Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Perceptions of Religion and Politics

(Albrecht Dürer)
It's not often that I feel I have to stand on a podium in a secular enviroment, complete with megaphone and declare in ringing tones "I am an unashamed evangelical Christian and I feel a little bit persecuted here!", the latter part of the sentence being of course, because I am English and I am therefore a bit nervous about mentioning that I feel persecuted!
But Sir Elton John's comments the other week did make me feel, well not so much persecuted, but rather annoyed (and that's because his comments on religion seemed contradictory and generalised. Just as it is wrong to generalise gays, I think it is wrong to generalise Christians). The persecuted bit is because it is another sign that I feel that if I and others of my ilk declare that we are Christians, there is the fear that this simple statement will translate in some people's minds as "I am a bigot, a fascist, and I will treat you as evangelism fodder and proceeed to spout Biblical chapter and verse at every given oppurtunity!" , because, strange as it may seem, most of us are normal human beings. We sleep, we wake, we sometimes swear (well some of us), support a football team with almost slavish devotion, enjoy having sex (well apart from those of us who are celibate for one reason or another obviously!), and those of us who are conservative minded when it comes to morals (and most of us are different); well a lot of us do happily vote Labour in the UK, Democrat in the US, Socialist in France etc.. (obviously each to their own country or else I have unwittingly unleashed a massive act of electoral fraud!) . Plus some of us have a suspicion that, when it comes to Democracy, God is not politically partisan!
Not all of us are swift to condemn, not all of us refuse to accept people as they are. For example I am not impressed by promiscuity, but, being human, I understand it and refuse to sit in judgement and finger point at those who are! And to break stereotypes even further, two friends of mine are a lesbian couple who are devout, and one of whom thinks that my sense of humour is a bit too liberal for her liking!
Put simply, evangelical and conservative Christians are varied, just like everyone else! What unites us is that we believe, are unashamed to believe and happily share what we believe for the simple reason that we believe that Christ died for our sins and rose again! And why do I write all this and feel embarrassed to do so! Well it is simply because I am a tad tired at all the sweeping statements that get made about Christians, esp those who are catholic and those who are evangelical, or even both! Strange as it may seem, fundamentalists like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and Richard Dawkins ( ;) ) get up our nostrils as well! But then it's okay for the rest of you, we have to forgive them, not least because we are called to, not least because we all need forgiving!


The Labour Humanist said...

You doth protest too much!

Reconcile yourself knowing that as Christian you enjoy a number of citizenship privileges not accorded to us non-Christians.

For example enjoy your church schools funded by all of us taxpayers. Know that your fellow christian parents can choose a church school for their child, or if they don't fancy that, they can go to a community school instead. While us second class citizens are restricted to the community school.

Your christian fellows in the teaching profession can work in any state school in the land. Non-Christian teachers, of course, are barred from thousands of teaching jobs in church schools etc etc etc etc

Honestly you don't know you're born!

Paul Burgin said...

So Labour humanist, we meet at last! (Couldn't resist! ;) )
I am happy for other corners to be fought so long as my corner is respected. As for priviliges, I and many Christians would agree with you in so far as the fact that this is down to the C 0f E denomination being the "state religion". It's not something I have ever been happy with because it gives the impression and the oppurtunity to force feed Christianity. I agree with faith schools, but not state controlled ones!

Exiled in mainstream said...

Well as another evangelical socialist I know exactly what you mean

I'm currently doing policy research in the US and the whole association in the public mind between evangelical and ultra- right wingnut is profoundly depressing. As indeed is the plethora of crazy "Jesus votes UKIP" stuff in the UK making the belief that EU is the ten horned beast in Daniel.

check out Jim Wallis's blog - God's politics - for some hope!

Paul Burgin said...

Will do. I am also reading his book at the moment. Thanks for the encouragement! :)

Harry Barnes said...

See "A Gentle Atheism" posted on 2 November. And if you wish to move on "Will the real Peter Hain please stand up?" (16 November).

Praguetory said...

Elton's interview takes the piss. Banging on about human rights but speaking of banning religion. It's rare that a person's hypocrisy is so clearly exposed within a few sentences. His stance is not about equality, but power.

Often politics is about power and status. Elton is just being political, but as his views are not based on principle, please allow me to bin them.

Exiled in mainstream said...


can't we just ignore Elton John on the grounds that he's made relentlessly crap middle of the road mush for his entire career :)

But I agree tedious bigotry like his deserves to becalled.

Paul Burgin said...

Hustling on my blog Harry? ;) That said, I am guilty of that myself and yours is a good read, so I will put a link on my blog sidebar!

Prague, Elton's views are ill thought out and silly, but it's easy to get emotive and it may well come from the fact that, understandably, he sees Christians as those who generally persecute gays!

Exilled in Mainstream. Yes Elton has made a few duds, but Your Song, The One, Philadelphia Freedom, and The B**** Is Back are classics in my own humble opinion!

Praguetory said...

For the record, I like some of Elton's music. Your Song is a karaoke favourite of mine.

Paul Burgin said...

Oh, backtracking quickly now! ;)

Praguetory said...

Every day has its own truth is a motto I like. I stand by what I said but it is a storm in a teacup.

Paul Burgin said...