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Christians who are tired of being pushed around in Britain could learn from straight-talking Americans

And does Cameron really mean what he says about standing up for Christian values?

By on Wednesday, 21 December 2011

The White House Christmas tree, which this year is called a 'Holiday Tree' (Photo: PA)

The White House Christmas tree, which this year is called a 'Holiday Tree' (Photo: PA)

It seems that the White House has succumbed to political correctness: apparently it referred to Christmas trees as “Holiday Trees” for the first time this year. It has prompted this response from CBS presenter, Ben Stein, who broadcast his response on the CBS Sunday Morning commentary:

“I am a Jew and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it doesn’t bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful, lit up, bejewelled trees, Christmas trees. I don’t feel threatened. I don’t feel discriminated against… It doesn’t bother me a bit when people say ‘Merry Christmas’ to me… In fact I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year.

“I don’t like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don’t think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can’t find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat…”

I think we need some of Ben Stein’s straight-talking over here, too. There have been too many public incidents in this country where Christians have been pushed around for stating firmly their Christian beliefs; these range from foster parents being discriminated against for upholding Christian moral teaching, B&B owners being hounded for the same reason, and other cases of conscience that have hit the headlines.

Last Friday David Cameron made a speech at Christ Church, Oxford to mark the 400th anniversary of the publication of the King James Bible in which he said: “We are a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so. The Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today. Values and morals we should actively stand up and defend.” The Prime Minister called for the promotion of “Christian values”, saying it was “profoundly wrong” to believe that promoting Christianity would “do down other faiths”.

It’s all very well saying this – but does Mr Cameron really understand what he is saying? Is he just promoting the gospel of middle-class niceness to each other – or is he really signing up to Christian beliefs? In the latter case, how can he state, as he did notoriously at the last Conservative party conference, that he believes in same-sex “marriage”? This certainly isn’t Biblical teaching.

And would Mr Cameron agree that Nick Lansley, head of research and development for the Tesco website, should be called to account for what amounts to a hate speech, when he wrote on the same website that he is campaigning against “evil Christians (that’s not all Christians, just bad ones) who think that gay people should not lead happy lives and get married to their same-sex partners”? Suppose a Christian public figure in the supermarket industry had stated on a public website that he was campaigning against “evil people of same-sex attraction”? It would have caused an outcry.

On another topic: if you receive mail in the post that has not been franked, are you allowed to re-use the stamp? This has happened to me several times recently. I once asked a Benedictine monk this question. His reply was that certainly we are; the Post Office is the culprit. I then asked a Jesuit the same question. He looked shocked that I could even raise the subject. “It’s a form of theft!” he declared.

  • Anonymous

    Do you mind if I ask whether your father’s conversion was due to personal conviction, or was it because he wished to marry a Catholic?  I’m sorry to be nosey, it’s just unfortunate that your own family’s history is a good example of the point that I was trying to make.

  • Anonymous

    My father converted to the Catholic faith several years before he married my mother, who was born and raised in a Catholic family.

  • Anonymous

    “They cannot have children, which is what marriage is all about”
     
    On this basis, it would also be logical to deny the right to the status of marriage to heterosexual couples who were unable to have children for any reasons of infertility, including advanced age; or to heterosexual couples who announced that they did not wish to have children after marriage, bringing this about through abstinence or contraception.  In both cases I am assuming that the motive for marriage was to provide love and mutual support, both physical and economical.
     
    Why should homosexuals ‘consider themselves lucky’ to be treated with equality in our society?  The alternative is to treat them with varying degrees of persecution, either psychological, legal or physical.  I would add that I am going to be profoundly unimpressed with any quotations from the Old Testament that are used to support your argument, or any references to tradition.  Don’t forget that in the 17th C we had a tradition of burning Catholic priests in England.

  • Anonymous

    You seem to have two pet hates, Mr Hayes.  One is ‘enforced uniformity’ and the other is ‘the cult of individualism’.  Which do you hate most?  I suspect that you are, in fact, very much in favour of enforcement of uniformity of belief, provided it coincides with what you believe personally.

  • geoffreysmith1

    “…it would also be logical to deny the right to the status of marriage to
    heterosexual couples who were unable to have children for any reasons
    of infertility, including advanced age; or to heterosexual couples who
    announced that they did not wish to have children after marriage,
    bringing this about through abstinence or contraception.”

    Heterosexual couples who are unable to have children by reason of infertility or old age are not excluded from marrying in the Catholic Church.  In their case, the infertility is not their fault and they are in no way to blame for the fact that they are unable to have children.  The Church, accordingly, decrees that they are free to marry.

