Justin Welby Cinnamon Network
Mission

Welby: £3 billion worth of church social action is proof of God's power

 

Christians are good at telling stories but rubbish with numbers.

This was one of the key observations at last night’s Cinnamon Faith Action Audit Report launch which presented the biggest ever survey measuring the extent of church social action work in this country. During the event Ruth Gledhill, the Times Religion Correspondent from 1987 until last year, spoke of journalists’ love for numbers and statistics which so easily can be used to fuel controversy and create headlines.

Throughout her time at the paper, the numbers that would most frequently appear in relation to the Church were the latest attendance figures, which year on year would present further decline and give the impression that the Church in the UK was gradually crawling closer to the edge of the cliff of extinction. Consequently, when the churches made it into the papers, it was usually centred on death and the loss of social significance. Cynicism, as Gledhill explained, was a natural attitude towards the Church.

She said that one solution to the cycle of negativity is the sort of news that this report from Cinnamon Network brings. The organisation’s purpose is to serve the nation by making it as easy as possible for local churches to help those most in need in their communities. This is done through advice and the distribution of government-funded micro-grants to churches. These start-up funds, usually in the region of £2,000, are used to help set up social action projects based on a franchise model. Cinnamon Network has a current portfolio of 25 different projects which have been founded by different churches and organisations, and have proven to be successfully adaptable in different local communities. These include the well-established Trussell Trust foodbanks, Street Pastors and debt counselling by Christians Against Poverty, along with many others including mentoring for young people, the unemployed and ex-offenders leaving prison. 3,500 churches now lead one of these projects with 500 having been added in the last year. The success rate is high, too, with 97 per cent continuing beyond their first year.

Now in only its fifth year of existence, Cinnamon Network has sought to undertake an audit to begin to establish the extent of the work of the 60,000 churches and other faith groups across the whole of the UK and the impact they are having. Assessing church social action is a near impossible job, but at the start of this year a sizable body of evidence was collected. 4,440 churches were invited to take part of which 2,110 responded; and more detailed audits were carried out across 57 cities, towns, and villages in both urban and rural areas looking at the work of all faith groups. This sample size is far in excess of the average opinion polls during the run-up to this month’s General Election, and the findings deserve to be treated with a good deal of respect and credibility.

These are the type of statistics that Ruth Gledhill was desperately wanting to use to make headlines. The survey reveals that the time alone given exclusively by those audited churches and other faith groups through social action projects is worth over £200 million a year.

The report also calculates that if 47.5 per cent (the same percentage that completed the survey) of the 60,000+ faith groups in the UK delivered what the Cinnamon Faith Action Audits’ responding groups do, this would mean that, collectively, the faith sector annually delivers an incredible 220,000 social action projects, by approximately 125,000 paid staff and 1,910,500 volunteers supporting 47 million beneficiaries. Even if some beneficiaries are in receipt of more than one service, as was acknowledged at the report launch, these are still incredible numbers. The value of this work is over £3 billion a year. And this amount only includes volunteer and staff time. If knock-on benefits to communities and use of buildings and other physical resources are taken into account, the figure would be pushed considerably higher.

The point of producing these figures is not to boast, but to reveal the extent to which the Church is fulfilling its calling to serve everyone it comes into contact with. No longer can government, local authorities, secularist groups or anyone else claim that the Church or the Christian faith is irrelevant in this day and age.

Justin Welby, who has been a long-term supporter of the Cinnamon Network, expanded on this during his keynote speech. He talked of churches serving God in the most extraordinary way. This has nothing to do with big names or personalities driving the movement; just ordinary local people who are fired up by the presence of God in their lives, compelling them to love others. He drew on a quote by President Harry Truman to make the point: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”

Since 2008, society’s idols of materialism and wealth have been toppled by the recession, but the eternal values found at the cross have not, the Archbishop affirmed. The Church is now filling the gaps that have opened up and will continue to do so as long as there are people who need loving and their dignity preserving.

