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September 2013

October 29, 2013

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Dear Friends

Recently the Russian pole vaulter Isinbayeva spoke out against homosexuality and was condemned for it, with Stephen Fry leading a call for Russia to be stripped of the 2014 Winter Olympics because of her comments. Shortly before that the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke out against Wonga and other pay day loan companies and faced criticism over it. What has happened to the right of free speech? Or is free speech only allowed when it supports certain viewpoints? Whatever our views on homosexuality and payday loan companies as Christians we must support the right of anyone to free speech, with the obvious proviso that free speech must not be used to incite hatred. Isinbayeva stated her opposition to homosexuality she did not call for action against homosexual people. Justin Welby said that he wanted Credit Unions to become a viable alternative to payday loan companies that would eventually see them close, he did not call for action against individuals working for such companies. They are perfectly right to state their views and expect others to respect their right to say it.

As Christians we champion the right of free speech because it is inalienable human right and because we want people to respect our right to proclaim our message. The base line is that the Christian message is hard line and will cause offense. Neither the Old Testament Prophets or the New Testament Letter Writers minced their words and watered down God’s message. Jesus was even harsher in some of his statements. His support of the Old Testament Law, his words on marriage, his views on hell and the statement that he is the only way to God come to mind. If we take Jesus seriously we have to take his views and his claims seriously and we have to live by them, after all we are the body of Christ.

A true Atheist can do what they like because, although they may create their own moral code, they do not follow any deity who has given them such a code. The followers of any religion take on the moral code that goes with it whether it be Islam, Hinduism, Buddism, Paganism, or whatever. As Christians we respect their right to practice their religion whether we like it or not, and of course we expect the same right to be accorded to us. However it is not so simple with Christianity.

It does not require a great study of Christianity to realise that it claims to be the only true faith, that it claims that in the end all people will come to faith in our God and it has the highest moral and ethical code of all religions. To paraphrase Gandhi the problem with Christianity is not that it has failed but that it has never been properly tried. If we lived in a truly Christian country then things would be very different. We would not be debating immigration policies, all would be welcome. We would not be cutting social services, medical services and benefits there would be enough in the kitty for all because no-one would be avoiding pay taxes. The would be no theft of property, no physical assaults on another human being and no one would be charging exorbitant interest rates. People would respect one another and the seventh commandment would be sacrosanct.

Impossible you say, utopian idealism gone mad. No it would be what we pray for ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

 

Ian

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