    Heterosexual couples who deliberately and of their own free will avoid having children, when they are physically capable of doing so, and on a permanent basis, are not married in the sight of God and His Church.  They may have gone through a wedding ceremony, but they are no more married at the end of that ceremony than they were before it started.  The Church, accordingly, decrees that they are not married.

    “Why should homosexuals (taxpayers & voters) ‘consider themselves
    lucky’ to be treated with equality in our society?  The alternative is
    to treat them with varying degrees of persecution, either psychological,
    legal or physical.”

    Homosexuals have all the rights available to other citizens except the right to marry.  In their case, an exception has to be made, due to their incapacity to have children, if they refuse to marry heterosexual partners, that is.
    This exclusion from the right to marry must not be taken as an excuse to subject them to any form of persecution or discrimination that deprives them of the rights that they hold in common with all other citizens.

     “Don’t forget that in the 17th C we had a tradition of burning Catholic priests in England.”

    I think you will find that the tradition favoured the hanging, drawing and quartering of recusants, rather than the burning.

  • Bob Hayes

    All your presumptions are wholly incorrect, which is understandable as you have presented nothing in the way of evidence to support your guesswork. 

    I am definitely not in, ‘favour of enforcement of uniformity of belief’. In fact I believe ‘conscript Catholicism’ and ‘conscript Christianity’ weaken rather than strengthen faith. People must be open to the Word of the Lord, not merely have it presented to them.

    Your final sentence once again identifies your attachment to the cult of the individual. I do not subscribe to your deification of individualism, rather I seek to follow the teachings of Christ. At times it is inconvenient, at times it involves self-denial, at times it is very difficult, but I try. I do not seek to build my faith or my lifestyle around the personal self-interest that is the ever-so evident consequence of the cult of individualism.

    Wishing you a Joyous Christmas, God bless.

  • Anonymous

    I knew the Oxford Martyrs got burned, but it doesn’t sound like much of a choice, does it?. Well argued, Mr Smith, and a Happy Christmas to you.  Personally I don’t see why they should want to get married in church, but as I’m neither homosexual nor Christian, I don’t feel that it’s any concern of mine one way or the other.

    Don’t burn the turkey.

  • Parasum

    Here’s an illustration:

    In this country, great efforts are made to avoid ruffling the feathers of Muslims; which is only fair - but in Iraq, Christians go in fear for their lives:

    http://www.totalcatholic.com/tc/index.php/uk-and-ireland-news/1960-midnight-mass-cancelled-in-baghdad

    The UK is becoming a militantly secular state *and* a dhimmi state.

  • Parasum

    “that there are a lot less of you than there used to be”
     
    ## I think that at least goes without saying LOL
     
    “…I would have to add that personally I would be in favour of strongly discouraging any conspicuous display of personal religious affiliation in public…”
     
    ## That is a tricky one – to do that is to take a particular position, that symbolism is not that important. But such a notion is totally alien to Catholicism – it might work with Evangelicalism; but not with more Liturgically-minded forms of Christianity. And there is a fine line – & AFAICS an indefinite one – between not being ostentatious, and in effect denying one’s convictions. Catholicism is not the kind of religion that can flourish if it remains invisible in the human heart alone; by its very nature, it is for sharing – so it is unavoidably public. Contrary to some stereotypes, Christ is not for Christmas alone, but for all times & seasons; & all nations & cultures. That is a New Testament claim – not a purely “Churchy” one. For thatreason, “expun[ing] Christianity from the public space” would be, not courtesy, but apostasy. Christianity cannot take as its standard of conduct even the highest of secular morality (& it can be sublime, no doubt of that) – it cannot take any other morality than that which is co-natural to it; which is a wholly different standard. A lot of the trouble for Christians has come from uncritically adopting non-Christian standards. Christian faith is not (in the vulgar sense) nice or safe – but it was never intended to be. To treat as though it were is a false notion that makes a right view of the virtues of the “natural man” impossible; it is this distorted idea that is behind the nonsense that atheists cannot be “good people”. Of course they can – that is part of the difficulty.

  • Anonymous

    Iraq today; Britain tomorrow.
    Assuming, of course, that the catastrophic birth-rate will allow the secularists and their Islamic cohorts to establish such a hellish nation.