++Justin went on to say that according to a YouGov poll in 2013, 41 per cent of 18-24 year olds believed that religion is more often the cause of evil in the world, compared to 14 per cent who believed it was a cause for good. This report laid the truth bare, proving that Christianity is not mere ‘do goodery’ but far deeper. Jesus was given the title ‘Emmanuel’, which means ‘God with us’. God is not distant, but knows us by name. When someone remembers our name rather than treating us as a number to be processed, our dignity is restored.

Faith is a driver that, through the life, death and sacrifice of Jesus, along with the hope of His resurrection, gives us strength to lay our lives down for others. Such self-sacrifice is the antithesis of what our self-obsessed society encourages us to do. The Christian faith compels us to make the commitment to be with other people in their place of need, as Jesus sets out in the parable of the sheep and the goats.

There is no doubt in Justin Welby’s mind that the hope which the churches are demonstrating through their work is a gracious move of God. This report is bringing the good news that God’s power is alive in His Church, and that faith motivated by His love is undeniably a force for good in our society. These numbers deserve to be acknowledged and make the headlines, but it is the faith behind them that truly has the greatest power to change lives.

  • Mike Stallard

    Extremely interesting. We have a centre for anyone who cares to walk in. the English down and outs actually go to the Sally Army just opposite, so we have been getting a complete splay of immigrants over the last 11 years.
    What has happened is that what started out as a loving, caring and feeding Church outreach has morphed, very slowly, into a State Sponsored clean up. We now have Slimmers World (who pay), we also have a paid up Team of helpers who all speak various languages and who are trained to listen and smile. We have various different things like Rape Crisis. There is Youth Appraisal Board Meeting. The Director has had to turn from a brave, courageous champion of the oppressed into a fund raiser.
    And the Church which founded the project has more or less withdrawn.

  • Watchman

    In what way does any of this fulfill the purpose of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The church seems to have been drawn into worshipping the god of this world: the materialism of the present age. I do not recall Jesus giving handouts to anyone but dealing primarily with their spiritual needs and through His healing power, their physical needs. The world is only too happy to see the church tinkering in the shadows with the self congratulatory air that their physical largesse affords. In what way does this generosity announce the Kingdom of God and salvation through the Blood of Jesus: street pastors seem to have been silenced before they are allowed to speak about the reason for their activities and in what way do food banks announce that salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus is what their customers really need. Please do not tell me that through all this people are supposed to guest what Jesus’ mission was. The church is dying because it has lost sight of the purpose for which it exists. May it rest in peace.

    • sarky

      You do not recall jesus giving handouts?

      Feeding of the five thousand?

      • Watchman

        Sarky, I am going to ignore you vexatious, childish and silly comments from now on. You can answer the question yourself by reading the whole passage and taking note of the context. This was not a handout but a demonstration of His Power.

        • CliveM

          I don’t think Sarky’s point was particularly vexatious. And the feeding of the 5000 wasn’t simply about power. It was also about love.

          • Watchman

            Clive, please read your bible. Jesus was reacting to the disciples concern that the people, who had come to listen to Jesus, didn’t have any food. They were not poor or looking for handouts but were obviously anxious to listen to the Master. He fed them because he could do so supernaturally. It was not planned or organised or as the result of a committee saying that they should demonstrate their faith if they fed the self proclaimed poor; it was a spontaneous act of compassion with God Himself making the provision. This is not the same as “social action” which falsely claims that it is what the gospel requires.

          • sarky

            Still a handout!

          • CliveM

            I did read my bible. The passage starts off by saying the Jesus had compassion for them and healed the sick, even though he had tried to get away from them. He was responding to need, because of love, not through a desire to prove his power. Indeed the whole passage is about how Jesus responded to need, putting these people first even though what he wanted was rest and peace.

            The bible from the Old Testament onwards is full of passages highlighting the need for social concern by the people of God.

            Look at what he says in Marks Gospel.

            In addition whilst he warns of boastfulness in giving to the needy, it is clear that the giving wasn’t an issue and was the right thing to do. Also note he doesn’t limit ‘the needy’ to those like us or those in the Church. It was all.

