges are religious; many are not. But they are all fiercely independent and impartial. They are trained to set aside any personal prejudice. To suggest that they are anti-Christian is not only insulting but fails to understand the oath they swear by Almighty God, to “do right by all manner of people, after the law and usages of this realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill will”.

Let’s hope the Church of England really is like a swimming pool where all the noise is at the shallow end. Increasing numbers don’t need the props of religion to keep them afloat and with leaders such as these representing my faith, I’m starting to wonder if it might not be time to ditch the armbands and head for the deeper, more interesting waters of doubt.

Ruth Gledhill is religion correspondent

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