Category Archives: Atheism

Islam And The West: Irreconcilable Differences

My post here was first published by Kipper Central:

“If you compare Jesus Christ who had so much influence on the Western world, and Muhammad who has had so much influence on the Islamic world, and look at their teachings and their lives and lifestyles and so on, it’s game, set and match to Jesus.”

The audience at the celebrated Conway Hall, high temple of humanism and self-styled ‘landmark of London’s independent intellectual, political and cultural life’, erupted with clapping and cheers.

I was participating in a recent public debate entitled ‘This House believes Islam and the West have irreconcilable differences’ and, given the irreligious nature of the audience, the warm response to my comment about Christ was unexpected.

Alongside me as proposer of the motion was Anne Marie Waters, founder of ShariaWatch UK, former Council member of the National Secular Society, and lately a high-profile controversial candidate for the leadership of UKIP.

The opposition were Sheikh Dr Muhammad Al Husseini, Senior Fellow in Islamic Studies at the Westminster Institute; and Dr Michael Arnheim, practising Barrister, author of books on religion, law and government, and former Professor of Classics and Sometime Fellow of St John’s College, Cambridge.

So the academic qualifications were clearly on the side of the opposition; but the audience and the weight of the argument were on ours. The full debate can be viewed here.

I have real differences with Anne Marie over how to respond to the rise of aggressive Islam but on the night she and I made a good team. She tackled Islam as a social and political force and critiqued it from a human rights, women’s rights and freedom of speech point of view, whereas I tackled it head-on as a religion.

I did so by comparing Islam with Christianity as the origin and cradle of our western civilisation.

I was free to undertake this exercise because, while the second half of the 20th century saw an increasingly aggressive secularisation of society and a growing hostility to Christianity, 9/11 changed the world. Since then we have found ourselves reaching for our religious identity both as an acknowledgement of our roots and as our distinctive against rising Islam.

Professional unbeliever Richard Dawkins today happily calls himself a Christian atheist or cultural Christian. Similarly political commentator and fellow atheist Douglas Murray told a Canadian interviewer recently that we are all Christians whether we like it or not, that rational secular atheists all “dream Christian dreams and have Christian thoughts” and that our universal human rights are derived directly from Christianity.

My argument in the debate was straightforward: Islam and the West have irreconcilable differences because Islam and Christianity have irreconcilable differences.

Theologically, Islam flatly refutes the historical crucifixion of Christ which is at the heart of the Christian faith. And if, as Islam says, Christ was not crucified, then there is no true Christianity – which of course is Islam’s contention. The cross on our war memorials and in our graveyards, on our village church steeples and atop the Queen’s coronation crown – these all represent a fake event according to Islam, and consequently are a huge deception at the core of the UK’s heritage and culture.

From a political and social perspective too, the contrasting lives and teachings of the founders of the two religions are profound and irreconcilable.

Muhammad – the perfect role model for all mankind according to Islamic orthodoxy – was a religious leader, governor, lawmaker and military chief who slaughtered enemies of Islam as well as personal opponents, and who installed a state theocracy at Medina as a prototype for his followers. Even today Muhammad’s swords are proudly on display in the Topkapi museum, Istanbul.

Jesus, on the other hand, was interested in hearts and minds not physical territory, and in the power of persuasion not political power and military might.

From a rule-bound legalistic Judaism he inaugurated a new grace-fuelled spiritual religion (“the Kingdom of God is within you”), separated church and state (“render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s”), taught that love is a prime ethic (“love your enemies”), and refused to allow his followers to use force to defend him or promote his new faith (“put away your sword for those who live by the sword will die by the sword”). The only violence during his ministry was that done to him not by him.

Consequently, I argued, Muhammad and his teachings in the Quran are irreconcilable with Jesus and his teachings in the New Testament.  And the values and cultures of Islamic societies based on the former are incompatible with western societies based on the latter.

Anne Marie is not religious so she, of course, took a different approach in the debate. For her the West is characterised by freedom: freedom of speech, expression and religion; equal rights before the law; and science and reason. The blasphemy laws with death penalties in Islam and the subjugation of women into second class status are, for her, ample illustrations of why the West and Islam are incompatible.

She is a persuasive speaker and she argued her case powerfully. I admired her cool too, as she knew that, late on the same evening after the debate finished, ITV were to broadcast a biased and brutal character assassination job on her led by the lefty hatchet men from Hope not Hate, Nick Lowles and Matthew Collins.

It was entitled Undercover: Inside Britain’s New Far Right, and Lowles and Collins were paraded across the programme as neutral “experts”, and in the credits as “consultants”.

The analysis was incoherent and low-level which may explain why ITV scheduled it for a late time-slot. And, despite an undercover reporter following Anne Marie for months, there were no condemning new revelations.

In the end the programme could only resort to smearing her, and did so by including her in the same broadcast as an investigation into real militant extremists, the banned anti-Semitic Hitler-praising occasionally violent Nazi group, National Action.

It was damnation by slur, defamation by association.

Hope not Hatefunded by billionaire global financial market-manipulator George Soros – tries to silence anyone who refuses to dance to its regressive lefty political agenda. For years it has directed its bile against patriotic, anti-establishment, anti-EU, anti-globalist, pro-localism UKIP – including during this year’s general election.

And Lowles and Collins have regularly pilloried Nigel Farage personally too. Based on his experience with them, Farage reckons Hope not Hate “are among the most hateful people in modern Britain”.

Now vilified by them as well, Anne Marie is in good company.

Another UKIP Christian Manifesto?

