faith-minister
Freedom of Religion

Do we really need a faith minister for “fairies, goblins and imaginary friends”?

We live in an age of ever-increasing secularity, in which religious practice must be half-hidden and religious conviction often-denied. You have to excavate quite deep to discover the moral sources of modern culture: our laws and literature are imbued with the peace and love of Christ, but the common materialist really can’t be bothered with notions of self and identity which lie much beyond the narratives of relativism and concentric circles of hedonistic gratification. Historically, Britain was Christian – in practice, belief, affinity, affiliation, morality and ritual initiation. But now? More people pay touristy visits to chocolate-box churches than worship in them, and our law-making is increasingly antithetical to orthodoxies of salvation. O, you’re free to believe that only Jesus saves and that all others go to hell, but don’t, whatever you do, vocalise it in the street or, worse still, teach it in a school. That’s just extremism, hate, bigotry and a myriad of phobias.

Former faith minister Sayeeda Warsi wants to see that role reinstated at the heart of government: Theresa May has apparently downgraded it. “When I was the minister for faith there was a great catchphrase, they used to call me the minister for fairies, goblins and imaginary friends,” she told a garden party in Surrey. “And that was really an indication – along with the way in which we handled the Papal visit – of how unfortunately policy makers see faith.”

Some may recall the diplomatic incident of the Foreign Office papal visit memo, in which some FCO wag suggested that Pope Benedict XVI, during his visit, “could launch a range of branded condoms, visit an abortion clinic, bless a gay marriage and apologise for the Spanish Armada”. Very droll.

But it isn’t clear how a faith minister could deter or prevent such expressions of disrespect without offending the freedom of secular-humanists to pour scorn over whatever they want. Is the role simply to enforce common courtesy and propagate an ethos of mutual tolerance? Isn’t that a function of all political leaders?

The problem with the notion of a faith minister is that he or she would be charged with defending the role of faith in public life, as opposed to defending the Faith, which, for sure, is primarily the Queen’s job, but so also ought to be binding on Her Majesty’s ministers of state. Yet they have the mutually-exclusive rights of competing religions to defend, and multi-faith votes to win. And the moment your job is to defend faith as opposed to the Faith, you can’t hold any particular belief very strongly at all, for to do so would be to offend someone of faith somewhere. And God forbid that the Minister for Faith might offend anybody of faith. No, they can ‘do God’, and the government can ‘do God’, but only the fluffy, pink bits: all that nasty, judgmental, divisive stuff has to go.

Could or would the Faith Minister defend the right of Christians to preach publicly that ‘there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved‘ (Acts 4:12). Men? Good grief, would he or she defend the gender-exclusivity of patriarchy and orthodoxy? Would he or she support the freedom to express the belief that Mohammed was a false prophet or that Allah is not God? What about the freedom to uphold traditional marriage? What about the creed of the Satanists? Or the religious rights of Wiccans, witches and pagans? In an age of pervasive unbelief, would the Faith Minister defend the freedoms of non-faith adherence; the freedom to be simply spiritual; the freedom to believe whatever you want to believe, including Jedi Knights?

In which case, would the Faith Minister not actually be the Minister for Fairies, Goblins and Imaginary Friends?

If the purpose is to defend faiths – as it must be in an age of ethnic diversity, multi-faith pluralism and moral relativism – then the Faith Minister must be liberal, latitudinal and universalist in his or her own beliefs. After all, you can’t have a faith minister who inwardly discriminates, can you? How could a faith group possibly have confidence that the Faith Minister represents them in Cabinet if he or she really thinks their beliefs are childish nonsense and their leaders are deluded idolaters? Sure, the Minister could be a Muslim, but only one of Baroness Warsi’s liberal strand of ‘British Islam’, which, for many, isn’t particularly Islamic at all.

jesus-is-a-fagThe Faith Minister would have to defend the freedom to to believe in and express any and every christology, even when that belief offends against orthodoxy. ‘Jesus is a fag’? Well, it’s a view. You’re free to demur, but there’s no law against upsetting orthodox Christians.

The blasphemy laws in the UK were designed to protect the name of Christ, though since 1838 restricted to protect the tenets and beliefs of the Church of England. They belonged to an era when the Faith was the nexus of society, and to challenge or offend against that was considered a crime against the established order. Since the laws were not consistently upheld, they became otiose and were repealed. Is the Faith Minister some sort of compensatory guarantor of spiritual protection and residual religious feelings?

If this placard had said ‘Ganesh is a gay-boy’ or ‘Buddha is a bugger’, the Hindus and Buddhists might have raised an eyebrow, but, like the Christians, they would have been obliged to endure the offence. But if the placard had dared to say ‘Mohammed is a homo’ or ‘The Prophet is a puff’, Muslims would have been up in arms (some quite literally), and the strange creature carrying the placard would doubtless have been arrested for breach of the peace, or incitement.

When we lose the freedom to cause offence, we lose our freedom. In a post-Christian, pluralist, secularised culture, a faith minister would increasingly become a tool of fragmentation and atomisation, seeking to advocate for all and offend none, under the coercive narrative and rhetoric of community cohesion, which then becomes the overriding religious orthodoxy.

