Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Christian think tank plays down Christian "persecution"

Dear reader, our blog has moved to a new address.

Do come on over (and change your bookmarks accordingly): rationalist.org.uk

A handy rule in life (as we've discovered in the past) is that if you're annoying Damian Thompson, you're probably doing something right. And so it proves with Christian think tank Ekklesia, who have just been called "the smuggest think tank in Christendom" by Thompson after their co-director Jonathan Bartley made some rather sensible suggestions regarding those Christians who claim they're being persecuted in modern Britian.

Writing on the Guardian's Comment is Free site, Bartley points out that accusations of secular persecution of British Christians have little basis in reality. They're fuelled by activist conservative Christian groups such as the Christian Legal Centre who deliberately pursue them (stand up those behind the praying nurse affair) and an appetite for such stories in the right wing tabloid press (stand up the Daily Mail):
"Their agenda is a desperate attempt to win back, or at least try to maintain, many of the special privileges and exemptions that Christianity previously enjoyed, but which society is no longer willing to grant. Their argument is that since Britain is a 'Christian country', their faith, and its adherents, should have special recognition and dispensation."
Of course, it's time we stopped hearing about these ridiculous manufactured tales of persecution, and Bartley seems to have a very sensible idea of how this might be avoided – a little bit of old-fashioned compromise:
"We need mediators, not agitators. So here's an offer to the secularists. When the next controversy emerges, and the usual suspects begin to shout and cry, rather than fuelling their frenzy, let's work together and offer to facilitate some reconciliation, and a way forward. If nothing else, it'll show that perhaps everyone isn't out to get them after all."
I don't really think secularists are the problem in all this, but I certainly agree with the sentiment. And if it means the Daily Mail can't run sensationalist "PC-gone-mad" stories, then everyone wins. Except the Mail, obviously.