Chris Goswami responds to the debate between Matt Dillahunty...
If 93% of Christians believe their faith is being marginalised, we are not a liberal accepting society
Premier's CEO Peter Kerridge responds to a survey which shows 93% of Christians believe that Christianity is being marginalised
Christianity has been a major influence in the UK for 1500 years. Our history and culture, our values, our government, our legal and medical systems all bear its mark. From our monarchy to the smallest of gatherings in the local parish hall, traces of the Christian faith are all around us.
Church spires across the country point out a nation whose whole fabric of life is interwoven with Christianity. Everyday ordinary Christians quietly live out their faith and in a myriad of ways make the world a better place.
Last month, as church halls and Mosques in North Kensington responded as one to the horrific disaster at the Grenfell flats, Tim Farron, ironically a leading liberal, stepped down from his post saying that he couldn't do his job because of the hostility to his faith. Premier's 'State of the Faith' survey is an authoritative snapshot of how ordinary Christians across the UK are feeling today about their faith.
This is not the clergy talking, or academics theorising, or politicians making a case.
They feel overwhelmingly that their Christian beliefs are being marginalised and that as a result it’s becoming far more difficult to live as a person of faith in the UK.
They feel Christianity isn't being given the same respect as other faiths, that the media, the way laws are interpreted, the general hesitancy of businesses and public bodies to constructively engage with them as Christians is pushing them to the edge of society.
It's clear we are not the liberal accepting society we think we are if we don't tolerate and accept everyone, including Christians. People of faith, from all religions should be allowed to live and work in freedom. They should be encouraged to hold to their faith not just in their homes and churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, but also in their jobs and hobbies and in the public square.
While this survey clearly indicates how it feels to be an ordinary Christian today, I suspect other faith groups may have similar stories to tell.
That said, I think there is plenty that the Church could be doing to provide encouragement for ordinary Christians. Firstly, by being much more supportive of Christians who aren't necessarily found in church on a Sunday. There are millions of people trying to live out their lives, who for whatever reason can't be in church on a Sunday. It sounds obvious, but couldn’t churches extend their opening hours? Or why not experiment with new ways of using the tens of thousands of church buildings? We all need to adapt to enable normal ordinary Christians to feel they are really part of a community. It would show that Christianity isn't an institution run by a professional elite ministering to the holy few.
If ordinary Christians could feel confident that having a faith was a reasonable life choice, was normal, acceptable, then this part of their lives wouldn't have to be practiced in the shadows. Faith, which is the main driver of so much that happens in the world could be talked about. And the UK would be a healthier, better informed, more accepting place to live.
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