We don’t need a compartmentalised faith minister to remind ministers about the divine or to guard against offending the Pope: we need all government ministers to ensure that the refrains of religious liberty are woven throughout all policies and programmes of government. It is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England who defends the Faith, and it is under the aegis of that righteous governance that all others must be free to practise their religion or lack thereof. All beliefs are not equal. God forbid that the Faith Minister should doubt the existence of or denigrate those who believe in fairies, goblins and imaginary friends.

  • dannybhoy

    We don’t need a faith minister, we need the Church to minister the faith and make it clear what Christianity stands for..
    (Thanks for helping me with my computer btw. The eye jitters are settling down..)

  • Stig

    Interesting poster that! It says “IS”, not “WAS”, therefore acknowledging Jesus’ continuing presence in the world.

    • preacher

      And they say God hasn’t got a sense of humour eh ?

  • preacher

    How could any minister, irrespective of any belief, be expected to fill the role of ‘ Faith Minister ‘ ? The different teachings of even so called main line beliefs about the person of God & His requirements of mankind have led to at least one Christian to say ” If all religions are true, then none of them are ! “.
    Just as one could not employ someone as a ‘ Minister of Comparative Mathematics ‘ so the demands of the job would be impossible to fulfil without bias.
    Just as Maths can’t work if the rules are variable, Faith can only operate in the same way. There is really IMO no ultimate unification of all faiths possible, the only exception to this are the Old & New Testaments which work in synchronisation if viewed in comparison to Arithmetic & Mathematics.
    Thus I would conclude that the Church should be more forthright in presenting the Christian faith & the reasons for it’s teachings to all who will listen & those that are searching for the truth, rather than a palatable placebo. Whilst others who prefer the sugar pill are allowed the free will that God gave them to choose the flavour they prefer.
    Either way, the job of Faith Minister should be kicked into the long grass where it should stay until the Divine Gardener burns it with the rest of the rubbish collected over the years.

    • It should be a Minister of The Faith to ensure the continuity of Christian civilisation in new laws and legislation made here whilst tolerating all others as secondary. That would mean having to say no to some of their demands that were incompatible with Christianity.

  • mollysdad

    The strange creature carrying the placard would doubtless have been arrested for breach of the peace, or incitement, because of an official policy of Muslim privilege.

    Muslims come top in the pecking order. Then gays. Christians and Jews are in the basement.

    • Coniston

      Exactly. “[T]here’s no law against upsetting orthodox Christians.” But if you are so misguided as to upset Muslims……

  • Eustace

    What a load of egregious twaddle.

    There is no need for any kind of faith ministry at all. Faith is an entirely private matter and the sooner the legal fiction of the monarch being called “defender of the faith” is dropped, just as another legal fiction was abandoned in the early 19th century when the British monarch stopped calling himself “king of France”, the clearer the separation will be.

    Replace the crosses on the crown jewels with rose, thistle, shamrock and leek motifs, make the next coronation (if there has to be one) a secular affair carried out in Westminster Hall rather than the Abbey, boot the clergy out of the Lords and disestablish the Church and then you’ll have relegated religion to its rightful sphere.

    No need for a minister for fairies, goblins and imaginary friends then. We certainly get along very well without one in France. A junior assistant who works for the Interior ministry handles all relations of the state with religious sects and cults, including Christianity. Nothing more is needed.

    Mx May has exactly the right idea.

    • Dreadnaught

      Faith is not a private matter if you are Muslim.

      • Eustace

        Faith is a private matter for everyone. Some Muslims – and some Christians too – want to make it a public matter, but the state refuses to be drawn and just ignores their demands.

        If in the process of making those demands, a crime is committed, the perpetrator will be dealt with under the relevant laws.

        If Muslims want to make trouble, they’ll pay the same price that any common criminal pays for disturbing the peace.

        • Dreadnaught

          This is such a daydream. Muslims are making trouble just about anywhere they are in sufficient numbers to stymie immediate police response; such as in Sweden, Germany and the Muslim no go areas of France.

          • Eustace

            Islamophobes are making trouble just about everywhere too. Misrepresenting facts and making up stories as they go along with the express purpose of whipping up hatred against their Muslim neighbours.

            If a Muslim breaks a law, he’s dealt with as a common criminal. If a band of Muslims do the same, they’re dealt with in the same way that any band of miscreants is dealt with.

            Go bark your phobic loathing of Islam up someone else’s tree. Here it runs dangerously close to hate speech, and were I to do a “Jayne Ozanne” on you, you’d soon find yourself the subject of investigation for incitement to racial or religious hatred.

          • Dreadnaught

            And I thought you maybe had change from the childish ad homs. On yer bike lad.

          • dannybhoy

            Then I think you misunderstand the nature of Islam Eustace, No doubt that the majority want only a peaceful and secure life, but that’s going against what their faith teaches. A learned man like yourself should know that the newly formed and UN sanctioned State of Israel actually delivered the Jews living under the dominion of Islam and brought them back so that they could be free to be Jews once more.
            Would that the Christian West had shown the same resolve towards Christians in the same situation…

          • Eustace

            Most Christians “go against” what their faith teaches. How many Christians do you know who turn the other cheek, love their neighbours and withhold judgment? I’ve never met one.

            And that’s the whole point. Religions are not defined by their most extreme believers, but rather by the mass of moderates for whom faith is as much a cultural phenomenon as a philosophical ideal.

            Most Muslims want a peaceful and prosperous life no matter what radical Islamists might say about their obligation to kill the infidel. Most Muslims are a danger to no-one. Whipping up a frenzy of public opinion against them, which is exactly what blogs like this one try to do, is an act of provocation by one religion perpetrated against another. It is truly Islamophobic and needs to be called out.