I published this piece on the UKIP Daily website recently. It resulted in some interesting online comment and discussion:

Nigel Farage caused a storm a couple of years ago when, against the prevailing political zeitgeist as always, he called for Britain to accept only Christian refugees from Syria. “They are a seriously persecuted minority… under attack on all sides… as Islamist elements seek to purge the (Middle East) of Christianity”, he argued.

Then, after Muslim migrants from north Africa threw Christian fellow migrants out of their boat to drown in the Mediterranean, he proposed that Europe should accept only Christian African  refugees “as they have almost nowhere else to go”.
So it was welcome when UKIP deputy leader Peter Whittle recently weighed in too. “There needs to be a prioritisation of Christian refugees from Syria,” he contended ten days ago. He was echoing the concern of renegade former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, that the UK government is “institutionally biased” against Christian refugees and “politically-correct” officials are discriminating against Christian Syrians in the UK’s refugee programme.

The political class is at best embarrassed by Christianity as the nation’s traditional religion, and at worst actively hostile. It prefers to support the religions brought into Britain post-war by immigrant communities, especially from South Asia. Remember Boris Johnson fatuously proposing that we should all fast for a day during Ramadan and then break our fast at the local mosque? I don’t recall him ever asking us all to pray during Lent and visit the local church on Sunday.

And when the then director-general of the BBC was accused by Ben Elton of letting Vicar jokes pass but not Imam jokes, Mark Thompson admitted that the public service broadcaster – flagship of Britain’s global soft-power with a world-wide audience, but also at the heart of British culture and paid for by you and me – does give special treatment to Islam but not Christianity “because Muslims are from a religious minority and… often from ethnic minorities”. It was classic liberal twaddle that patronisingly plays the victim card on behalf of the world’s second largest and most aggressive religion, and flagrantly repudiates the Beeb’s own claims to neutrality and impartiality.

UKIP is never afraid to stand alone or challenge conventional wisdom, so it is both bold and typical of the party that it insists on standing up for the nation’s traditional religion against the prejudiced political establishment. Neither is it surprising that UKIP broke new ground at the May 2015 general election and was the first and only national party to publish a separate Christian manifesto.

Nigel Farage contended in his foreword to the manifesto – it was entitled Valuing Our Christian Heritage – that “we need a much more muscular defence of our Christian heritage and our Christian Constitution. Ours is fundamentally a Christian nation… UKIP is the only political party… that still cherishes our Judeo-Christian heritage.”

The manifesto contained common-sense stuff. It recognised that children are best brought up “within safe, secure, happy families”; said that “reasonable accommodation” should be made legally for those in the workplace who cannot accept same-sex marriage; and backed faith schools “provided they are open to the whole community, uphold British values, do not discriminate against any section of society and meet required educational standards”.

UKIP is a secular party and, as far as I know, neither Nigel Farage nor Peter Whittle are regular church-goers let alone committed Christians. But they, and UKIP’s 2015 Christian manifesto, acknowledge that Christianity has a particular place in the culture of our society that Islam and other religions do not have. And, as I have argued elsewhere, UKIP is and should be a defender of the Faith.

In the name of multi-cultural tolerance and good inter-faith relations, liberal Scottish clergy at Glasgow Cathedral recently invited a Muslim student to read verses from the Quran during a service marking Christianity’s Feast of the Epiphany. As a good Muslim and in honour of Allah no doubt, he read the key Quranic verses which specifically deny Christianity’s central tenet – that Jesus is the Son of God.

When a courageous Church of England clergyman, the Revd Gavin Ashenden, objected strongly to this denigration of Jesus within Christian worship, atheist commentator Douglas Murray memorably commenced an article proposing an award for the cleric thus:

“Very occasionally — even in contemporary Britain — some good news arrives. No single       piece of news has been more invigorating than the discovery that a member of the clergy of the Church of England has found a vertebra.”

In the event Reverend Ashenden was forced to step down from his post as Chaplain to the Queen for being controversial, so Murray finished his article with an equally memorable conclusion:

“For the time-being, Revd Ashenden is on the retreating side. But in the long run he may not be. In a nation much in need of heroes, an Anglican Reverend has stepped forward, putting his sincere and serious beliefs ahead of the unserious and insincere pieties of our time. Everybody — secular or religious — has cause to feel enormous gratitude.”

UKIP members – secular or religious – should be willing to support Britain’s traditional religion. After all, Winston Churchill was a disbeliever who reckoned himself a buttress of the church rather than a pillar, as “I support it from the outside”.

UKIP ought to continue its pioneering work and publish the party’s second Christian manifesto in time for the June general election.

UKIP – Defender Of The Faith

UKIP has a track record of saying the unsayable and promoting inconvenient truth against the mainstream consensus. mikeBrexit, control of immigration and opposition to gay marriage are just three issues where the party has, famously, refused to kowtow to the liberal establishment.

There is another issue too: the public role of the UK’s traditional religion.

Until recently Tory MP Andrea Leadsom had been a less than high-profile politician. But she’d frequently gone public about her Christianity and her religious reservations about – but personal support for – same-sex marriage.

These, together with some naïve comments about motherhood, brought a storm around her head from party colleagues and media alike during her brief bid for the Conservative Party leadership earlier this month.

andrea-leadsomConservativeHome editor Paul Goodman described the ferocious attacks on her as ‘prejudice’, ‘feral’ and ‘bullying’, while commentator Iain Dale called the media assaults ‘astonishing’.

Faced with this onslaught the MP withdrew from the contest. Journalist Allison Pearson interviewed her afterwards and concluded that “Leadsom was genuinely shocked by the poisonous attacks from within her own party. She said it was highly unlikely that the daily stories saying how useless/dishonest/Christian she was ‘are coincidental’.”