          • Watchman

            Clive, you are falling into Satan’s trap of deception that you are fulfilling the gospel by meeting the temporal needs of people when the vast majority of people have much more pressing spiritual needs. Furthermore, you are meeting wants rather than needs in the majority of “social action” projects. If you have a day centre do you meet only social needs (whatever they are) or do you attempt to meet spiritual (not emotional!) needs by telling them that the Blood of Jesus has paid for their sin and that they need to repent. If not, why not; that’s the Great Commission.

          • CliveM

            Who’s denying the great commission? Who is denying the need to proclaim the Gospel? I am arguing that you need to embrace the whole of Christ’s teaching, the whole of the Bible, which addresses both the social as well as the personal.

            James addresses this point very clearly.

          • Watchman

            You’ll have to give me references, your last one was a dud. Embracing th whole teaching does not include providing the wants of an avaricious society where the only real poverty is spiritual one. Don’t you realise that the more you give the more they’ll want – that’s the spirit of the age- you will be taken for a mug with your main purpose going unfulfilled!

        • sarky

          Still a handout though, demonstration of power or not.

          • Watchman

            Please read my response to your fan Clive.

    • Malcolm Smith

      If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit. So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. (James 2: 16-17)

      • Watchman

        Agreed, Malcolm, but you are ignoring the context of “if a brother or sister”. James was addressing the church about family matters: their brothers and sisters in Christ. Their primary concern was bringing people into the kingdom in order that they become part of the family.

  • Philip___

    I wonder if this might reflect the confusion there seems to me to be sometimes on this site about what is the focus of the commission Christ has given the church. That commission is to preach the Gospel of “repentance and forgiveness of sins” (Luke 24:47). Of course preaching this Gospel might not impress the world as much as works that focus on our material concerns. But the Kingdom of God (His rule) is extended in this world by the preaching of the Gospel of “repentance and forgiveness of sins” as this Gospel calls individuals to submit to the rule of Christ. Then they learn to bring their whole lives, such as finances, under His rule. Some
    social action projects seem to try to get people to live Kingdom principles without the Gospel.

    Of course in the meantime, Christian disciples are to be salt and light, using what skills they have to improve the lives of others around them, be better employees, parents and so on. Slavery was abolished, so I understand, because Wilberforce’s Christian faith led him to use his place in politics to combat such injustice.

    And I think there may be a misunderstanding of the parable of the sheep and goats. Because Jesus talks of doing the good things for the “least of these brothers and sisters of mine” (NIV) I think that is more likely to mean Christian believers who’re born again into His family so have the same Heavenly Father. On this understanding, it’s a matter of how we react to His needy followers that demonstrates true faith.

  • Johnny Rottenborough

    He talked of churches serving God in the most extraordinary way

    It is indeed extraordinary that churches believe they are serving God by allowing their buildings to be taken over by a religion that despises Christianity. The churches know full well that, when Islam and Christianity share the same territory, Christians suffer, and yet they continue to aid the enemy. The churches even invented the sin of racism—a sin unknown to Christianity until it became necessary to make white Christian countries less white and less Christian—as their contribution to stifling opposition to the Islamization of the West.

    True Christians, ‘fired up by the presence of God’, would not betray their faith, their people and Christ by condemning future generations to persecution in a Muslim Europe. At this critical time for Christianity, we get Welby and his keynote speeches.

    • Ivan M

      Yes, there is always the possibility that some of their funds for their “good works” come from rent or sales to the same section of the Muzzies, who made said “good works” necessary in the first place. Much the same as goes on in the Catholic Church.

    • Inspector General

      Hmmm. The church ‘invented the sin of racism’. Did it now?

      Now racism is dear to the Inspector’s heart, JR. Well, the understanding of how the different races work, that is, which the unforgiving label racism. It certainly didn’t invent the sin when the missionaries went out to civilise the African savage. A noble work that sadly continues to this day. No sir, one must disagree with you. The sin is a purely secular invention. Brought to us by those without the Christian understanding that God created the nations, and he most certainly did not create them the same…

      • Johnny Rottenborough

        @ Inspector General—One must agree with you. My argument is that if the churches had been led by true Christians these last 60 and more years, the churches would not have collaborated in the Islamization of Europe. The churches would not have been able to prevent Muslim immigration but what an inspiration it would have been if all the denominations had taken the side of Christ and people. One expects to be betrayed by politicians but it is sickening to be betrayed by so-called men of God.

