Politico-religious author ‘Cranmer’ has blogged today about the Prince of Wales’ visit to London’s Melkite Greek Catholic parish, based at St Barnabas Church in Pimlico, where a Coptic Orthodox Bishop and Syriac Archbishop were in attendance. The Prince spoke of his own faith, his despair at the appalling plight of Christians in the Middle-East and his hope during this season of Advent.
And then came this nugget of theo-political awareness:
“It is so vitally important, in this season of Advent and throughout the year, that Christians in this country and elsewhere, who enjoy the rights of freedom of worship and freedom of expression, do not take those rights for granted; and that we remember, and do what we can to support, our fellow Christians for whom the denial of such rights has had such profound and painful consequences.”
Nuggety, because the Prince of Wales has gone further in this speech than many politicians and church leaders currently dare. Most will talk effusively of inter-religious tolerance and the imperative of freedom of worship, but very few these days will defend Christians’ freedom of expression, i.e., freedom of religion; the freedom to manifest their faith in the public space; to walk in spirit and in truth; to propagate the Christian faith and witness to Christ in the world.
Cranmer refers to the outstanding work of Christian Concern supporting/fighting in the courts on behalf of many individuals persecuted in Britain because of their faith at work or in public:
Freedom of worship and freedom of expression are foundational British liberties, currently besieged (if not nullified and negated) by ascendant and increasingly frequent appeals to ‘religious hatred’. By exhorting British Christians to guard these hard-won liberties, the Prince of Wales shows that he is patently aware of their incremental erosion – not least because they aren’t included among the Government’s rather fuzzy notion of ‘British values‘. We supplant religious freedom with statist tolerance, and exchange public theology for mandatory respect, at our peril.
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