An Age When All Faiths Are Equal -- except Christianity

Article excerpt

Byline: by George Carey

CHRISTIANITY is a force that has profoundly shaped our civilisation. From literature to architecture, from music to education, the morality and aesthetics of the Christian faith are the very foundations of our nation's culture.

Crucially, Britain's legal system also has its roots in the ethics of Christianity. The concepts of honesty, personal responsibility, opposition to violence, concern for others and respect for their property -- which are all part of the fabric of our laws -- lie at the heart of the gospels.

Tragically, this rich and inspiring heritage is now under attack as never before. Our Christian identity is being ruthlessly marginalised. No longer regarded by officialdom as the bulwark of our society's moral code, it is increasingly treated as a minority fad or even a dangerous anachronism.

This trend has been driven by the ideologies of atheism, secularism and multiculturalism, which together have formed a battering ram against our traditional Christian culture.

Society's leaders are fond of talking about 'social inclusion', yet they now seem determined to exclude Christianity from the public realm.

This tendency was highlighted this week in a speech by Sir James Munby, the senior judge and President of the Family Division of the High Court, who spoke about Christianity's decline as an influence in the judicial system.

Drawing a contrast between modern Britain and the more devout Victorian age, Sir James declared that 'the days are past when the business of judges was the enforcement of morals or religious beliefs'.

Significantly, he said: 'We sit as secular judges serving a multi-cultural community of many faiths', with the result that he and his colleague 'happily' no longer had a role in enforcing morality.

On one level, Mr Justice Munby is absolutely right.

Equality before the law is one of the essential principles of British justice. Everyone, no matter what their beliefs, is entitled to equal respect in the courts.

But that does not mean that Christianity should be banished from public life altogether.

I am afraid that his rhetoric represents another disturbing assault on the role of the Christian faith in civic life. For all his judicial restraint, his words are part of a pattern whereby, in the name of tolerance and equality, Christianity is increasingly ostracised.

Everywhere there are examples. Only this month, the managers of a set of student halls at Huddersfield University banned the distribution of Bibles because, like the judge, they said they wanted to remain 'ethically neutral'.

SIMILARLY, town halls have increasingly abandoned the tradition of saying prayers before their meetings, while crucifixes and other aspects of Christianity have been outlawed in many workplaces.

In one particularly outrageous recent case, a highlyexperienced paediatrician was forced out of his position after he emailed his work colleagues a copy of the beautiful 16th century prayer of St Ignatius Loyola, which contains the famous lines, 'to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds'.

Understandably, the doctor thought St Ignatius's verses might serve as an inspiration at his clinic, but instead he found himself out of a job.

This case goes to the core of the problem. In our dogmatically secular world, the Christian faith has, ludicrously, come to be seen as a threat to equality, freedom and progress.

Indeed, that was the thrust of Sir James Munby's speech, particularly in his comment about the religiously-minded, supposedly reactionary Victorians.

But the truth is that there is no conflict between equality and Christianity. In fact, the opposite is true. The idea that all human beings are equal before God is central to the Christian faith. …