Friday, 1 November 2013

Where are the Soldiers of the Cross?

There’s been quite a ‘stooshie’ in the newspapers in reaction to a speech by Sir James Munby, Head of the Family Division of the High Court of Justice in England and Wales. Sir James used his speech to highlight Christianity’s decline as an influence in the judicial system.

Contrasting 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’. He further asserted that the law of the UK is secular, and that Christianity no longer informs its morality or values. For Sir James, only secularism can deliver justice that is neutral.

In a stinging riposte to Sir James Munby’s speech in today’s Daily Mail, George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury writes: “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 multi-culturalism, 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.........

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.”

The following are some examples of this assault on the role of the Christian faith in civic life:

Ø  The continuing high profile political and media campaign by secularists in Scotland to have Religious Observance removed from Scottish schools.

Ø  The recent banning of Gideon Bibles by managers of student halls of residence at Huddersfield University. The managers said they wanted the halls of residence to remain ‘ethically neutral’.

Ø  In England, local councils are abandoning the tradition of prayers before their meetings, while crucifixes and other aspects of Christianity have been outlawed in many workplaces. 

Ø  In a recent case, a highly-experienced paediatrician was forced out of his position for emailing work colleagues a copy of the 16th century prayer of St Ignatius Loyola. The prayer contains the famous lines, ‘to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds’.

In the face of this assault on faith and freedom, Christians have two choices. Do nothing and allow faith in Christ outside of personal devotion in the confines of the home to become illegal.... OR......Understand what is happening in society, get down to serious organised prayer, and be prepared to take radical action to put the Christian faith back at the heart of the nation.

My favourite hymn from childhood is ‘Stand up for Jesus’. The first verse reads:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross,

Lift high his royal banner, it must not suffer loss,

From victory unto victory his army shall he lead,

Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

Where are today’s soldiers of the cross who are prepared to take a public stand for Christ through radical action ?

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