Christian campaigners on moral and social issues such as global warming, gay adoption and freedom of expression urgently need to consider their motivations and methods of communications if they are to be taken seriously by secularised Britain.
That is the claim of Dr Jonathan Chaplain, recently appointed director of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, based in Cambridge.
In a speech at the inauguration of the Institute, held at the Divinity Faculty of the University of Cambridge, Dr Chaplin said the Church was struggling to know how people of Christian faith can most faithfully and effectively represent their political concerns in the context of a liberal democracy. A democracy, he added, which, on the one hand, has become so “pervasively secularised”, and yet, “now houses a ramifying pluralism of voices, both religious and secular”.
He said: “The Christian community urgently needs to discern in the pluralism of viewpoints now characterising our society, not only a demanding challenge to its historically inherited public status, but also an opportunity for new avenues of faithful public witness.”
Dr Chaplain claimed the current climate in which the Church now has to engage was summed up by Tony Blair in a speech last December. The Prime Minister stated: “Obedience to the rule of law, to democratic decision-making about who governs us, to freedom from violence and discrimination are not optional for British citizens. They are what being British is about. Being British carries rights. It also carries duties. And those duties take clear precedence over any cultural or religious practice”.
Dr Chaplain said: “The Prime Minister says ‘the obligations of citizenship â€˜take precedenceâ€™ over any religious practice’. The Prime Minister was heard to be implying that the political values of the state exercise an unqualified priority over the claims of any religion.”
Full story at Inspire Magazine.