          • dannybhoy

            In the world of nominal beliefs you are right. Lets just point out for example that no one is born a Christian, it is actually a choice that the individual makes -according to the Gospels.
            But as a religion, Christian denominations would say that they bring up their children to become Christians. The Catholic Church is probably the most dogmatic and insistent on this process.. As a result you have Christians and you have what Danny refers to as ‘Churchians.’
            And yes, some of us myself included, fail at times to manifest true Christian behaviour. (Like that French Catholic guy who lost it and decked the bloke …)
            Devout Jewish people want their kids to grow up to be observant, Muslims like wise and so on.
            There is a big difference between being devout about one’s faith, and purely nominal. Social pressure or expectations ensure most remain outwardly observant. The big difference though is that no one is born a Christian.

            “Whipping up a frenzy of public opinion against them, which is exactly what blogs like this one try to do, is an act of provocation by one religion perpetrated against another. It is truly Islamophobic and needs to be called out.”
            I can’t agree with you on this one. I think most people here try to distinguish between the majority of Muslims and devout extremists. We cannot escape from the truth that Islam does not accept that Judaism or Christianity are equally valid, and it does urge Muslims to make war on them, subjugate them and kill them. We cannot escape from the reality of Islamic terrorism, random killings, and unreasonable demands.

          • Inspector General

            What is it with you gay activist types?

            Probably not a day goes by in this world without some homosexual man murdered by Islam. But not much of a peep out of your people in protest at them, wherever they be, despite the fact that what holds good for Allah’s people in the Middle East must surely hold good in Britani. Oh no! In the West, Islam is still very much a minority so you clowns bestow upon them precious minority protection . And of course, that’s the same protection that allows your lot to march down the street waving that paedophile rainbow flag of yours and demand access to our schools. So, that’s alright then…and it leaves you with plenty of time to concentrate on rubbishing Christianity.

            Curious isn’t the word for it!

          • dannybhoy

            And incidents like these happening in Sweden may end up being repeated in the UK unless our government acts ….

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAdJhxPm_RA

        • Anton

          I agree with you about what the state of affairs should be. But it isn’t a level playing field.

    • You really ought to read that book the Explorer recommended for you over there living in France. Michel Houellebecq “Soumission”
      I’m not sure he’s tempting fate or not when he writes of France becoming an Islamic state. Read it and weep.

      • Eustace

        Houellebecq is a notorious FN sympathizer and extreme right wing fantasist. His writing is vulgar, trashy nonsense.

        One may weep when reading Houellebecq, but only from disbelief at the farfetched incoherence of his ideas and the underlying Islamophobia, aggression and hatred that fuel them.

        The nearest equivalent to him in the English speaking world would be David Icke. It doesn’t surprise me to see this kind of “literature” promoted on this blog given the propensity of those who comment here to believe in sprites, ghosts, gods and little green men. Such recommendations merely serve to highlight the mediocrity of conservative Christian intellects.

        • David Icke is not at all like Houellebecq! He’s not a miserable, melancholic, misogynist for a start, although he is slightly eccentric though.
          “Submission” has been compared and likened to “1984” and “Brave New World” by some intellectuals. His idea of the French Socialists joining forces with a version of the Muslim Brotherhood by 2022 and taking over in a form of inverse colonialism might not be all that far out.

          • Eustace

            Houellebecq and Icke’s tones are different, but both have an extremist point of view that sees conspiracy theories under every stone and global plots designed to dispossess the white working and middle classes of their “rightful” inheritance.

            Icke, being British and therefore more prone to hyperbole and New Age nonsense, appears to be the more extravagant of the two. But Houellebec’s work “explores” (if you can dignify it with the word) exactly the same themes of power elites, dispossession and enslavement.

            Both are populist demagogues trying to foment discontent for their own selfish ends.

            As a Christian you’re not really a part of Icke’s target demographic, but you’re certainly the kind of reader Houellebecq fishes for. And apparently you’ve swallowed his lure. Hook, line and sinker.

            I can’t say I’m surprised. His neo-con amalgams and oversimplifications are set against a make-believe dystopian plot calculated to appeal to the xenophobic English. His fantastical description of a France descending into chaos and Islamic dictatorship makes you shiver with Schadenfreude, doesn’t it? Serves us right for being so bloody arrogant, no?

            Arrogance! The standard accusation made by the British whenever anyone dares to disagree with them. Oh well, not our problem any more.

            No need to close the door on your way out. We’ll be happy to slam it shut behind you. Just hurry up and leave, why don’t you? What’s the hold-up? We’ve got things to be getting on with and your continuing presence is casting a gloom over us all. You don’t want to be here, so why won’t you leave? M. Juncker is right. Something is rotten in the state of Great Britain. So off you go before it infects us all.

          • It’s not Schadenfreude I’m shivering, it’s fear!
            It’s happening in London already in a way. We have a right pair of Muslim terrorist sympathisers as Mayor and his chosen Deputy who is a QC who takes on attacking our British police and security, and supports that dodgy terrorist PR movement CAGE.

            http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/09/14/londons-muslim-mayor-appoints-integration-deputy-worked-jihadi-john-apologists/

            http://www.breitbart.com/london/2016/09/16/londons-muslim-mayor-tells-u-s-audience-immigrants-shouldnt-assimilate/

          • Eustace

            How can you be afraid if you’re a Christian?