        • Inspector General

          JR. it is our damnable lot that those men of God we now have in positions of influence, bishops, were among the many youth corrupted by the social degeneration that took place in this country in the 1960s and 1970s. We know this to be true after observing the Lords Spiritual disgusting silence and abstentions during the SSM unfortunate. Having said that, we must exclude the RCC from that criticism, a far more regimented concern.

          Don’t give up on the established church just yet. Those on the sharp end now are necessarily unheard as of present, but will come to the fore as time sweeps the aforementioned away. One’s only concern is that under the new terms to propel womankind into the senior offices, the Marxist priests that hold dear to their dying ideals will continue to thwart any new understanding to their last.

  • IanCad

    ” £3 billion worth of church social action is proof of God’s power”
    That He who made the Heavens, the Earth and all that is in, is reduced by those claiming His existence is contingent on a few shekels, made me huff and puff and snort.
    Then I read the post.
    And the final paragraph.
    Thank you Gillan.
    May God continue to succour and bless all those involved in His work.

  • magnolia

    And how much does the Charismatic movement, and the Healing ministry of the church including “Healing on the Streets” save the NHS and the taxpayer while we are about it? Phenomenal amounts I should imagine, well into the billions. Who could begin to calculate?

    • sarky

      Hmmm probably about £0 I reckon. However, if this ‘healing’ could grow back an amputated limb, the NHS could save a few quid.

      • magnolia

        That has become a hackneyed response from those who doubt. It’s just designed to move the debate on from healings that do occur (awkward subject) to putative healings that haven’t. And because such healings are rare, probably only one or two can be quoted, and sometimes from non modern Western societies with their expectations of burden of proof, the few stories are then pounced upon, mocked, dissected, distorted, and a series of next to impossible proofs of isolated occurrences demanded.

        It is not an honourable debating technique, frankly.

        And your reckoning is ridiculous.

        • sarky

          How do you know they were healings?

          • magnolia

            I don’t wish to put personal details into cyberspace- with respect. I felt the warm sensation that many feel, like concentric moving circles. Then a decade of no longer needing medical help with that erstwhile several-year- weakness in the musculature. That will have to suffice!

            That was via an orthodox Christian with a gift of healing. Many have had similar experiences.

          • sarky

            Apologies, I wasn’t asking for details just what made you think it was healing? It’s just there is zero medical evidence for it.

          • magnolia

            What is your evidence that there is no medical evidence for it? Have you done a tour of hospitals in the UK as a researcher and asked to see their files labelled “unexplained or spontaneous healing” and correlated that with those who sought healing or were prayed for by others?

            Have you looked for certifiable (I am not interested in potential set-ups) sceptics who went for healing and changed their scepticism when they received it?

            Have you looked for certifiably disabled people who went for Christian healing and received it? Have you looked for people who lost benefits through doing so, like wheelchairs, disabled parking permits, financial benefits, the ability to compete in their chosen sport, and so on?

            Have you been injured and sought out prayer from people who believe in it? Like a healing on the streets team?

            Or are you maybe just repeating what you have heard said by another, without having checked it out for yourself?

          • sarky

            This is something I’ve looked into quite seriously and I’ve read many many studies. The evidence is just not there.
            As for Street teams, many have been banned from saying they can heal through god (just Google it)

          • A 100 men a week commit suicide in Britain. How many are Christian? The rates of depression across all age groups, and noticeably young people, is sky rocketing, as is the cost of drugging people back to “happiness”. Believe in God has tangible benefits – fact.

          • sarky

            Unless of course they are men who have committed suicide because they have had to hide and suppress their sexuality because of god and the church.

          • Er, no, it isn’t a problem specific to homosexual men.

          • magnolia

            Militant b minded atheists are always trying to become authoritarian dictators and suppress free speech. Where is the news in that? Of course they can produce doctored statistics to back up their totalitarian suppression, crushing of personal freedom, free speech., and moving on to free thought. So could Goebbels. Where is the news in that?