Anti-religious prejudice in the UK is reserved only for traditionalist Christians like Leadsom it seems. In her article Pearson drew attention to the fact that no-one calls London’s Muslim Mayor Sadiq Khan a ‘religious nutter’.

And when celebrity atheist Richard Dawkins claimed that then New Statesman editor Mehdi Hasan was disqualified for the job because of his Islamic beliefs, the media leapt en masse to the Muslim’s defence and it was Dawkins who came under sustained media fire.

for everyoneBy the end of the 19th century, laws requiring holders of public office to assent to particular religious beliefs had been repealed. Jews, Catholics, Puritans, Atheists – they were all free to participate in public life. It was a long time coming, but freedom of religion had come of age.

But step-by-step today’s secular Britain is turning back to public prejudice. As Andrea Leadsom found out, there is a new intolerance in the air.

Hotel owners, registrarsmagistrates, doctors and counsellors have lost their livelihoods because of their Christian beliefs.

anti-christian_hateAnd a wider targetted hostility can be observed, for instance, via the stand-up comedians in the popular TV series Live at the Apollo. Mock Christians or Christianity and the audience falls about laughing. This is no problem in a society that values satire and freedom of speech of course. Except that it does not, it seems, translate across onto Islam or atheism.

So who will step into the breach and stand against this rising tide of prejudice against the nation’s traditional religion?

Yup, once again: only UKIP.

In last year’s general election, ours was the sole party to publish a manifesto specifically for the faithful. In the document Policies for Christians, Nigel Farage wrote “UKIP is the only major political party left in Britain that still cherishes our Judeo-Christian heritage” and “we need a much more muscular defence of our Christian heritage and our Christian constitution”.

He had made similar comments previously to Fox News in New York and at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

UKIP’s deputy leader Paul Nuttall was reported as saying too that “UKIP is the only party that will confidently protect the rights of Christians in the UK and speak out against the attack on our Christian heritage.”

The party was as good as its word. In the 2015 manifesto UKIP promised to “extend the legal concept of ‘reasonable accommodation’ to give protection in law to those expressing a religious conscience in the workplace“- in this case over same-sex marriage.

QuakersSince 1757 our society has been broad-minded enough to allow Quakers and other pacifists to refuse military service even in times of national peril, and freedom of conscience has developed into a fundamental feature of western democracy.

Yet the establishment’s growing liberal authoritarianism has meant that UKIP’s pledge on this issue is unique amongst the main political parties.

UKIP also has been the only party to speak up for Christian refugees from the Islamic Middle East and North Africa.

In Syria Christians are a vulnerable minority who frequently suffer the double whammy of having to flee first from Islamist violence in their home towns and villages, and subsequently from the hostility of militant Muslim migrants inside the refugee camps. In 2013 Nigel Farage faced down a storm of politically-correct censure when he called for the UK government to take in only Christian Syrian refugees.

MigrantBoatAerialEighteen months later, after African Muslims threw Christian fellow migrants out of the boat while crossing the Mediterranean, the UKIP leader repeated his call for Christians only, this time from north Africa, to be offered refuge in Europe.

Farage and Nuttall have both resigned from party leadership and currently UKIP is looking for a new leader. Nominations close today, and hustings and voting will take place during August. The successful candidate will be announced at the party conference on 16th September.

Will he or she be sympathetic towards Christian values and defend the nation’s traditional religion? To find out, some CAUKIP (Christian Action in UKIP) colleagues and I have formulated an online questionnaire which we will be submitting to each declared candidate.

You can view it here.

We plan to publish the responses of the candidates on the CAUKIP website. If you’re interested, watch this space too.

Learning From The Pit Of Hell

They told me it would be grim. In the event I was left numb, silenced by incomprehension and the inadequacy of words.

Early this month we had enjoyed an uplifting week in conference at the huge Hotel Golebiewski in the ski resort of Wisla, southern Poland, near the Czech border. Overlooking the Vistula River close to its source and with spectacular views across the tree-covered hills and valleys of the Silesian Beskids mountain range, the hotel offered 5-star luxury and an extraordinary range of facilities.

There 700 Christian leaders from across Eastern and Western Europe ate, slept, saunaed and swam, worshipped, prayed, fellowshipped and wrestled with issues such as church planting, understanding Roman Catholicism, the sexual revolution, apologetics and a Christian response to the ISIS crisis. It was inspirational.

KrakowOn the way to the conference, too, we had experienced a heavenly sunny afternoon in the historic city of Krakow, lazily consuming ice cream under huge parasols in the Old Town’s medieval and spacious Market Square. We sat in front of the 14th century St Mary’s Basilica facing the 16th century Cloth Hall and in view of the 10th century Church of St Adalbert, watching the elegant open horse-drawn carriages circle the Square. It was magical.

On the way back from the conference, though, we descended into hell.

At the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp 65 km from Krakow, over a million people, mainly European Jews, were gassed, shot, hanged, starved or burned to death by the Nazis during WWII. Accompanied by a fierce, perhaps emotionally-seared guide, we walked under the notorious “Arbeit macht frei” sign at the gates, stood where the camp orchestra played to accompany prisoners marching to and from work, stopped in the gas chamber in Crematorium 1 and viewed the reconstructed Death Wall where many prisoners were executed.

She took us too into the notorious Block 11, death block, with its unspeakable “standing cells” in the basement where the Catholic priest Maximillian Kolbe was starved and poisoned to martyrdom. We saw horrible mountains of children’s and adults’ shoes, human hair, spectacles and used Zyklon B gas cylinders and, at Birkenau, fragments of human bones from cremated victims still in the ground. AuschwitzDollI examined a broken doll in a glass case and, as the father of young daughters, I wondered about the little girl to whom this had belonged and feared for the anguish and pain she will have suffered.