            Embrace the opportunity for martyrdom! Surely dying for the Lord will store up treasure in heaven for you. So what is there to be afraid of?

            Unless of course you’re just not all that confident about your salvation…

            Personally I think you’re just being a bit of a drama queen. No mayor of London would survive for more than a second in office if he started to back terrorist groups.

            But that’s a standard Christian tactic, isn’t it? Take the worst possible interpretation of an anodyne remark or event and spin it into a satanic plot.

            It’s these kinds of deeply dishonest scaremongering tactics that have lost you the respect and influence your religion once enjoyed.

            We all know a grandstanding demagogue when we see one. People just aren’t as naive as they were in the 30s. Well, most of us, at least.

            The proof? Sadiq Khan is now mayor of London despite the worst abuse Christian campaigners could throw at him.

            So you’ll just have to stay scared, won’t you. Not that I believe for a second tbat you really are.

          • Christians live for the Lord.

            Who are you calling a drama queen? That’s rich.
            I am worried, especially when Khan says “People shouldn’t have to drop their cultures and traditions when they arrive in our cities and countries”. So sharia law, FGM, anti-Semitism, the burkha, homophobia, growing muslim ghettoisation is all ok for the UK and London our Capital City that represents us around the world on the global stage. You can take the boy out of Pakistan, but you can’t take Pakistan out of the boy. He’ll have London reduced to a run down suburb of Rawalpindi!
            He wants Western values to be muslim values and that is dangerous.
            He’s a terrorist sympathiser and so is his deputy Matthew Ryder (nice British sounding name, but don’t be fooled) even more so.

    • Faith is not merely a private matter. It is the worldview that orders a life. By necessity, it must impinge on every area of life. Everyone has a worldview whether they are aware of it or not. Life’s thinking and actions are determined by it.

      Every person who operates in the public square has a worldview that will inevitable be expressed in the opinions they hold. Homosexuals, seem to believe that advocating various perceived homosexual ‘rights’ (for example, same sex marriage) belongs in the public square. They are promoting their worldview, their belief, their faith.

  • David

    The role of Faith Minster would be impossible to define and execute. If such a post were created, then I suspect that an appointment to it would be seen as a sort of political punishment.
    What we do need is two things.
    Firstly a government committed to return to us those degrees of freedom of speech that we have lost, as in the long term, no healthy democracy is possible without a high degree of free speech. To do that we need to roll back PC which closes down thought, debate and ultimately, if allowed to grow, democracy itself will shrink. Good things welcome free speech; only bad things fear it. On that basis, and given the strong, factual, excellent arguments available to defend and promote Christianity, a return to our former level of free speech could only assist the spread of the faith.
    Secondly we need the Church – all denominations that is – to preach, teach and uphold the full gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen, triumphant ! In the last thread some of us noted how Archbishop Welby seems prepared to ignore some of the Church’s traditional, Bible based teachings, in order, as he mistakenly sees it, to embrace more people. But with what is he embracing them – the truth or a half-truth ? This watering down of the gospel will not work. It is not how the Holy Spirit operates. One cannot create compromise between light and darkness, truth and error or salvation and damnation. This may not be a palatable fact for a relativistic secular world, but to succeed the Church must stand out as offering revealed Truth.

  • Dreadnaught

    The whole idea of creating a Faith Minister is worthy of Sir Humphrey himself. It is without doubt the Government’s response to brush a very big problem under the carpet. They know quite well that it is the presence of Islam that is entirely responsible for the panic they are in in realising they have created a monster they have no chance of controlling or influencing. They think they can buy themselves time (and votes) by appeasing this tribal fascist cult of murder and misogyny simply because they do not know what to do about it. It is hostile and alien to Democracy in its ideology and it proponents know or care little for the culture of its host nation. Islam has its feet under the tables of academia, the one directional Hate Laws and the levers of progressive and fundamental change in the character of the Nation.
    We have Blair and the Champagne socialists to blame for this cancer that has been wrought upon us and emboldened with rights dreampt up and endorsed by the anti-European Nation, European Union.
    Never more has Enoch’s ‘rivers of blood’ warning, loomed so close to becoming the reality.

    • dannybhoy

      You might enjoy reading “The people versus Muhammed” by JK Sheindlin. Availablr from Amazon, and there’s quite a few YouTube postings too,

  • Shadrach Fire

    ‘would doubtless have been arrested for breach of the peace, or incitement’. That statement is so true. Freedom to offend comes in different ways despite the law supposedly being equal to all.
    We must not be intimidated into giving greater protection to one group more than another. I get offended when I see the LGBT types cavorting in the street in their Gay Pride March but what can I do or say. Everyone except Christians it seems has been given special protection whereas in a Christian country it should be the other way round.

  • IanCad

    Faith Minister? HM The Queen and Justin Welby are perfectly equal to the task.

  • CliveM

    Do we need a faith minister? No.

    There are a few others we could add to the list, along with a significant chunk of MP’s, Lords, Councillors, MSP’s etc.

    We are one of the most Governed nations in the world, with the biggest Assembly in the western world (House of Lords), getting rid of our MEP’s is only the start.

    • Pubcrawler

      Wasn’t there supposed to be a ‘Bonfire of the Quangos’? Did I miss it?

      • CliveM

        I think it went ‘phut ‘.