            Is is not atrocious enough having civic freedoms taken away from us and narrow-minded mechanistic views of reality enforced through these machine-like unimaginative idiots without you supporting them in their jackbooted gauleitism?

            You are free to believe these evil totalitarian free-speech crushing people in the service of darkness, They are anathema to those of us who are libertarian Christians who value free speech, free press, and free citizens, and who know that the body is more than a machine, something you have apparently failed as yet to realise.

            I told you the truth. You choose not to believe me, though the consequences of lying about such a matter are remarkably grave for a Christian. I am not at all delighted by that as I was loathe to share personal details anyway. You prefer to believe “your people” with their totalitarian statistics bending. I warn you that you are profoundly wrong.

          • Ivan M

            They have a ready made get out card. Statistical smearing across all claims of faith healing, some of which they make up themselves. So that if one claims that a certain ache miraculously disappeared due to the prayers of ___, they say it is not significant. Or not repeatable, or that it was a placebo effect anyway. But their clams about their quack medicines for cancer, for AIDS have the status of objective truth.

            There are (paraphrasing Disraeli) lies, damned lies, statistics and then modern medical studies.

          • sarky

            If I’m wrong where is the evidence?
            Any claims that offer hope to people need to be substantiated, otherwise it’sfalse hope and thats not fair.

          • William Lewis

            You’ve just read a first hand account of prayerful healing and you ask; where is the evidence? Is there any point to your commentary on this blog other than to accuse Christians or justify the hopelessness of your ideology?

          • sarky

            I have read first hand accounts of people who believe they have been abducted by aliens. Does that mean aliens exist?
            Sorry, I require evidence for something that can cause harm by giving false hope.

          • William Lewis

            Evidence is evidence. Whether you choose to look for it or believe it is your business. You pays your money and you makes your choice.

          • sarky

            I have. That’s why I’ll be sticking to the NHS.

          • magnolia

            There is so much evidence I hardly know where to begin. But do I want to put one or two cases under your scrutiny? Is it decent to the people involved given that you will just regard their experience as being for gaming, not for listening to and respecting? You may even accuse them of being the worst kind of fraud? People make themselves a bit vulnerable when they give their personal experiences, and I do not have the heart for saying look at this case, or this healer. Find out yourself.

            You say you have “looked into .[this] ..quite seriously” but mostly when cynics say this they have read a few articles and maybe at outside one book. Or have you read Francis McNutt, John Wimber, various Sanford, Sangford and Sandfords, Kenneth McAll, Derek Prince, Russ Parker, Michael Mitton, John Mellor, Bp. Morris Maddocks, and more? Books in 2 figures would be a start, or otherwise it is all a bit shallow.

  • Busy Mum

    47 million beneficiaries?Where is the shame?

    And what about doing one’s alms in secret? Isn’t the pride in this well-doing more shameful still?

    • magnolia

      There are different types of pride, and I cannot see Justin Welby’s proper advocacy for the Church he leads as in any way other than good, particularly as the Church is hauled over the coals by the media over any miscreant within its ranks. Disproportionate chest-beating and dwelling on the darker sides of things ceases to be a bonus if some are put off finding a Saviour by means of the Church as a result.

      How many may be lost while we nurture our lack of pride?

  • carl jacobs

    Gillan

    No longer can government, local authorities, secularist groups or anyone else claim that the Church or the Christian faith is irrelevant in this day and age.

    Your typical average Secularist has never said the church is irrelevant when it comes to running food banks or performing other worthy socials tasks that have been stamped with a Secularist imprimatur. That is in fact the only relevant purpose that churches are allowed. When a Secularist says the church is irrelevant, he is referring to its ability to define the nature of reality and therefore the boundaries of human existence.

    The church is free to run its food banks so long as it otherwise keeps its mouth shut. That’s your relevance.

    • Paul Handley

      What churches are ‘allowed’; by who?!! Talk about hubris and unwarranted self-regard not to mention a creeping totalitarianism that prescribes what people can and cannot believe. The churches are ‘allowed’ to do what they damn well please in line with the teachings of its founder. And if the ‘secular world’ doesn’t like that it’s just going to have to suck it up I’m afraid.