I left the camp aware that I had read somewhere that many of the German officers, guards and staff attended church especially at Christian festivals such as Easter. How on earth could they – and we – reconcile the Christian belief in a Lord of love with such depravity and evil?

The answer is, of course, we can’t. But since returning home I’ve studied Edwin Lutzer’s analysis of the German church under the Nazis, Hitler’s Cross . Previously I had devoured Eric Metaxas’ superb biography  Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, the story of the anti-Nazi churchman Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The rapid Nazification of the Protestant church in Germay had complex antecedents. These include the weakening of belief as a result of 19th century German biblical criticism, and the post-WWI poverty and despair of the German people as a result of military defeat and the imposition of massive financial reparation by the victorious Allies. Whatever the reasons, by 1930 an open-door opportunity for a national saviour had arisen.

AdolfHitlerWhen one came along the enfeebled church compromised on the Gospel and lost sight of her true Saviour who said he himself is the real Truth. Churchmen had no theological rock on which to stand out from the crowd and were easily swept along by Hitler’s oratory and untruth accompanied by Goebbels’ propaganda and Gestapo intimidation. Although the Nazi regime planned to destroy Christianity and replace it with a new paganism, gullible pastors and church leaders arrived at a 1933 General Synod in Berlin wearing Nazi uniforms and giving the Nazi salute.

Later, many congregations submitted to the prevailing zeitgeist and substituted the swastika of the Nazis for the cross of Christ and Hitler’s Mein Kampf for the Bible. This was the anti-Semitic church-going ‘Christianity’ of Auschwitz officers and guards.

But God always has His faithful remnant, and thousands of ordinary Christians resisted the regime and heroically rescued Jews from their fate. Albert Einstein, exiled from Germany because he was a Jew, wrote  that, unlike the academics in universities and editors of national newspapers who were silenced in a few short weeks, “only the church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth… The church alone had the moral courage and persistence to stand for intellectual and moral freedom”.

Dietrich BonhoefferAt great personal cost Dietrich Bonhoeffer and other members of the anti-Nazi ‘Confessing Church’ clung to Christian truth. Bonhoeffer argued in his Cost of Discipleship that the cross of Christ is above the world and that Christianity and National Socialism cannot be united. He plotted against Hitler and was executed on Hitler’s orders just three weeks before the end of the war.

Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller, now famous for his poem “First they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist… then they came for me”, spent eight years in a concentration camp for his vehement opposition to Nazi control of the church, and only narrowly escaped execution.

David Cameron’s Britain is not Hitler’s Germany of course, but there are some disturbing parallels:

9911715-Elderly-Senior-Woman-Using-Walking-Frame-Stock-Photo-seniors-disabled-walkingThe UK too is rapidly saying goodbye to its Judeo-Christian roots and turning to a new secular paganism that aims to restrain, control and extinguish the church, promotes the wholesale slaughter of unborn children, and is on the way to approving euthanasia for the ill, the elderly, the frail and the medically hopeless.

The most media-friendly, youth-friendly and influential Baptist Church leader actively seeks State endorsement for his work while trashing Christian belief, dismissing the central Christian understanding of Christ’s self-sacrifice on the cross as  “cosmic child-abuse” – a profane misnomer akin to Richard Dawkins’ famously blasphemous depiction of God.

Anti-Semitism is rising rapidly and anti-Semitic attacks are at record levels.

And the Government plans to impose ‘British values’, introduce control orders, ban extreme speech and censor talks and sermons.

The Auschwitz visit gave me much to think about.

Council Prayers: NSS’s Own Goal

“Benedic, Domine, dona Tua in usum nostrum, et nos in servitium Tuum, per Iesum Christu, Dominum nostrum. Amen.”

I was back at the Oxford Union last week in the snow, this time to oppose the motion ‘This House believes that the dividing line between religion and politics should shine brightly’. We were at the formal black-tie pre-debate dinner and the Union President, a friendly and confident young woman called Lauren, had called us all to stand while she prayed the traditional Latin grace. (Translated, it read “Bless, O Lord, us with Your gifts and us in Your service, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”)

I struggled to offer our invocation to the Almighty as I was smiling inwardly at the irony. Attending the dinner and subsequently proposing the motion in the debate were Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, Lord Warner of Brockley, chair of the Parliamentary Humanist Group, and Dr Peter Cave, chair of Humanist Philosophers of Great Britain – all colleagues and, apparently, each an avowed non-praying atheist.

For me the irony was double and delicious as I knew that the London-based National Secular Society was in the process of hauling little Bideford Town Council (16 councillors for a population of 14,000 in sleepy north Devon) through the courts over their insistence that the council holds prayers at the beginning of their municipal meetings. Properly elected Bideford councillors had democratically voted twice to keep council prayers, but that wasn’t enough for the militant secularists at NSS, represented at the dinner and in the debate of course by the amiable and courteous Keith Porteous Wood. What, I wondered, is going through his mind as the President called us publicly to pray – an overtly religious act in that formative hot-house for thrusting young politicians and future prime ministers (here). Obviously no brightly shining dividing line there.

Next day as I returned to London the news came out that NSS had won their case in the High Court. However, although their argument rested on three points – that the prayers were discriminatory against atheist councillors, that the prayers were a breach of human rights laws, and that the council had no lawful authority to hold prayers as part of its formal meetings – it was notable that Mr Justice Ouseley rejected the first two claims about discrimination and human rights and only upheld the third more minor legal/technical one.

Before the High Court ruling the Guardian’s assistant editor Michael White had argued that local communities “should surely be allowed to sort out their own arrangements without the help of the NSS complaining that… human rights have been infringed” (here).