  • Dave Corrigan

    It is the illiteracy and ignorance within the Church that is doing more harm than any outside threat. Is it not stupid that Orthodox and Roman Catholics quarrel with each other over the simple use of words; Catholics and Protestants argue over the simple matter of Papal authority whilst fundamental Muslims bomb, burn and slaughter Christians. Fundamental Muslims are rapidly proliferating throughout Africa and Europe and Christians just turn the other cheek. At my confirmation over sixty years ago, I vowed to be a soldier of Christ and defend the Catholic faith.But now the teaching is Dignitatis Humanae (Paragraph 2) “The Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom. Freedom of this kind means that all men and women should be immune from coercion and that nobody is forced to act against his or her convictions in religious matters. The Council declares that the right to religious freedom is based on the very dignity of the human person”. Paragraph 2 seems to mean that Muslims have equal rights to express their religion in any way that they see fit to do, (bomb, burn and slaughter). It would seem that according to Dignitatis Humanae there is no difference between Christians and Muslims (I know that this is not true, but it can be interpreted in this way). Do we just sit on our comfortable armchairs, fingering our rosary beads and wait for annihilation?

  • Oliver Stoops

    I wholly support your contention, but concept of “The Soldiers of Christ” of which you speak is no longer acceptable, nor is the concept of a Crusade. Such terms are not politically correct and it is theoretically possible to be prosecuted for even suggesting that one should fight for their faith. I watched Catholic and Anglican services on the television and it was difficult to distinguish the difference between them. The Anglican service was probably nearer to the Christmas High Mass that I knew as a boy. A saintly old parish priest told me in 1959. “Within your lifetime you will witness the demise of the Catholic Church as an channel for holiness and sanctity”. He predicted that Holy Mass would disappear and priests would be the servants of Jesus Christ in name only, and they would behave more like film actors seeking public recognition and public approval to vainglorious proportions. He said “The Catholic Church will last forever but there will be much suffering”. He was right, when one considers Christian (Catholic) persecution in Pakistan, The Holy Land, Nigeria, Indonesia and elsewhere. It would not be scare mongering to predict that Catholic persecution will happen in Europe and the UK, unless some courageous Catholic Church leader declares that: ‘Enough is enough’.

  • Mark Castilano

    It is an academic requirement to reference sources in publications, it is also considered to be polite to attribute them to the author. I do not wish to cause you embarrassment but some of the material you have written is from sources that you have not quoted.

  • Anonymous

    Religion is the only thing that keeps us from destroying one another and ourselves, because religion is the only set of rules which God tells us we cannot violate.

    Man’s laws are just as faulty as the man who made them.

  • theroadmaster

    It seems that Christians are seen as the ‘soft touch’ option by the liberal, humanist commentariat in the print, televisual and radio media sectors when it comes to beliefs which defy the politically-correct, multi-cultural, rights-driven campaigns of recent years.  This mindset is extant across Western societies and seems to be eroding the freedoms of belief and expression on important moral issues for Catholics, other Christians in particular and religious believers in general.  ‘Rights’ are being created for behavioral practices which were not defined as such before.  In a positive sense, it demonstrates that Christianity at it’s core is inimical to the subjective worldly viewpoints of society as it points to the greater reality of the Natural Law and the the Revelation of the Creator through His Universe.  Christians and other believers through the complementary admixture of Faith and Reason should continue to articulate their beliefs through the media outlets which others use to disparage them.  We must not let the exchange of ideas which effect our God-given understanding of ourselves to be monopolized by a self-serving atheistic elite.

  • theroadmaster

    ‘Inimical’ may not be the appropriate operative word to use here. ‘Contrary’ may be better.

  • Surfsidetx3

    I would not worry about muslims. Their biggest complaint is about “losing ” Africa to Christianity.   It is estimated 25% of Egypt is Christian most as part of the underground church.  Christianity is the fastest growing church in China and India. More Muslims converted to faith in Jesus Christ over the past decade
    than at any other time in human history. A spiritual revolution is
    underway throughout North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. As a
    result, a record number of ex-Muslims are celebrating Christmas this
    year, despite intense persecution, assassinations, and widespread church
    bombings’. These are the words of Joel C. Rosenberg

  • Jose M Spinoza

    I am a Catholic of Jewish background and I wish to state that the information you present is skewed and is devoid of accuracy. It is very clear by your inconsistent prose that the material came from several sources that are not your own work. What you have written is not new and I covered all this in my first year at a Catholic seminary. Your work is so bad it is not worth discussion. You would not like it very much if someone exposed the true sources of your material. People are not fools !!!

  • Anonymous

    I don’t give a flying fork about the words of Joel C Rosenborg.  I just have to open my eyes to current events to see that Islam represents an existential threat to western values, and that, through a combination of immigration and high birthrate, Muslims will exert increasing political power here in the UK to the detriment of secularists, Christians, women, gays and anybody else who doesn’t subscribe to their package of loony medieval beliefs.

  • Bob Hayes

    This, of course, begs the question: Is there a commonly-accepted notion of ‘western values’ – either in Britain or ‘the West’?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know about ‘commonly-accepted’, but personally I would propose (a) the concept of democracy per se; (b) universal human rights for all, regardless of gender, race, religion or sexual orientation; (c) the value of a broad cultural and scientific education; (d) the right to non-violent criticism of the prevailing ideology and political policies of one’s own society; (e) the right to voice criticism of all other ideologies, whether secular or religious in nature.