      • Watchman

        Paul, you may have observed that when Christians try to do what their founder asked them to do they get arrested. They are only permitted to do what a secular state approves of, those actions which involve temporal rather than spiritual succour. Carl’s last paragraph makes that very clear.

      • magnolia

        Carl is stating how he thinks things are, not how he thinks they should be!

    • dannybhoy

      Amen!

    • Linus

      The Church is free to keep its food banks and speak its mind. It is not free to impose its rules on society as a whole. In this it is no different to any other private organization or association.

      Let the Church live by its lights, but do not let it shine them in the eyes of other people with the express intention of blinding them so that it can force them to follow its rules.

      • How did the ‘wedding’ go, Linus?

        • Linus

          What makes you think I would want to share any kind of intimate detail of my life with an evil old troll like you?

          Fantasize all you like about what I may or may not have done this weekend. I’m sure whatever scenario is playing out in your head is as fervid, and fetid, as your repressed Catholic imagination can make it. But that’s your affair and has nothing to do with me.

          • Just being polite, old chap.

          • Linus

            Ho ho! I’ve got your number, old bigot. You don’t do polite unless there’s no other opportunity of getting close enough to stick a knife between your victim’s ribs.

            Spare me your fake concern. You don’t give a damn how my wedding went. All you’re concerned about it is using it as a weapon in your war against the gays.

          • And this has what to do with this thread, precisely? Could you both please revert to the furnished ‘Chat’ facility for these sorts of comments? Bless you.

          • Linus

            A question was asked, a reply was given. Not the desired one of course, but as to it being irrelevant, I’m not so sure.

            Isn’t it relevant to any discussion that Christians know about the level of contempt their actions inspire in the targets of their hatred? Or would you prefer to pretend that we all love you and welcome your defamatory attacks and attempts to limit our rights under the law?

            Christians might do a lot of charity work, but there’s self-interest lurking behind it. Good works, be they feeding the hungry or attempting to convert gays, are nothing more than a form of coin with which you hope to purchase salvation. And the objects of your charity are just grist for the mill – a means to an end, which is just as selfish as any materialist Atheist goal could possibly be.

          • dannybhoy

            He asked how your ‘wedding’ went, not how you consummated it.

          • carl jacobs

            Since sex is by nature complementary, homosexuals cannot consummate a relationship. What would be the defining complementary act of homosexuality? The question is an inherent contradiction.

          • dannybhoy

            I have no wish to delve into or speculate on how Linus and his pal conduct their relationship. Linus is first and foremost a human being and therefore worthy of respect and dignity. Even if I cannot/will not condone his lifestyle, I won’t deny his legitimate desire to be loved and to give love.
            He’s looking in the wrong place is all.

          • carl jacobs

            Homosexuality isn’t a lifestyle. It isn’t “looking for love in all the wrong places.” It’s high-handed rebellion. It’s the very obliteration of the concepts of masculine and feminine in its effacement of the created order. Don’t go around assuming a common teleology that doesn’t exist.

          • dannybhoy

            You take this same attitude with all those you know who commit/have committed adultery I take it?
            Or fornication?
            Or pornography??
            Sin is sin.
            There is enough evidence and first hand testimony to show that homosexuality happens from birth. Not for everybody, granted. It can be learnt.
            Yes, it is sin, just as lust, adultery and fornication are sins.
            Jesus never once picked out homosexuality for especial condemnation; never once described homosexuality as some kind of ‘super sin.’
            My point is that Jesus views Linus exactly the same way He views any sinner. He loved them enough to die for them on the cross that they might have forgiveness and eternal life.
            I personally fail to understand why Linus’s homosexuality which of his own admission he did not ask for, marks him out for particular condemnation.

          • DanJ0

            Blimey. :O

      • carl jacobs

        Well that’s mighty gracious of you, Linus, to so clearly define the limits of my freedom – as if you have the authority to do so. If it’s alright with you, I’ll bring my religion with me into the public square. And I shall apply such influence as I am able to set the rules of law accordingly.