And Equalities & Human Rights chief Trevor Phillips said that he “dropped his coffee” when he heard Keith Porteous Wood saying on the radio that he wanted to use the Human Rights Act to prosecute councillors in Devon. Phillips reckoned the move was “nonsense on stilts” (here).

And in the event, while NSS celebrated their win on the minor technical point, they lost the major human rights and discrimination cases (which, apparently, they cannot appeal as they won the other) and have been exposed as proponents of a hard-faced small-minded illiberal secular fundamentalism that acts against free choice and local democracy. And on the way they’ve stirred up furious controversy and helpful public debate.

Thus they’ve lost the plot, scored an own goal and Communities & Local Government minister Eric Pickles has promised to rub their noses in it by using new localism powers to make council prayers legal again.

Explaining why, he said yesterday: “The High Court judgment has far wider significance than just the municipal agenda of Bideford Town Council.

“By effectively reversing that illiberal ruling, we are striking a blow for localism over central interference, for freedom to worship over intolerant secularism, for Parliamentary sovereignty over judicial activism, and for long-standing British liberties over modern-day political correctness.

“Last week’s case should be seen as a wake-up call. For too long, the public sector has been used to marginalise and attack faith in public life, undermining the very foundations of the British nation. But this week, the tables have been turned” (here).

Exactly right Eric. We owe you a curry (here). And to cap it all diminutive Bideford Town Council voted two days ago to appeal the High Court ruling (here).

Thankfully the issue has legs and won’t go away quietly. Someone, it seems, has been praying…

Against The Gaystapo

If you followed November’s synthetic furore over my October Church of England Newspaper article (here) about the bully-boy tactics of the UK’s gay leadership – I borrowed gay journalist Johann Hari’s apt term ‘Gaystapo’ to describe them – you may be interested in a recent statement by the newspaper’s Chair of Trustees:

“In October 2011, the Church of England Newspaper published an article by Alan Craig entitled “Confronting the Gaystapo”. The article was clearly identified as a personal opinion by a named individual. Its theme was that the gay rights lobby uses aggressive methods to advance its cause and should be confronted.

“The newspaper is a forum for informed debate on matters of Christian interest, of which gay rights is one. There is no topic that we regard as “too hot” for us to debate. In the following edition, the newspaper published responses taking a different view. The overall editorial policy of the newspaper is determined by a board of trustees of which I am the chairman.

“With the benefit of hindsight, it would have been better had Alan Craig’s article been written more gently and if he had avoided references to Nazism. However, even with that caveat, both his article and the subsequent responses are within the scope of the editorial policy of this newspaper.

“Certain members and supporters of the gay lobby responded vigorously, and even reported the newspaper to the police who have taken no action. By doing so, they have added credence to the main thesis of Alan Craig’s article.

“In the course of dealing with this organised agitation, a statement was made by the newspaper to one reader that appears to have gained some currency.

“Again with hindsight, we can see that this statement could be read as questioning Alan Craig’s status as a Christian, and suggesting that the newspaper supports gay marriage. It was not the intention of the editor to convey any such impression. For the avoidance of doubt, the trustees affirm that the newspaper does not support gay marriage. We regard Alan Craig, and those in the church who agree or disagree with his views, as brother Christians.

“We further acknowledge that Christians do disagree on many issues. These are best addressed by temperate debate.”

Three things arise from the statement:

First, it’s now clear that the newspaper does not support gay marriage. My article drew attention to how churches across the spectrum are united against David Cameron’s shocking showboating proposal at the Tory Party conference, and it’s good that CEN has reaffirmed it follows the mainstream Christian line even under heavy pressure from gay activists.

Second, predictably, there was no police action over the article and threats of legal action proved hollow. That is because there was no hate speech in my piece. It was rational, reasonable and evidence-based, and drew an important distinction between the ordinary gay-in-the-street and the ambitious vindictive gay lobby leadership who are fair game for criticism.

Third, the statement draws attention to the vigorous response and “organised agitation” of the gay lobby which has “added credence to the main thesis of Alan Craig’s article”.

That’s the key point. Ben Summerskill’s reaction in the Guardian (here) to my article beautifully illustrated the ugly but sophisticated bully-boy tactics of Stonewall and other gay activist organisations. “We are sure that many of the paper’s advertisers, such as the University of Sheffield, will be deeply disturbed to read this crass and homophobic article,” he opined ominously to religious affairs correspondent Riazat Butt who dutifully published his words.

In other words, more bluntly, he said “Jump”.

“How high?” asked Sheffield’s academic authorities meekly as the next day they cancelled their CEN advertising (here). Thereby they raised severe doubts about freedom of speech at “one of the UK’s leading universities” (here) and demonstrated themselves unwilling to defend our democratic liberties.

So Ben Summerskill walked willingly into the controversy surrounding my article and unerringly validated my point about the illiberal and intimidatory nature of much of today’s gay activism. The Gaystapo are militant, politically powerful and sweeping all before them.

The rise of gay neo-fascism needs urgently to be confronted.

Confronting The Gaystapo

Having forcibly – and understandably – rectified the Versailles-type injustices and humiliations foisted on the homosexual community, the UK’s victorious Gaystapo are now on a roll. Their gay-rights storm troopers take no prisoners as they annex our wider culture, and hotel owners (here) and (here), registrars (here), magistrates (here), doctors (here), counsellors (here) and (here), foster parents (here), grandparents (here), adoption agencies (here) and traditional street preachers (here) and (here) find themselves crushed under the pink jack-boot.

Thanks especially to the green light from a permissive New Labour government, the gay Wehrmacht is on its long march through the institutions and has already occupied the Sudetenland social uplands of the Home Office (here), the educational establishment (here), the politically-correct police (here), and the Guardianista management of the BBC (here). Following a plethora of equalities legislation, homosexuals are now protected and privileged by sexual orientation regulations and have achieved legal equality by way of civil partnerships.

