Presentation on theme: "MEET & MEAT Threat or Opportunity - What does the present cultural and legal landscape mean for Christians?"— Presentation transcript:
MEET & MEAT Threat or Opportunity - What does the present cultural and legal landscape mean for Christians?
The Queen’s Promise Archbishop. Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them? Queen. All this I promise to do.
What is the present cultural landscape? Relative truth and relative morality In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit. (Judges 21:25) the Indian sage Vardhamāna c.599 – 527 BC Greek philosopher Protagoras (c. 481 – 420 BC) Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677) David Hume (1711–1776) German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)
The present legal landscape - Legislation Abortion Act 1967 1967-2007, 6.7 million abortions (av 167,500 p.a.) 176,364 in 2001, 189,574 in 2010, 189,931 in 2011 Bioethics: E mbryos may be created for research and destroyed after 14 days, use of embryonic stem cells and the creation of animal human hybrids also now permitted. End of life: Under 2010 DPP Guidelines those who assist another to commit suicide will not always be prosecuted. Sexual Offences Act 1967 Legalised private homosexual acts between consenting males over 21 Age of consent lowered to 18 in 1994, 16 in 2000 Divorce Reform Act 1969 – divorce on demand
The present legal landscape - Legislation - Human Rights Act 1998 o the right to life o freedom from torture o freedom from slavery o the right to liberty o the right to a fair trial o the right not to be punished if not a crime when you did it o the right to respect for private and family life o freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and to express your beliefs o freedom of expression o freedom of assembly & association o the right to marry and to start a family o the right not to be discriminated against in respect of these rights and freedoms o the right to peaceful enjoyment of your property o the right to an education o the right to participate in free elections o the right not to be subjected to the death penalty
The present legal landscape - Legislation Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 A local authority "shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" or "promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship“ Repealed on 21 June 2000 in Scotland and on 18 November 2003 in the rest of Great Britain Civil Partnership Act 2004
The present legal landscape - Legislation Equality Act 2010 Protected characteristics o Age o Disability o Gender Reassignment o Marriage and civil partnership o Pregnancy and maternity o Race o Religion or belief o Sex [N.B. not gender] o Sexual orientation
The present legal landscape - Court decisions and other legal disputes Peter and Hazelmary Bull Christian guesthouse owners who had to pay damages £3,600 for refusing to allow a gay couple to occupy a double room Judge: I do not consider that the appellants face any difficulty in manifesting their religious beliefs. They are merely prohibited from so doing in the commercial context they have chosen.
The present legal landscape - Court decisions and other legal disputes Lillian Ladele Christian registrar with Islington Borough Council, dismissed or demoted from her job in 2008 because of her refusal to preside over civil partnership ceremonies Judge: However much sympathy one may have with someone such as Ms Ladele, who is faced with choosing between giving up a post she plainly appreciates or officiating at events which she considers to be contrary to her religious beliefs … the requirements of a modern liberal democracy … include outlawing discrimination … on grounds of sexual orientation, subject only to very limited exceptions.
ShirleyChaplin Employment Appeal Tribunal said Christians "generally" did not consider wearing a cross as a requirement of their religion. Wearing a Cross Nadia Eweida The Government is opposing her appeal to the ECHR on the ground that wearing a Cross is not a requirement of Christian faith. The present legal landscape - Court decisions and other legal disputes
SHARING FAITH & PRAYING Dr Richard Scott, a GP, shared his faith with a patient during a consultation. GMC didl not let him cross-examine the complainant at disciplinary hearing. Reprimanded. Caroline Petrie, a nurse, asked a patient whether she would like to be prayed for
The present legal landscape - Court decisions and other legal disputes ADOPTION & FOSTERING Eunice and Owen Johns Rejected as foster parents because they said they could not tell a child a homosexual lifestyle was acceptable. Judge: No hierarchy of rights, but the requirement on fostering services to value diversity and promote equality means that “in this limited sense the equality provisions concerning sexual orientation should take precedence”.
The present legal landscape - Court decisions and other legal disputes ADOPTION – not prepared to place children with same-sex couples Andrew McClintock, Magistrate - forced to resign: Complaint to ET and appeal to EAT failed, permission to appeal to Court of Appeal refused. Dr Sheila Matthews was dismissed from her role on the local authority’s adoption panel Judge was told by Muslim Judge that Muslims would have the same concerns so she was not a victim of discrimination because she was a Christian
The present legal landscape – Court decisions and other legal disputes Gary McFarlane - counsellor dismissed by Relate after he refused to confirm that he would provide directive sex therapy to homosexual couples Lord Justice Laws: Legislation for the protection of views held purely on religious grounds not justified - irrational and "divisive, capricious and arbitrary", and “in the eye of everyone save the believer, religious faith is necessarily subjective, being incommunicable by any kind of proof or evidence.” Lord Carey wrote to Judge
The present cultural and legal landscape – our response Psalm 11:3 When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? C H Spurgeon: What cannot they do? There is no such word as "impossibility" in the language of faith; that martial grace knows how to fight and conquer, but she knows not how to flee. Greg Haslam:Rather than running scared from calamity, we must become a voice for compassion, tenderness and truth. The most loving thing we can do is to tell people the truth.
Culture – coming to terms with the demise of Christendom
ChristendomPost-Christendom From centre to margins Christian story and churches central Christian story and churches marginal From majority to minority Christians comprised majority We are a minority From settlers to sojourners Christians felt at home in a culture shaped by their story Aliens, exiles and pilgrims in a culture where we no longer feel at home From privilege to plurality Christians enjoyed many privileges One community among many in a plural society From control to witness Churches could exert control over society We witness to our story and its implications From maintenance to mission Maintaining a supposedly Christian status quo Mission within a contested environment From institution to movement Churches operated mainly in institutional mode We must become again a Christian movement
Is everything about postmodern culture bad? Human rights and anti-discrimination People created by God have dignity and worth but Protection necessary only without an absolute moral compass Failure to recognise differences that result from creation There can be no rights without responsibilities Difficulty in resolving conflicts Imported from French Revolution – a religion without God A reaction to fascism and to Nazism – a check on democracy Curbing greed - abandonment of Christian ethics on which capitalism, Parliament, Press and professions originally based Social justice – potentially earning us the right to speak into society about moral issues
Christian influence on Government and legislation Should we impose Christian values through legislation? We need to know when to assist the Government’s mandate or tell the Gospel’s message. The Government’s mandate is to rule according to law for the good of society. The Gospel’s message tells of Christ who can change people from inside. The law cannot change people’s minds: should allow freedom of religion even though non-Christian religions are false The law cannot change people’s hearts and behaviour: it should promote the moral order – not moralism – only the Gospel can deliver from sin We don’t want to force people to behave like Christians – we want them to become Christians! Not all sins should be crimes – that would be moralism.
Using the Courts Persecution? Is it persecution? Does it result from living “a godly life”? If it is persecution, what should be our response? Choosing our battles Should we defend the right to wear a Cross? How can we stay in the “public square”? Resisting the privatisation of Christianity How can we promote the public good? e.g. opposing licensing of lap-dancing clubs
The age of opportunity (1) Standing for righteousness in a positive way Not a sacred public square or a naked public square but a civil public square “The right to believe anything” does not mean “anything anyone believes is right”
The age of opportunity (2) Good News to the world based on Biblical truth : A social and moral order based on that truth will be good for people and for society, although it will not change people’s behaviour, make them right with God or give them eternal life. The work of Christ has accomplished God’s purpose to redeem His creation and people can become part of the new creation order by repentance and faith, leading to forgiveness of sins, imputed righteousness, changed behaviour and, ultimately, perfection.