With Theresa May blabbing on about how her Christian faith is guiding her Brexit strategy, I started getting a rather horrible image of Religion and Politics becoming as intertwined here as it is over in the US. The 2015 General Election was a bit of an eye-opener for me when I saw a handful of Christians, who had up to that point been very vocal about alleviating poverty, voting Conservative on the grounds that David Cameron was a Christian; completely ignoring (or ignorant of) the statistics showing that Foodbank usage had risen exponentially during his austerity-driven premiership. It highlighted a couple of things to me:
- Some Christians will take care of their own before anyone else, regardless of need
- Religion can so easily be hijacked
As of the 2011 Census, there were 37.5m Christians in the UK, or approximately 60% of the population. Assuming they’re all practising Christians, how many of them, on hearing Theresa May’s statement, will think either:
- “she’s being guided by God, so who am I to interfere?”
- “is she really, or is she just saying that?”
In Christian belief, God holds ultimate power and authority, but the word of God is inexplicit and open to interpretation. The two together are incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands. Take Leviticus 18:20 (“You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination”), combine it with Proverbs 11:19 (“And he who pursues evil will bring about his own death”) and Ezekiel 18:4 (“The soul who sins will die”), coat it in a whole heap of God’s highest authority, and you potentially have someone who believes it’s okay to murder gay people. The commandment of “You shall not murder” is equally inexplicit and will do little to quell such extreme actions – they could still be justified as a form of moral warfare or capital punishment, depending on your interpretation.
Freedom of religion, along with the freedom to hold no religion at all, is a fundamental human right; as religion is personal and religious texts open to interpretation, it is my view that the state should be entirely secular; Government officials are there to serve an entire population, not a selected subset of that population, and therefore should only pass legislation on actual, rather than perceived, immorality.
Take, for example, the oft-reported case of a Christian-run bakery refusing to provide a cake celebrating a gay wedding on the grounds of their religious beliefs. While I believe it is their right to refuse service on what they regard as a moral issue (I’m sure their less-objective competitors agree), the right to refuse service cannot be a one-sided affair. Say, for example, the same Christian couple who ran the bakery went to a catering firm to provide food for a baby’s baptism, only for the caterer to refuse based on their belief that it is immoral for baptism to be forced upon a child by their parents. The couple would have no right to complain or cry discrimination if they enforce their right to moral objection in their own business.
Beliefs are not necessarily facts but, because the Bible lays down God’s authority, such beliefs do become considered as facts. To me, it appears as if you can interpret a few Bible verses a certain way and, just by holding up a copy of the Bible, get others to subscribe to your belief as if it was fact – much like this woman in Target did:
You never see someone holding a Bible aloft and yelling “Jesus tells us in John 13:34 to love one another without condition. I don’t care whether you’re black, white, male, female, gay, straight, cis, trans, Christian, Muslim, animal, vegetable or mineral – I LOVE YOU ALL!!!”.
I have absolutely nothing against anybody using their respective Holy texts to inspire positivity.
So if those were Jesus’ words, and Jesus is God incarnate, and God has absolute authority… why are Christians putting words into God’s mouth and not doing as he commands?
If you absolutely NEED something to hate: hate violence, injustice and ignorance.