But it’s only 1938 and Nazi expansionist ambitions are far from sated. Flattered by appeasers and feted by the political class, the Oberkommandos from Stonewall and OutRage! have expansive goals for cultural hegemony and have long wanted to march on the next territory. They want to hijack a word and capture our culture at its deepest level. They want to reconfigure relationships, eliminate the traditional family and hence eradicate stable upbringing for our children. They want SSM – same-sex “marriage”.

And, unbelievably, the Conservative prime minister, betraying many centuries of Christian marriage in his green and pleasant land and naively revelling in his Munich moment, makes virtue out of vice, holds a piece of paper aloft and declares triumphantly to the Tory party conference, “It’s Gay Marriage in our time”.

Someone once said, “There is a time for silence and a time to speak… a time for peace and a time for war”, and SSM could be the invasion of Poland, the catalyst for war and a cultural fight-back. Catholic bishops are incendiary, evangelicals are appalled and even the dear old Church of England seems to think SSM is a step too far – “The Church’s view remains of marriage as the life-long union between a man and a woman,” said an Anglican spokesperson (here).

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. For years Winston Churchill was a lone voice against the burgeoning darkness of Nazi ideology and intolerance. In the wilderness and with few public friends, he was marginalised and dismissed as belligerent and a war-monger. He was scorned as a political has-been, out of touch with the then-modern mainstream.

But he saw clearly the hidden hegemonic ambitions of the Nazis and their intended assault on our civilization, our values, our way of life. To the fury of the Nazi leadership in Berlin he exposed the sinister truth, gave a trumpet-call for resistance and rearmament, and in due course galvanised the nation for an epochal battle against the fascist menace.

Our civilisation, our values, our way of life – indeed the national character – are inevitably formed from the values of the Christian faith, as over a thousand years and more ‘Christianity’ and ‘Englishness’ have become fully entwined and fused. So erase Christianity and you erode Englishness and the nation loses its identity and self-confidence. In recent decades gay militants have been in the van of the secularist and new atheist assault on Christianity, and as a consequence our culture has corroded and debased and national confusion and self-doubt has grown.

Christian believers have been a lone voice against the resulting sexualisation, narcissism, hedonism, selfishness and materialism. Marginalised and dismissed as bigoted and homophobic, Christians are now despised as has-been and out of touch with the cool cosmopolitan mainstream.

But the hidden hegemonic ambitions of the Gaystapo have been exposed recently by their plans to annex and redefine ‘marriage’. They already have achieved equal rights through civil partnerships, so to covet the word and undermine a foundation-stone of our civilisation – and nurturing place for our children – betrays other more ominous intentions. They want to change our language, manipulate our culture and thereby impose their world-view on us all. Cultural domination is their aim and fascist-type intolerance (here) of politically-incorrect dissent (here) is their weapon. The eradication of marriage as “the life-long union between a man and a woman” is a huge next step along their way.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man or woman. Who will stand up and publicly confront this new domination and intolerance? In 1938 it was perfectly reasonable to like the German people but hate Nazi ambitions and ideology. Today it is perfectly reasonable to warmly engage with your gay neighbours while at the same time forcefully confronting the vaulting ambitions of gay leaders and their atheist and humanist fellow-travellers.

There is a season and a time for everything under the sun. For Christians, the season of appeasement, fear and cowering in the corner is over. “Whom shall I send,” said the Lord, “and who will go for us?”

Now is the time for people of courage to rise up and defend marriage, our children and the very foundations of our civilisation. The only right response? “Here I am, send me.”

Sun, Sand and the Corner of a Spanish Campsite

As usual this month sees our annual family fly-away to the hot sun, cool pool and relaxed sociability of a Spanish campsite. The baking beaches, long slow barbeques and solitary early morning prayer times at the water’s edge as the magnificent translucent Mediterranean sun rises silently, imperceptibly, over the sea’s far horizon – the attractions never pall but rather entice us back year after year.

It was maybe five years ago that I fell into a new holiday habit and developed a new holiday mantra. I casually threw Alan Storkey’s ‘Jesus And Politics’ into my baggage thinking I really ought to get to grips with some serious reading rather than the usual airport novel, and surprisingly found myself gripped by the intensity and originality of his argument. In swimming trunks under the poolside parasol, with Bible in one hand and highlighter in the other, I checked and re-checked Storkey’s thesis and for hours was interrupted only by the delighted shrieks and splashings of our pre-teen children enjoying themselves under the watchful eyes of the pool lifeguards.

I love my children deeply, but I was now suddenly addicted to heavyweight vacation reading. “My own holiday begins when the kids are safe, happy and quarter of a mile away,” I announced, and I’d intone this new mantra as I retired to a far corner of the campsite to the amiable disgust of my wife.

Haykel’s 600-page ‘The Life of Muhammad’ was next. Laborious but informative, I was astonished at how this authoritative tome which has the endorsement of the Grand Shaykh of al-Azhar University, Islam’s premier seat of learning, could simply airbrush and whitewash the darker doings of Muhammad’s life. For instance, Muhammad’s approval of the assassination of the poetess Asma bint Marwan – slaughtered whilst asleep with her young children – for composing abusive verses against him, is passed over without comment while the subsequent Islamic conversion of Banu Khutmah, Asma’s husband’s tribe, is warmly attributed by Haykal to the ‘courage’ of her assassin!