        Actually, I’ll do that even if it’s not alright with you.

        • Darter Noster

          Beware Carl! Anger Linus and he might unleash the full might of the French Empire!

          Oh, hang on…

          • carl jacobs

            Now, now. Just because in one month we will reach the 200th anniversary of the last time France was historically relevant, that’s no reason to get petulant. After all, Napolean could have won. What if it hadn’t rained?

          • carl jacobs

            Heh. It seems that France isn’t too interested in participating in the 200th anniversary of Waterloo. You know. All that British triumphalism. Unresolved questions about what they should think of Napoleon – mad dictator or enlightened ruler? Sunset of the Glory that was France.

            Not a good time for them.

        • Linus

          And I’ll continue to call for your right to impose your religion on others to be curbed. Funnily enough, I feel no need to hesitate or ask your permission so to do.

          So far, the influence you’re capable of applying seems to be having very little effect on the advance of secular Western culture. Indeed whatever the battleground, religion suffers defeat after defeat relieved only by very rare and relatively minor victories. Not much to build a plan for world domination on, is it?

          But do your worst. I’m sanguine enough about the prospect. Your worst is so very ineffectual, what real harm can it do?

          • Inspector General

            What defiance can a homosexual man really achieve today? It’s not yesterday anymore…

          • carl jacobs

            Whether I succeed or fail is no concern to this discussion. What matters is the legitimacy of the effort.

          • Linus

            Like I said, knock yourself out. Nobody ever said that Christians aren’t allowed to try to influence public opinion. But like all pressure groups, their arguments are subject to criticism.

            Any argument you’re capable of advancing can be (and has already been) convincingly refuted by those opposed to theocratic rule. Society has listened to our arguments and, by and large, accepted them. It has listened to yours and, by and large, rejected them. You can keep on flogging the dead horse you’re trying to cajole into taking you where you want to go, but your chances of getting there are slim to none. Far be it from me to discourage you from trying, of course. Perhaps this imaginary god of yours will front up with one of his miracles and resurrect the dead horse and we’ll all fall down and worship the New Messiah Jésus Cheval, as ridden by you, of course…

          • carl jacobs

            You can be unintentionally hilarious, Ozymandias Linus. The world has been turned on its head in as little as 50 years, and you stand there confident thinking to yourself “It cannot be undone.” You live in a culture that believes in nothing but its own freedom – a freedom that must be operationalized by prosperity to be meaningful. Yet you don’t consider what will happen when the money goes away. And the money is going away. What will happen to a people who believe in nothing but freedom enabled by money when there is no more money to enable their freedom? That is a frightening question.

            I have said many times that I think Christianity is done in the West. I don’t expect to succeed. But I know this brittle vacuum of Secularism is going to implode. There is nothing to sustain it against increasing pressure. And every day the economic pressure increases. That’s how the world will turn once again 180 degrees but this time around a completely different axis of rotation. In 50 years, the new Pagans will be saying of you what you now say of me. “We’ve listened to your arguments and rejected them. This is a New Dawn.”

            You have seen your future, Linus. You just refuse to recognize it.

          • Linus

            And only Christ can rescue us from the coming economic apocalypse, eh? Or is it a zombie apocalypse you’re speaking of?

            Christians have been prophesying doom and destruction for 2000 years. And somehow we’re still here. And the doomsayers have perished without seeing the doom they so desire descend on those they hate.

            Get ready to die disappointed, o North America’s less-talented answer to Cassandra…

          • carl jacobs

            Linus

            Get ready to die disappointed

            Are you really so dull? I can’t die disappointed. Temporal victory and temporal defeat have no ultimate meaning for me. Everything we have will be taken from us. Everything you seek to preserve is already lost to you.

          • Linus

            Everything I have is mine as long as I live and can hold onto it. When I’m dead I’ll have nothing because I’ll no longer exist. The same is true for everyone. Death awaits us all.

