WHEN the redoubtable, nay indomitable, Delia Smith, the best and sanest culinary diva of all time, writes a full page in a national newspaper to protest about the persecution of Christians, it’s time we sat up and noticed.
I have written many times in this column about the savagery being meted out to Christians worldwide.
Churches are routinely burned down in Pakistan. Most of the Christians in Iraq have fled that country. Somalia, Sudan and Nigeria are degenerating into hell holes of anti-Christian savagery. Compared with such widespread atrocity, the fact that I couldn’t walk down the main street in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, wearing my dog collar without being thrown into jail speaks volumes about the myth of the “interfaith dialogue” so beloved of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Fair enough. Christians have learnt to expect nothing else but persecution, desecration and slaughter at the hands of Islamic fundamentalists. But the most severe persecution of Christians in Britain comes from the secular ideologues who run public affairs in this country and who certainly have the ear of the Prime Minister. The latest in a long list of scandalous episodes of ordinary Christian folk having their lives curtailed is the judgement which says that a Christian has no right to wear a small cross in the workplace.
We need to carefully examine the logic of this preposterous judgement. It entails the conclusion that any employer has the right to ban the cross from the workplace.
This is of historic significance. It denies rights to Christians and gives rights to secularists and atheists. Christianity has shaped British society for 1,500 years. And even before St Augustine arrived as a missionary in AD 597, Celtic Christians were celebrating the faith in Britain. For 400 years English literature and the voices of those of us who only speak in the street and the pub have been profoundly and inescapably influenced by the King James Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.
The Queen is both head of state and supreme governor of the Church of England.
The Education Act of 1944 prescribes a daily act of worship in all state schools and, again, conscientious objectors may excuse themselves.
And the 1944 Act presupposed that this worship should be Christian. Not, of course, that this sane and benign daily offering takes place in many schools – because so many of the teachers have imbibed the secular, atheistic and anti-Christian culture which so scars our national life and scorns our history.
Let me offer a little advice. Don’t worry too much about persecution by crazy jihadists, but look out for secular iconoclasts who wish to obliterate Christianity from public life.
The Cumbrian philosopher RG Collingwood warns what the consequences will be: “Civilisations sometimes perish because they are forcibly broken up by the armed attack of enemies without or revolutionaries within; but never from this cause alone. Such attacks never succeed unless the thing that is attacked is weakened by doubt as to whether the end which it sets before itself, the form of life which it tries to realise, is worth achieving. On the other hand, this doubt is quite capable of destroying a civilization. If the people who share a civilization are no longer on the whole convinced that the form of life which it tries to realise is worth realising, nothing can save it.”