The title of the following year’s book, ‘Matters of Life & Death’ by Christian ethicist Professor John Wyatt, didn’t look like jolly holiday reading. Jolly it wasn’t but illuminating it was. It highlighted the callous treatment of weak, vulnerable and disabled people implicit in the Ronald Dworkin and Peter Singer type of godless liberal humanism and how there is an straight-line connection between today’s utilitarian individualism and the growing enthusiasm for euthanasia and eugenics. We are, it seems, steadily returning to the laws of the jungle and Darwinian survival of the fittest; the talented and useful are lauded and acclaimed while the elderly, terminally-ill, unproductive and unwanted are looked at askance. Brute barbarism with a smooth smiling liberal face is apparently becoming the mainstream mindset. O come Lord Jesus!

My main book last year was Richard Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’. Perhaps affected by the Spanish sun, I decided to give atheism’s chief proselytist full credit and try to get inside his ‘evidence-based’ arguments against the existence of God. “If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down,” writes Dawkins (p28). Apprehensively, I determined to be vulnerable to his evidence and arguments, with the attendant risk that his book might in some way undermine my faith.

However it took just eighty pages for Dawkins himself to dispel my apprehension. He claims to be a scientist who draws conclusions only from hard facts and clear evidence; if he could see incontrovertible proof of the existence of God he reckons he would change his mind immediately. This sounds terrific – at least until you read Dawkins on Stephen Jay Gould, from whence you realise his claims are untrue and that he has creedal doctrines as rigid as any red-neck fundamentalist believer.

Gould was an eminent evolutionary biologist who argued in ‘Rocks of Ages’ that science, which deals with the empirical realm, and religion, which deals with questions of ultimate meaning and moral value, are ‘non-overlapping magisteria’; the how question is categorically different from the why question. This conflicts directly with Dawkins’ scientism (which believes that science has or will have the answer for virtually every question) so he is forced to write on page 81, “I simply do not believe that Gould could possibly have meant much of what he wrote in Rocks of Ages”!

Gould’s says one thing plainly and clearly. Dawkins, away with the fairies, flying teapots and little green men, and against the clear evidence, believes it simply must mean something else. It’s classic Dawkins self-delusion. I said goodbye to his nonsense.

For this summer’s holiday I have David Bentley Hart’s ‘Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and its Fashionable Enemies’ awaiting me on my Kindle. Dipping into the first few pages, I’ve already highlighted the author’s comments about “Christianity’s twenty centuries of unprecedented and still unmatched moral triumphs – its care of widows and orphans, its alms-houses, hospitals, foundling homes, schools, shelters, relief organisations, soup kitchens, medical missions, charitable aid societies, and so on.”

It seems Bentley Hart will be an excellent antidote to Dworkin, Dawkins and Christianity’s other trendy detractors. I can’t wait for my shady corner of the campsite.

(This post was published as an article in The Church of England Newspaper on 26 August 2011)

China Gets It

“It’s all a bit dated,” said my taxi companion, a member of the House of Lords with a long track record of public service. He and I had been at the Oxford Union debating the motion “This House believes the 21st century belongs to the East, not the West” (here). We were being taken to the up-market overnight accommodation provided by ‘the world’s most famous debating society’.

“We should have moved on from this old-fashioned adversarial style of argument to a more consensual approach,” he said warming to his theme. “We should look for points of

agreement rather than difference.”

I dared to differ, and said so. You don’t have to be a fiery outside-the-walls Old Testament prophet to recognise how far UK public life has moved from a truth-based confidence to a grey ducks-in-line conformity. The priority for today’s governing class is not to robustly deal with reality but to cautiously control relationships. Rocking the boat and frightening the horses have become crimes against the entrenched liberal status quo. Rather we must cover our eyes, block our ears and hold hands together while we dance round the maypole – preferably singing la-la-la from a politically-correct hymn sheet. After all, as one Roman politician famously said 2000 years ago, What is truth? He would have felt utterly at home in Westminster and Whitehall.

Fortunately Oxford Union Society knows no such toadying compliance. Founded nearly 200 years ago in a more vibrant age, debates in the Union chamber take place under the watchful eyes – by portrait or bust – of Oxford graduates and former prime ministers such as the Marquess of Salisbury, William Gladstone, Sir Alec Douglas-Home and Edward Heath. In 1933, the year Hitler came to power, the Union notoriously passed the motion “This House would under no circumstances fight for King and country”. More recently it has listened by video link to the banned Islamic firebrand Zakir Naik, and its contentious invitation to Nick Griffin (here) preceded by two years the BNP leader’s controversial appearance on BBC Question Time.

Our debate last week could only have taken place in secular materialist Europe that has blinded itself to spiritual realities. Speaker after speaker showed themselves dazzled by China’s recent super-power appearance on the world stage and there was much debate about relative economic development, commercial growth and financial investment.

But I pointed out that the real undetected jaw-dropper is the recent phenomenal growth of Christianity in the country. While post-war Europe has said goodbye to God, the Chinese have said hello in exponentially increasing numbers. According to Professor Niall Ferguson, a century and a half of intense Christian missionary work had yielded just half a million Chinese believers by 1949. But he reckons the church today is growing so fast that within three decades some 20% to 30% of the Chinese population of over 1.3 billion will be Christian (here). There will be more Christians in China than the USA.

According to former editor of the Sunday Telegraph, Dominic Lawson, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has discovered what Europe has chosen to ignore (here).

“One of the things we were asked to look into was what accounted for the success, in fact the pre-eminence, of the West all over the world,” said a senior member of the Beijing Academy. “We studied everything we could from the historical, political, economic, and cultural perspective. At first, we thought it was because you had more powerful guns than we had.

“Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system.

“But in the past twenty years, we have realised that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity. That is why the West is so powerful.