        • Dominic Stockford

          Cutting 50 mp’s is a good start.

          • CliveM

            Yes, we now need to cull 300 odd Peers at least.

          • Old Nick

            Easy. Exclude all the peers created since 1997 and bring back the hereditaries (or rather give the hereditaries once more the right to writ of summons). Part of the strength of the Lords before Blair got his destructive hands on it was the little pockets of unlikely expertise among those who came to the House when their own subject came to the surface. The last Lord Kitchener was a scientist with ICI, the 7th Duke of Wellington was an architect and so forth.

          • CliveM

            There is a lot to be said for that as a proposal.

          • Pubcrawler

            I’d go back further, to the Life Peerages Act 1958.

          • Inspector General

            What about all peerages created before 1397…

          • Pubcrawler

            Mostly extinct now, certainly in their first creation, or absorbed into the Monarchy.

          • Old Nick

            Those surely survive because they were created by writ of summons rather than letters patent and so descend through the female line. And surely there are only about dozen left – very select.

          • Inspector General

            You learn daily here!

  • carl jacobs

    Gov’t offices are supposed to do something. What is a “Ministry of Faith” supposed to do? Manage “People of Faith”? In its own way, the whole idea is as condescending as the appellation “minister for fairies, goblins and imaginary friends”.

    Faith permeates or it does not. It can’t be segregated and isolated and hermetically sealed away. You can only isolate the people who carry it.

  • Anton

    We want less government, not more.

    • David

      Agreed !

  • Inspector General

    Stupid idea, and a dangerous one. Minister of Faith indeed! Is there nothing ‘the state’ doesn’t wish to control, regulate, order. Totalitarian regimes do that. We don’t.

    As we all know, the political correctness starts at conception. You can’t have a Christian in the post. That would never do. It would upset all the ethnics who came to this country because they apparently liked the idea of living in a Christian country. Next, a heterosexual in the post? Oh no! Not that! The gay lobby would be at us daily for that. A white person, gah! That’s just asking for trouble. A man. Seriously, you want a man there? What about the feminist movement. And then there’s the humanists, the secularists and the prominent atheists. They’ll be wanting some influence there. They won’t be left out. If they are, they’ll remind you about it, all the time.

    The only surprise is that Mrs May, an infinitely sensible woman, hasn’t already put the ghastly business in an empty spud sack along with the traditional house brick, and made her way to the Thames with the struggling thing inside…

  • len

    When a society rejects Christianity it doesn`t just become secular it becomes pagan as well. People need something to believe in so those that reject the God of the Bible don`t believe in nothing they believe in ‘anything.’..
    So man can become his/her own ‘god’ now and create a religion which lines up with the particular belief system they subscribe to.The media is obsessed with Goblins, Gnomes Trolls(we got our own one on Cranmer) and every sort of supernatural horror .’Harry Potter’ is a prime example of this unhealthy fascination with the occult although there are far worse.

    • David

      I don’t disagree with the general thrust of that Len, but if we say:-
      “When a society rejects Christianity it doesn’t just become secular it becomes pagan as well.”
      Well yes this is certainly what seems to be happening, but to say that confidently one must be able to point to previous examples, and to my knowledge, there aren’t any ……are there ?

      • Inspector General

        David. Paganism, or Wicca as its called today, is a valid religion, or so the adherents say. One inspected the thing the other day when “Gavin Frost, 86, British Wiccan author” appeared in Wiki deaths. Wicca is only followed by odd balls and silly types. So Len is wrong on this.

        • Old Nick

          The central problem with so-called modern paganism is that the core of classical paganism was blood sacrifice. Iamblichus (thank whom they came none more pagan) said sacrifice without prayer is pointless, prayer without sacrifice with ineffective – or something of the sort. The sort of ecological feminists who go in for so-called modern paganism would not sacrifice a fly. For which we should I suppose be thankful

          • Inspector General

            All paganism is to the Inspector is proof, if it were needed, that an arrogant beast that is the human is pre-programmed to accept a higher authority. Well done, our creator!

          • Old Nick

            As a sort of Praeparatio Evangelica, you mean.

          • Inspector General

            Er, yes, if that’s the right answer…

          • IanCad

            Abortion?

          • Old Nick

            Performed without prayer, one suspects.

        • Depends how precisely Len was using ‘pagan’. Sometimes it’s precise meaning of earth religion with nature-worship is meant. Most of the time, the broader meaning of any religion other than the Judeo-Christian/and Islamic is intended. Britian is awash with these alternative spiritualities.

          • Inspector General

            He was just being intellectually lazy or thick or a combination thereof…

      • Get yourself down to Glastonbury and Stonehenge at midsummer to meet the pagans.

      • len

        The RCC is a prime example…

      • len

        The UK is becoming a pagan country.

  • Inspector General

    The Ministry of Faith is to become part of the larger soon to be established Ministry of Truth. Who the first Minister of Truth will be is anyone’s guess. But as the first Minister of Faith was a non-Christian, non-white, wo-man, we can only guess that the successful incumbent in this newby will be a skilled liar and manipulator of the facts. Mrs May is going to find it hard to recruit anyone like that in Westminster…

    • carl jacobs

      Now a Ministry of Truth – that a Gov’t could find useful. You could name it the Supreme Secular Congregation of the British and Universal Inquisition.

      • len

        Sounds very’ E U’?. Probably got one already though ?