    All of these exist at the present time, to a greater or lesser extent, in the countries that are loosely lumped together as ‘the West’; most of them seem to be conspicuously lacking in Muslim countries (among others … I’m not forgetting North Korea, or even China itself).

  • Jameshughes1947

    Have to watch out for the EU aparatchik bully boys who are desperate to make us all conform to their new politically correct ‘all inclusive’ system, unless of course you might want to mention god in your relations with your fellow human beings.  

  • Bbshort

    It is good to hear this.  The man is absolutely, completely aware of the ‘atheists’ who know not God. If Morals from God’s Law is not observed, all the false ones come barging in, and the result is, Political Correctness. Atheism is Satanic. Those who profess out right, Atheism, are Satan’s puppets.  They are the Enemy of Man and God.  For they believe that God and Satan does not exist. Thus, they fall into a “No Zone” where, they do not believe, Satan is their Master.  A blinding effect takes place. They feel they have the right to do anything and live in any fashion, thus, morals become corrupted from Highest to Lowest. The Abandonment of God’s Laws in the society, creates untold evil and misfortunes to mankind in all levels and stages.  Just and Moral Laws, help society to be ‘good’; find peace, be open to Heaven and Eternal Life; instead of closed hearts and minds that have no peace. Lots of room for the Enemy of God and Man to work, creating new doctrines of devils, and so forth, with the end result man hating man. Errors of untold numbers, creating ruins in every walk of life.  The Moral Code of God’s Law, the intent is, to teach man to ‘love.’  Thus, Jesus Our Lord and Savior, put His two commandments to observe the 10 Commandments, to love the 10 Commandments, to teach man to love.  God bless

  • Believer

    >> “Don’t forget that in the 17th C we had a tradition of burning Catholic priests in England.”

    I think you will find that the tradition favoured the hanging, drawing and quartering of recusants, rather than the burning.<<
    Very good. I am totally agreed with your example of how easily traditions get started.

  • Christian

    It will not matter as we are right on the cusp of Christ’s second coming to set up His millennial reign. Look around and you will see the signs. Strangely our straitened world coincides with the biblical week-life of six days+Lord’s Day.

  • Believer

    And this is not a head count of the safe, but a heart count of the persecuted – persecution being a mark of the true church.  

  • Realist

    Good question. All the converts i know converted to Catholicism because of the sexual imperative, and Ne Temere.

  • thomas poovathinkal

    WHY FRIGHTENED OF ISLAM OR FOR THAT MATTER OF ANY GROUP OF PEOPLE?

    WHEN ST.PETER MOVED HIS FOCUS FROM THE LORD HE STARTED SINKING IN THE SEA…..FEAR CAME UPON HIM AND HE STARTED CRYING OUT …..

    FOCUSING ON ISLAM OR ON ….IS AS FOOLISH AS ST.PETER MOVING AWAY FROM THE LORD.

    LET ALL CHRISTIAN LEADERS BECOME TRUE APOSTLES OF CHRIST THE LORD, THEN YOU AND I WILL SEE THE DIFFERENCE. ALL LOST GROUND WILL BE ONE OVER AND MORE WILL HAPPEN TO MAKE US HAPPY.

  • thomas poovathinkal

    THE RELIGION OF SECULARISM IS CONFRONTING ALL OTHER RELIGIONS AS  AN 

    EASY OPTION

  • thomas poovathinkal

    ALL GLORY AND PRAISE TO THE KING-QUEEN GOD THE  BRITONS. 

    THEIR LOYAL SUBJECTS AND WORSHIPERS DESERVE SOME COMPLIMENTS FOR THIS GREAT ACHIEVEMENT.

  • http://twitter.com/PJTPOOAM Thomas Poovathinkal

    WHEN THE LORD MAKES HIS JUDGEMENTS WHO CAN STAND? WHERE IS ANY

    PLACE FOR CHRISTIANS WHO DON’T GIVE PLACE TO CHRIST IN THEIR HEARTS

    AND LIVES?

    Thomas Poovathinkal

  • http://twitter.com/PJTPOOAM Thomas Poovathinkal

    JUST FOLLOW CHRIST, LISTEN TO HIM 

    AND OBEY HIM:  “LOVE YOUR

    ENEMIES…PRAY FOR…..” YOU WILL SEE

    THE DIFFERENCE. IT IS HE THEN WHO

    WILL ACCOMPLISH FOR US WHAT WE ON

    OUR OWN CAN’T.

    Thomas Poovathinkal