“The Christian moral foundation of social and cultural life was what made possible the emergence of capitalism and then the successful transition to democratic politics. We don’t have any doubt about this.”

As a result and despite persecuting the underground church, the atheist Chinese Communist government is pouring money into Catholic and Protestant seminaries and helping to fund state-sanctioned churches (here). The largest Bible printer in the world is based at Nanjing and produces over a million scriptures a month primarily for the Chinese church (here).

So while Christianity is and will increasingly bring life, vitality, human rights and democracy to China, godless Europe is declining into sterile risk-avoiding regulation-bound sclerotic gentility and is destined to become a sort of Isle of Wight to the world – a refined tourist resort, museum piece and history theme park, but irrelevant to the future of the globe. Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon: how secular Europe is fallen!

But I had good news for the bright young students of Oxford. The future belongs neither to the East nor the West but to them if they will grasp it. As it happens the University’s own Latin motto tells of the one thing that is needful. It is the first line of Psalm 27: Dominus Illuminato Mea. The Lord is my light.

So as I closed the debate I urged them to listen to their University motto and choose the light. I was delighted this proffered choice received loud applause. There is hope for the younger generation, even in fading secularised Europe.

(This post also appeared as an article in last Friday’s edition of The Church of England Newspaper.)

Secularism Sucks

It’s distressing and depressing. The Anglican establishment – as represented by the Bishop of Oxford and chairman of the Board of Education, the Rt Revd John Pritchard – has so lost confidence in itself and the Gospel that it wants to throw the baby out with the bathwater and reduce the proportion of church-going pupils at C of E schools to just 10 per cent.

So secularism rules and guilt-ridden liberalism reigns. The bishop – who himself was privately educated of course (here) – reckons sniffily that the church schools for which he has responsibility seem to be about “collecting nice Christians into safe places” (here). Tell that to the hard-pressed headteachers of the C of E primary schools in deprived multi-ethnic east London where I live.

He justifies this new inclusivity with supreme liberal-Anglican arrogance, claiming that the Church of England “is the only organisation that exists for the sake of its non-members”. Tell that too to the Chair of the Charity Commission and its 162,000 registered charitable organisations (here).

The bishop – who was educated at the top-drawer universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Durham – says he arrived at the figure of 10 per cent by “pure hunch”. Then presumably he can advance no rational reason why invertebrate church authorities shouldn’t go further and decide on zero per cent.

He could of course go even further than that. He could propose that the church hitch herself fully to the hostile secular bandwagon and start to actively discriminate against believers who want church school education for their offspring.

Or how about the church offering to fund Richard Dawkins’ latest plans to set up an atheist school (here)? That would at least have the merit of taking the bishop’s self-flagellating liberal agenda to its logical conclusion.

The enemies of Christianity are salivating of course. Even the National Secular Society which takes no prisoners and is currently running an aggressive ‘Debaptise Yourself’ campaign (“Liberate yourself from the Original Mumbo-Jumbo that liberated you from the Original Sin you never had!”) (here) concedes the bishop has taken “a step in the right direction” from their point of view.

Thank God for the Catholic Church with its clear stand against secularisation. Our local oversubscribed Catholic secondary school effectively excludes our daughters because we aren’t Catholic believers. But I don’t begrudge them this despite the limited alternatives. At least they know what they stand for.

And of course the Pope routed New Atheists and other protesters during last year’s visit with his call to arms against the UK’s “aggressive secularism”. There are “deep Christian roots… present in every layer of British life,” he said, and attempts by the 20th century totalitarian regimes to eliminate God (Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong and Pol Pot come to mind) should provide “sobering lessons” on tolerance (here). Unsurprisingly our intolerant friends at the National Secular Society had a hissy fit (here).

But the Catholic hierarchy doesn’t always hit the right note. In his Easter message Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien rightly called on Christians of all denominations to resist attempts to destroy our Christian heritage and culture (here). Yet he spoilt this by appealing to self-interest, complaining about the way Christians have been marginalised and prevented from acting in accordance with their beliefs. Here the Cardinal’s language became shrill and victim-speak.

It is of course true that Christians face marginalisation and hostility. But this is not unexpected. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me,” said Jesus. We should rejoice and be glad when the National Secular Society, Richard Dawkins, Peter Tatchell and politically-correct authorities like Wakefield & District Housing of recent ‘palm cross’ fame (here) have a go at us for our faith.

The far greater crisis is the corrosion of our culture. Self-centred individualism, hedonism, sexualisation and shopping are the dehumanising hallmarks of our age, and all these are directly attributable to the de-Christianisation of our civilisation. It’s the voiceless and vulnerable who suffer from today’s me-first morality. Society is enjoined to look after number one, so the devil will of course take the hind-most and helpless.

Christians must awake, arise, advance Kingdom values for the 21st century and challenge such secularisation. This is not because we ourselves have been disadvantaged, but because Christian values are demonstrably better for wider society. It’s hedonistic secular values not Christian modesty and restraint that misunderstands human nature, liberalises the drinking laws and unleashes the binge-culture on town centres every weekend.

It’s the secular cult of youth worship rather than Christian respect for parents that sexualises our children, teaches inappropriate sex & relationships education at school and elsewhere and then wonders why teenage pregnancies have soared.

I recently received an email from a non-believing acquaintance: “Only today some fool member of the clergy said that only 10% of CE schools pupils should be practicing Christians,” he wrote angrily. “I am not a practicing Christian but this situation is ridiculous. The ‘establishment’ doesn’t realise that the reason for the success of such schools is because they are Christian. They also don’t realize that the success of the West was because of its Christian cultural matrix.”

My angry agnostic acquaintance got it exactly right: Secularism sucks.

(This post also appears as an article in today’s edition of The Church of England Newspaper.)