        • carl jacobs

          In Europe it would be called the “Committee for Public Safety”.

          • Inspector General

            Department B (Sects and Churches)[edit]

            Catholicism (B1)[77]

            Protestantism (B2)[77]

            Freemasons and other churches (B3)[77]

            Jewish affairs (B4)[77]

            (To borrow from a previous ‘EU’ setup, the GESTAPO..)

          • carl jacobs

            You might just have stated a credible organizational structure for this hypothetical “Ministry of Faith”. The Left has a habit of using benign names to hide malignant purposes.

          • Inspector General

            The difficult part is how the Reds are going to explain Islams absence from the list. They look to lose numerous inner city seats if they attempt to ‘monitor’ the religion of peace…

  • Dominic Stockford

    The moment that we know things are really bad is when such people as those in the photo stop bothering to be so offensive to Jesus Christ, and by extension, those who place their trust in His once for all sacrifice on the cross. while the truth offends them so much that they have to behave like this we know that the truth is biting into their hearts and consciences.

    Its why ‘some people’ insist on trolling posters on this site.

    • Inspector General

      Dangerous business females as depicted holding up banners proclaiming Jesus is a fag. Jesus being a revered prophet in Islam, and mocking Islam is not a good idea. Best to fear the thing as we do.

      • CliveM

        I’m not sure that was female.

        • Inspector General

          Keep this to yourself old fellow, but the Inspector too has grave suspicions…

          • CliveM

            I will now confess, I also hope it wasn’t.

          • Inspector General

            Eustace will know…

            By the way, he paid the Inspector the greatest compliment on a lower thread tonight…

            “I’ve met some crazed Christians in my time, but you’re certainly one of the most vicious and hateful.”

            As everyone witnesses, the Inspector loves to knock that bugger senseless on this site, but to get such earnest acknowledgement from him, that’s the topping on the cake! (Not a gay cake either…)

          • CliveM

            Maybe it is Eustace.

          • Pubcrawler

            Nah, the slogan’s too short and monosyllabic. He could never confine himself to three short words when he could use 50 sesquipedalian instead. It’s a French thing…

          • Eustace

            You rejoice in your vicious hatefulness, do you?

            Why am I not surprised?

            And as for “knocking me senseless”, you do realise that when you walk into my fist and lose consciousness that it’s you who’s been knocked senseless, don’t you?

            I wonder, do you have a drinking problem and are therefore used to passing out and waking up the next day with a sore head? That would explain how you can mistake your constant defeats for wonderful victories.

            If your head hurts from the constant abuse of alcohol, the painful after-effects of a knock-out punch must seem normal and unremarkable to you. And if the booze has erased all memory of the fight itself…

            I think I’m onto something here. It explains why you keep coming back for more punishment. You’re so wasted, you just don’t realise you lose every fight with everyone you ever engage with!

            Quick, someone lock the man up for his own safety. If he keeps on like this, the cumulative brain damage will put him in a comatose state.

    • David

      Wise words Dominic. Though there may be even fewer of us in the future in the west, that light, which we are privileged to try to hold, burns so brightly it will always be a source of irritation to those who oppose God.

  • IanCad

    The perfect response to this post of today is really stated best in HG’s last paragraph.

  • chefofsinners

    Why is there a minister for women, but no minister for men?
    A minister for faith, but not for unfaithfulness?
    Who could fill these posts? Ah, Mr Vaz…

  • bluedog

    Step forward Lord Williams, who proved it is possible to be a Christian prelate, an arch-druid and an advocate of sharia, all while wearing the same mitre.

    • Old Nick

      You know very well (I hope) that these days the ‘druid’ title is an acknowledgement of poetic rather than mantic prowess. And RW was not advocating sharia law for all of us, just advocating that the resolution of matters of private law between consenting Muslimsshould

      • Inspector General

        Nick. He should have kept his neck out of non Christian people’s way of doing things…

        • Old Nick

          I think he was trying to ensure that there remained a place for religion in public life and that it did not become ‘merely a private matter’ on the French/ US model (which means of course the Establishment of Lowest Common Denominator Secularism).

      • Anton

        RW was not advocating sharia law for all of us, just advocating that the resolution of matters of private law between consenting Muslims done on the basis of Sharia should be given some sort of recognition.

        You are correct. But why was an Archbishop of the Established church calling for that? Any set of parties should be – and is – free to make private arrangements that do not violate criminal law, but must still retain access to the same civil law as everybody else. With his comments Rowan Williams spoke against one of the scriptures he is meant to promote: Christ’s warning that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:24).

      • bluedog

        ‘…these days the ‘druid’ title is an acknowledgement of poetic rather than mantic prowess.’

        No longer slaughtering goats and virgins with stone knives in the light of the rising sun? One had assumed that Lord Williams was advocating halal druidism but is happy to be corrected.

  • ‘When we lose the freedom to cause offence, we lose our freedom’.

    Excellent.

    • Mike Stallard

      I got chucked off Conservative Home for saying something foul about gay marriage.
      I got chucked off Labour List for writing Conservative stuff on Conservative Home (they checked!)
      I got moderated out of John Redwood’s blog for writing a rude word.
      As the article above makes crystal clear, there are a lot of things that you cannot say today – and, for us oldsters, they were once common currency. Meanwhile words and ideas that were once taboo are now quite normal – even in the mouths of ladies!
      Have you got a light?
      One for the road?

