Friday, 21 July 2017

Persecution and Martyrdom Special!

Is Christianity in crisis? Our survey reveals 9 out of 10 ordinary Christians feel marginalised

As Christianity continues to dwindle into a minority cult in the UK, and as more and more of its privileges are lost, so the whining about persecution, coupled with that old craving for martyrdom gets louder.

This collective whine was revealed in the results of a survey by Premier published last Sunday. The full survey is freely available as a pdf file here but be warned, you'll need to give your name and email address before you can access it.

The reality is of course that Christians in the UK enjoy precisely the same legal rights as anyone else regardless of their faith or lack of it. Rights and privileges are not granted on the basis of membership of a particular church or faith group in the UK anymore; they are granted on the basis of a shared humanity. There are not Christian rights, Atheist rights, Jewish rights or Muslim rights; there are only human rights.

But this survey shows that isn't enough for Christians. Christians feel persecuted if they're not granted the privileges to which they feel entitled. They are not granted the right to state mythology and prejudice as facts and not have them challenged. They're not granted the right to publicly condemn, abuse and persecute others for not sharing their chosen life-style. They're not granted the privilege to 'share' their superstition in the workplace and be quietly and respectfully listened to as they spout their bigotry and tell others that they're morally inferior and will be condemned to Hell.

Religions in the workplace do nothing but spread division, disharmony and isolation. The law requires employers to provide a healthy and safe working environment in which the Human Rights of all employees and visitors are safeguarded. No faith group is entitled to a special dispensation to pretend to occupy some notional moral high-ground with sanctimonious posturing and condemning others as morally inferior. Using what is in effect a captive audience to preach to is an abuse.

Typical of the judgemental sanctimony of the Christian church was the reaction of the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford:

[B]elievers should not be surprised or downhearted when the sheer beauty of the Gospel is a shock and an affront to a fallen world. The world has never been in accord with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we've always had the challenge that we need to live it and share it.

I have a book and it entitles me to tell other, lesser, mortals how to live! Ironically, this is exactly the sort of hypocritical judgmentalism that drives people away from a church that spouts this while covering up and facilitating clerical abuse of children, while wining about being treated the way it would like to treat others.

Christians are still vastly over-represented in positions of power in the UK in comparison to their dwindling numbers. No other religion has its titular head as head of state; no other religion has its leading clerics entitles to a seat in the upper chamber of our legislature and no other religion has its senior clerics appointed by the head of government on behalf of the head of state. Culturally we are still expected to defer to the moral authority of someone because he or she has an imaginary friend and dresses in robes and a silly hat.

If Christians feel marginalised then they only have themselves to blame. It's by and large their holier-than-thou judgemental sanctimony and hypocrisy that has driven so many people away from the church. The struggle to emancipate women into the priesthood and their continuing difficulty with accepting members of the LGBT community as entitled to the full range of Human Rights has rightly marginalised the Christian church in UK society. They have done this, not anyone else. The attitude of Christian bigots towards minorities has itself made them a minority now whining wrongly that they are being treated the way tho openly treated minorities themselves.

Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Chelmsford
The headline figures revealed in this limited and largely self-selecting sample with it's questions designed to appeal to those predisposed to simmering martyrdom and who like to feel their 'persecution' somehow validates their faith, are exactly what you would expect. Of the 12,000 who responded:
  • 93% believe that Christianity is being marginalised. But if they choose to hold marginal views and refuse to integrate with mainstream opinion and life-style, the solution to this problem is in their gift and their gift alone. Society has moved on. We no longer wish to subscribe to the prejudices and traditions of Christian dogma concerning sexuality and sexual relations. It would be frankly astonishing if Christians do in private either. Per-marital sex and cohabitation are now the norm in UK society as is female sexual freedom. What Christianity once condemned as adultery and promiscuity, based on nothing more than religious dogma, are now normal behaviour.
  • 50% have experienced prejudice. With no details about what is regarded as 'prejudice' this could be anything from being denied goods and services, jobs or promotion opportunities (which are all illegal and easily redressed, as they are for non-Christians). If it means being told they shouldn't be preaching in the work-place or otherwise pushing their narrow sectarian views where they are not welcome, then again, this is of their own doing. Only recently Christians were complaining loudly that they were not allowed to discriminate against minorities and had to recognise the full Human Rights of homosexuals and others. This refusal of special privileges was presented as a form of prejudiced victimisation!
  • 80% say Christianity is not given equal respect. This smacks of denied entitlement to privilege. Which groups or religions are accorded more respect? But isn't respect something you earn and not something you're simply entitled to? If you hold socially unacceptable views about the rights of minorities does that deserve respect? Has a church who's clerics have actively abused children and vulnerable adults and in which senior leaders have participated in cover-ups actually deserve respect? No! Nor is it worthy of respect to try to impose your bigotry and superstitions onto others. Anti-social behaviour should be condemned, not respected . Cloaking it in a veneer of piety does nothing to rehabilitate or to make it socially acceptable.
  • 26% are unable to be open about their faith. Again this smacks of being denied privilege. Prejudiced bigots should not be free to openly express their bigotry in the work-place and in public. There are laws against hate crimes and rightly so. Displays of holier-than-thou sanctimony are not, and should not be, welcome. British society has moved on and mostly shaken off the last vestiges of the control Christianity once had over it. We rejected it for a good reason - it has no moral justification for its claim to be the guardian of the nations morals nor its claim to political influence. It is an outmoded, self-appointed, moralising hypocrisy way past its use-by date. e have no further use for it. But actually, although this 26% was one of the 'shocking' statistics the survey revealed, the authors of the report appear not to have noticed that 63% disagreed with it! 63% actually felt they could be open about their faith!

As Christianity dwindles into a marginal cult of wacka-a-doodle bigots, no-one will miss it and it only has itself to blame. Perhaps the slow death of a simmering martyr is poetic justice for how it has actively and with relish marginalised, stigmatised and persecuted every other minority whenever and wherever it has had the ability to do so. It is only fair. It has been setting a bad example for far too long and the bully is now getting its comeuppance.

Incidentally, it is interesting to read the comments in the above article if only for the ironic demonstration of exactly the wack-a-doodle bigotry that passes for Christianity nowadays, and exactly why people are leaving this cult in droves as it becomes more and more extreme and the domain of bigots and scientifically illiterate, self-possessed fools. This is not a representative sample of course, but also conspicuous is the absence of Christians condemning this arrogance and fundamentalist ignorance.

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