(Telegraph) ‘Persecuted’ British Christians need to ‘grow up’, says former Archbishop Rowan Williams

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Lord Williams said religious believers should be wary of complaining about their treatment in the Western world, with those claiming they are "persecuted" making him "very uneasy".

He added the level of "not being taken very seriously" or "being made fun of" in Britain and the United States is not comparable to the "murderous hostility" faced by others in different parts of the world.

Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, he urged those who complain of ill-treatment for their beliefs in Britain to "grow up".

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan WilliamsAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

6 Comments
Posted August 16, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

Well, World Watch Monitor [Open Doors] categorises countries according to the scale, intensity and nature of persecution of Christians.  It looks at the following areas:
1. Private Life - freedom of thought and conscience in their own space.  Is there interference in the home or are people free in their own home to worship and witness even if unable to do so outside the home or is this proscribed at home as well?
2. Family Life - the pressures on Christians in the family where persecutors [normally family members backed up by cultural and legal sanction] will report, disown or kill in order to seek to restrict faith by whatever means they can.
3. Community Life - pressure on Christians seeking to live their faith in the community including seeking to spread it or influence their communities by what they say or do.
4. National Life - the ability of Christians to participate, witness and speak out in society and public life including restrictions from employers including the state, state persecution and legal restrictions.
5. Church Life - the limits placed on Christians to gather together even secretly to express their faith as a group.

These expressions of persecution are graded as follows according to their intensity in the country: Sparce, Moderate, Severe and Extreme Persecution. There is more on how this persecution is measured here.

Like domestic violence and abuse, persecution ranges along a scale of increasing severity, and getting away with low level abuse invariably leads to further escalation.

In the UK, we are seeing pastors arrested, employees restricted in wearing clothes and jewelry witnessing to their faith, Christians losing jobs for standing up for their beliefs, Christians sacked for witnessing to the faith to others; prayers outlawed in public settings, the prohibition of religious names and symbols and the government financing legal cases to restrict the rights of Christians.  Those who oppose this risk losing their freedom, their jobs and their homes.

The deterioration in the situation for Christians both in the UK and the US not to mention France and mainland Europe could not have been imaginable even 10 years ago, so quickly has it come upon us.  It is not good enough to claim that because the state is not [yet] executing Christians, that therefore Christians in the UK are not being persecuting and should “grow up”.

As usual it is a rather broad-brush, superficial, ill informed, ill thought through and unhelpful contribution from the Oysterbouche.

August 16, 9:54 am | [comment link]
2. CSeitz-ACI wrote:

What I thought was bizarre was the hair-trigger at TA. First comments assumed RDW was speaking of ‘persecuted Gays’ as too exaggerated in their claims.
This must be one of the most screwed-up moments ever in Church History.

August 16, 10:16 am | [comment link]
3. Militaris Artifex wrote:

Where was this chap’s firm guidance and leadership when he sat in the chair of Anselm and the questions of what marriage is (and isn’t) was the focus. Now that there is little personally at risk, it would seem his spine has stiffened and his resolve attained new heights.

I fear Lord Oystermouth has chosen a surprisingly accurate titular appellation.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

August 16, 11:12 am | [comment link]
4. New Reformation Advocate wrote:

Hmmm, while I agree (for once) with RW that many of us global north Christians need to stop whining and grow up, I would also agree with Pageantmaster and others above that this sort of public statement misses the point in many ways.  Religious liberty is in the process of being ominously restricted in North America, not to mention the UK, where the process is even more advanced. 

When it comes to that worrisome trend, George Carey gets it and Rowan Williams does not.

And yes, Dr. Seitz, I agree that this is a strange era indeed, one of the wierdest and wildest periods in church history.  Major transitions are often confusing, and we’re living through one of the most serious and far-reaching transitions in the whole two thousand year history of the Church: namely, the demise of the old Christendom social world that marked European culture for the last 1500 years or so, with the simultaneous rise of an aggressive pluralistic ideology as a rival worldview that is now dominant and deeply entrenched in the West.  Christianity is being shunted to the margins and is increasingly considered suspect by much of the de-Christianized population who perceive us as ignorant or prejudiced, and the institutional church as irrelevant at best, or at worst, a major obstacle to the progress of social justice.

Now granted, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment were also tumultuous periods that produced some strange and bewildering cross-currents, but the secularizing and relativizing trends in those earlier eras were largely confined to a small elite group of the most educated and privileged circles.  Today, the masses have bought in to the new regnant worldview, pervasive as it is in modern western education and especially the mass media.  We Christians lost control of public education and the main media channels long ago, and we’ve had a couple of generations now of westerners being relentlessly indoctrinated (literally) in the doctrines of Pluralism/Relativism (i.e., as isms, not just diversity as a social fact but as a supreme value in itself).

The Constantinian Era is truly over, and it’s not coming back, even if we double or triple the effectiveness of our evangelistic efforts.  The Post-Christendom Era is here, at least in the Global North.

But meanwhile, Global South Christianity has come of age and is taking over leadership of the Church worldwide, as the election of the first pope from the GS aptly symbolizes.  Only 60 years ago, in the halcyon “golden” age of the 1950’s in North America, it appeared that the so-called “Mainline” Churches had a lock on all the most prominent and influential spots in both Church and State.  It looked as if the Protestant “Mainline” would stay the mainline forever, with no serious rivals.  May how times have changed.

Today, the fundamental fact that all Christian leaders must face and take very seriously in the Global North is that we are obliged to face head on a most unpleasant reality:  You can no longer be simultaneously in the mainstream of the classical Christianity and the mainstream of the dominant culture.  We must all choose which of the two mainstreams we will live in and serve.  Just as you cannot serve God and Mammon, so today you cannot serve the Christian mainstream and the social mainstream, for the two are now utterly opposed to each other.  A strange new world indeed.  But a stern dilemma and hard choice that our ancient forbears of the pre-Imperial Church knew well in the Age of the Martyrs.  And it’s a momentous choice that our brothers and sisters in the Global South know all to well also.  We can draw inspiration and guidance from both sources.

What we can’t and mustn’t do is to deny the seriousness of the challenges we face.  And ultimately, that’s where I think Rowan Williams misses the point.  He’s right that real persecution hasn’t come to Britain yet, much less the US or Canada.  But it’s only a matter of time before it does.  Real persecution is coming, whether in the lifetime of my children or grandchildren.  And scolding Christian leaders for crying “The sky is falling!” won’t help bolster us and prepare us for the coming ordeal.

David Handy+

August 16, 12:03 pm | [comment link]
5. Cennydd13 wrote:

Well, it’s about time you spoke up, M’Lord!  What took you so long?

August 16, 3:16 pm | [comment link]
6. Militaris Artifex wrote:

Father Handy, I quite agree in general with your assessment of the situation. That said, being equally as ignorant as are we all of the time when Christ will return and of the time when we will depart this life, I think there are two probable future courses of humanity prior to His return. First, it may be correct to view this as the waning or disappearance of the Era of Christendom, or it may be that we are entering an interregnum between two (not necessarily identical) eras of Christendom.

It is not likely that I will survive the imminent waning, whether departing as a result of age/accident or of martyrdom. On the other hand, I don’t think it likely in either event that I will escape some persecution, fatal to the body or otherwise. But I, like you, foresee the day when there will be real persecution, and I agree that Oystermouth thinks that, perhaps, all will be well and in so thinking does (at least somewhat) miss the point. I pray that I am wrong and that, even if I am not, that the new Cantuar will not miss the point. I am reasonably confident that the Holy Father does not miss the point.

Pax et bonum,
Keith Töpfer

August 16, 3:45 pm | [comment link]
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