      • James60498 .

        Depends on your definition of lady.

  • David

    It’s rare for topics on this site to achieve a near unanimity.

    • Anton

      O No It Isnt

  • Stephen Milroy

    You can write Jesus is a fag if you want. The idea that it doesn’t make you a Till Wednesday At Twelve (and not good without God) I reject…

  • Stephen Milroy

    I like the Judas Priest cover on the left half BTW :). I imagine the track ‘hard as iron’ was in your mind when you chose it.

  • Joseph Lonsdale

    An interesting and thought provoking article. God doesn’t actually need to be defended. Christians are often their own worst enemies allowing, and sometimes promoting gross distortions of what the gospel is. No wonder we get ridiculed and criticised but, we arent’ perfect either.Christianity actually teaches us that to be taunted, marginalised is quite normal and to be expected, and yes, really persecuted, although that’s not really happening in this country to a great extent – yet, although ask a Syrian Christian who has fled ISIS and that is the real deal!

  • Albert

    The irony is that according to Catholic teaching, the word “faith” cannot be applied to non-biblical religions. As Dominus Iesus puts it:

    The obedience of faith implies acceptance of the truth of Christ’s revelation, guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself:17 “Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed”.18 Faith, therefore, as “a gift of God” and as “a supernatural virtue infused by him”,19 involves a dual adherence: to God who reveals and to the truth which he reveals, out of the trust which one has in him who speaks. Thus, “we must believe in no one but God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”.20

    For this reason, the distinction between theological faith and belief in the other religions, must be firmly held. If faith is the acceptance in grace of revealed truth, which “makes it possible to penetrate the mystery in a way that allows us to understand it coherently”,21 then belief, in the other religions, is that sum of experience and thought that constitutes the human treasury of wisdom and religious aspiration, which man in his search for truth has conceived and acted upon in his relationship to God and the Absolute.

    • Anton

      Yet India is full of people who have faith in Hindu deities. Whether or not one agrees with them is not the point.

      • Albert

        But then, from a Catholic point of view, that isn’t faith.

        • carl jacobs

          Men exercise faith by nature. God gives faith in Christ. Faith by itself is anthropocentric. God supplies the correct object of faith. All else is idolatry.

          • Albert

            Men certainly believe in things by nature, but is believing in something false “faith”?

          • IanCad

            Yes! Ever talked to a student?

          • Old Nick

            I am no Hebraist, but Greek pistis and Latin fides have more the sense of ‘trust’ or faith in the sense of “commercial faith”. If a Mithraist were to say that he had faith in Mithras (who is a god particularly concerned with oaths and fair dealing) it would mean not the acceptance of a series of propositions, but trusting that Mithras will see him right. I choose Mithras deliberately because there does seem to that sense of “it’s a deal” about Mithraism (e.g. the dexiosis/ dextrarum junctio – or, in technical language, shaking hands – depicted as occurring between Sol and Mithras). I do not think I have ever come across fides as involving consent to a proposition or creed in pre-Christian Latin. There is the sense that fides is a covenant between men and gods – so that gods can be called on for protection by being asked to keep their fides, rather as in the old days the Proctors at Oxford could call on any passing MA to “Siste per fidem” if they needed help with rowdy undergraduates.

          • Pubcrawler

            “fides is a covenant between men and gods – so that gods can be called on for protection by being asked to keep their fides,”

            Yes, that is the big difference: between a reciprocal do ut des model and a unilateral charis.

            PS: I see that Wikipedia’s Glossary of ancient Roman religion doesn’t even contain an entry for fides.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glossary_of_ancient_Roman_religion

          • Anton

            What about elpis in Greek?

          • Old Nick

            hope

          • Pubcrawler

            Here’s Strong

            http://biblehub.com/str/greek/1680.htm

            None of the citations for Classical Greek in LSJ seem to me to have any specific religious connotations, it’s just a general more or less strong confidence in a present or future state of affairs coming to pass.

          • Old Nick

            One big difference. The other is credal content. No assent to propositions is required by the pagan Gods, you just need to go on doing the right thing – like adding petrol to your care if you want it to keep firing on all cylinders.

          • Pubcrawler

            Agreed. Though is there any credal aspect to mystery cults? I’m a bit rusty on this. And I suppose, being mysteries, evidence is scarce.

          • Old Nick

            We simply do not know. I have a friend who wrote an article trying to tease a Mithraic theology out of the Emperor Julian’s Hymn to the Sun, but it was not very convincing because Julian and his style of paganism are typical of no one but himself. Similarly R. Turcan’s Mithras Platonicus shows that some philosophers could make use of Mithraic lore but does not show that there was a philosophical content or an intellectual position at the core of Mithraic adherence (unlike Christianity where reciting the baptismal Creed you had learned during catechesis – like RCIA – was the thing you did immediately after baptism). Of course philosophers had ideas but they had no distinctive religious practice. This is actually exactly what Lactantius (Christian apologist and tutor to Constantine’s son) thought was distinctive about Christianity: philosophers had ideas but were old and grey before they could put them into practice, the pagan public religion had lots of practices but if you asked ‘what mean ye by these rites ?’ you got silly stories about Jupiter rogering a cow and so forth. Where will you find rational religion and practical philosophy, Lactantius asks. Only in Christianity are these two separate sides of life joined together (Institutes IV, 2-4).

        • Anton

          Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1 and applies equally to Hindus and their pagan deities. Is Rome trying to rewrite the dictionary, or merely differing from Christ?

          • Albert

            I’m staggered to think you would apply Hebrews 11.1 to pagan deities.

            Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

            Ἕστιν δὲ πίστις ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων.

            The key word here is “substance”. By faith we have the substance or reality of what we hope for. But idols have no substance (1 Cor.10.19). Therefore, those who believe in idols do not have the substance of the things they hope and thus do not have faith.

            Now here’s an interesting question which I cannot answer: does the Bible ever use the word “faith” for belief in idols?

          • Anton

            Yes, that’s an interesting question, involving Hebrew as well as Greek. Christians such as you and me are well aware that we have the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. But pagans would insist the same, of course. If you dispute that they place faith in pagan deities then you lose a necessary word from your dictionary; what word would you use in its place for the inner relation of a pagan to his god?

          • Albert

            I do not doubt that they believe that they have the substance of their deity. But I also do not doubt that you and I both believe that they don’t. The issue then, is not the subjective experience, but what the objective reality is. And the objective reality is that these deities have no substance and so they who believe in them do not have faith.

            As for the words to be used of non-biblical religions, I would say “believe”, “belief” or “trust” and keep the word “faith” for the proper response to the revelation of the living God. I think that this would be borne out by how scripture uses the terms.

          • Anton

            I would say that they put their faith in something futile. The word study is certainly worth doing. Hebrew has (at least) one word for God, meaning the Creator/Covenant-maker, and also a generic word for ‘god’ that is used in relation to the pagans who lived around ancient Israel’s borders. Perhaps we shall find something similar regarding words for faith, where English has a single word.

          • Albert

            We need a good Hebraist to help us!

          • Anton

            Our Uncle in Brazil?

          • Rhoda

            This article discusses Hebrew words for faith and belief;
            http://internetbiblecollege.net/lessons/hebrew%20words%20for%20faith.htm

          • Albert

            Thank you Rhoda. The interesting thing now would be to see which of these words gets used of idols. I can see that Batah does, since it means “trust in, trust or rely upon”. But Batah appears to be less than the full idea of faith such as found in Aman which means:

            to be certain about God and His character, unlimited power, wisdom and promises.

            · to totally trust God.

            · to be faithful or loyal to God just as a loving husband is to his wife. Such a husband ignores the adulterous suggestions of other unfaithful women.

            · and to continue to rely on God no matter what the problem or circumstance.

            Aman and not Batah is also the word for key expressions of faith like And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15.16)

            So I suspect that the hesitation about using “faith” for non-biblical religions is well grounded in the OT language.

          • Pubcrawler

            “does the Bible ever use the word “faith” for belief in idols?”

            A quick skim of Strong’s Concordance suggests not.

          • Albert

            Thank you Pubrawler, I reckoned that that would be the case, and just from passages I could think of, it seemed to point that way.

          • Pubcrawler

            Skimming for εἴδωλον, it looks like idols are things that are sacrificed to and worshipped, not believed in. Which I would kind of expect, because Greek religion was like that (see, e.g., Plato’s Euthyphro).

            (Note: εἴδωλον seems to be used not for ‘graven image’ specifically but false/pagan god(s) in general.)

        • Old Nick

          I have always rather felt that Newman’s notion of indefectibility of certitude has a certain affinity with the Snark’s “What I tell you three times is true”. But then the Snark was a Boojum you see.
          That said, the Collect for Trinity Sunday must be one of the finest prayers ever written.

          • Albert

            I can’t remember what Newman’s notion of indefectibility of certitude is, TBH!

          • Old Nick

            Oh roughly what you say about ‘real’ faith.

          • Albert

            Then I think your previous comment is wrong. Real faith is certain not because of the conviction of the believer, but by the authority of the author of that faith.

          • Old Nick

            Quite – and why accept that authority: “Jesus loves this I know, ‘Coz the Bible tells me so”. It reminds me of a highly entertaining encounter I once witnessed at Berkeley (a very secular campus) where an Evangelical fundamentalist was preaching opposite a Muslim ditto, both punching their respective books and assuring each other that if they believed what was in the other book they would go to Hell. The students wandered past in a mist of marijuana. Which does not mean I lack faith – even Eustace has faith, presumably in his diamonds or other family jewels – but I think of it more as like riding a bicycle than being a monolith on a pedestal.

          • Albert

            It sounds like you are a philosopher! I think, for the reasons you give, the Church is wise to restrict the term “faith” to the meaning I gave at the beginning.

          • Old Nick

            No a mere historian. [Do you know the definition of a sociologist ? One who is not clever enough to be a philosopher nor diligent enough to be an historian].

  • Mike Stallard

    As a practising Catholic, I get a great deal of help from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. As part of my devotional reading, I am using the Koran in English but starting from the Meccan Surats at the beck of the book. Personally I do not find Indian stuff does it for me – but am prepared to admit that it is very old and venerable. And fun! I am fascinated by Chinese I Ching and Tao too. But I only know of them through books, not life.
    As a practising gourmand, I eat asparagus grown locally with fresh butter. And local vegetables too, all in season. Washed down with a nice Australian wine. I very much enjoy red meat. Sometimes I go vegetarian with cauli cheese. At other times, I have a nice Indian curry. Rendang from Singapore and Asia is good to eat as well. To be honest, I find Pho rather disappointing though.