            Imagining some kind of post-mortem heavenly paradise is one psychoglogical strategy for dealing with the bleak prospect of the all-consuming grave. Not a particularly intelligent one of course, considering there’s nothing but wishful thinking to back it up. But men have been constructing fantasies to soften the hard reality of death ever since we lived in caves, which some of us still do, in our minds.

            There’s really no difference between Neanderthal superstition and Christianity. I should imagine Neanderthals were every bit as vicious and vituperative towards those who challenged their fantasies, although as we don’t know much about Neanderthal phonology, it’s impossible to say whether the insults they hurled at unbelievers were as monosyllabic as yours. But whatever their mode of expression, the intention was surely the same: “Ugh! Bad man say god not there, me scared, he go away now! Ugh!”

            Wake up and smell the roses, caveman. They’re right in front of you and they smell lovely, but they’re just as ephemeral as you, and they too will die and rot and be no more. Enjoy them while you can.

          • avi barzel

            More talmud from you? “It ‘snot wether you finish the work, but the engage in the labour” or something to that effect. Might have been Hillel, but that’s just a guess.

      • dannybhoy

        No Christian is called to be an enforcer Linus. We are called to be witnesses of God’s forgiveness and redemption and call men to repentance..

        • Linus

          You’re not called to be enforcers, and yet you insist on arranging the law so that gay couples are denied the status and protections of marriage, and businesses are allowed to pick and choose to whom they supply goods, and if they don’t like gays, and blacks, and anyone else, well too bad, it’s their right to put a “no gays, Irish or coloureds” sign in the window.

          Let’s not even talk about the women you want to enforce your anti-abortion laws on.

          I say your claim that no Christian is called to be an enforcer is basic hypocrisy. Christians very much want to force their rules on others. They lobby (spectacularly unsuccessfully, but it’s the intention that counts) for the law to enforce all sorts of discrimination against the LGBT community. And then they lie about it.

          • dannybhoy

            It’s called a democracy Linus. I know the EU doesn’t believe in democracy, and has plans for it’s eventual replacement by bureaucratic edict, but at the moment my country practices a form of democracy.
            As a citizen I have both rights and responsibilities. My opinions are shaped by my Christian faith, as yours are by your atheism.
            Would you deny me my rights and responsibilities as a fellow citizen? Do I deny you your rights to express your opinions?

          • Linus

            It is a democracy, and the regulations that govern equality and the provision of goods and services were put in place by a democratically elected parliament. Who are you to refuse to obey them?

            Apparently government by unilateral EU edict is unacceptable to you, but not government by unilateral Christian edict.

            If you don’t like the law as it stands, campaign to change it. And if you don’t like the way it’s interpreted by the judiciary, why do you never complain about court cases that go your way? That woman whose right to wear a cross was upheld by the courts has no more right to benefit from a judicial decision in her favour than the complainant in the bakery case has to benefit from his. “Government by judicial fiat” is never a problem for people like you when that judicial fiat goes your way.

            As usual, your comments are just another litany of hypocrisy and demands for special treatment. By all means campaign for special rules for Christians to discriminate against whoever they like, whenever they like. But I doubt you’ll get very far.

          • dannybhoy

            It is a democracy, and the regulations that govern equality and the provision of goods and services were put in place by a democratically elected parliament. Who are you to refuse to obey them?

            I’m not, and I accept what the law currently says, but I also accept that because of their faith the owners were right to refuse.
            Stop being so melodramatic and just think for a moment.
            That family business has existed since around 1993.
            In 1993 that law did not exist.
            The bakery thrived and employed more people in more branches.
            Read their “about us”
            http://www.ashersbakingco.com/about/
            and show me the bits where they display their bile, venom and bigotry, Linus.
            It isn’t there is it? They don’t even mention their Christian faith because in the context of their bakery business it isn’t relevant.
            Now every true Christian will stand with them, because we recognise there are times when as citizens and subjects of a heavenly kingdom we cannot conform to the rules of an earthly society.
            Just as the Jews refuse to give up their identity as God’s Chosen people through whom salvation has come to the world.
            And if you don’t like the way it’s interpreted by the judiciary, why do you never complain about court cases that go your way?

            Well now, that’s what we will do, and that’s why I am a member of the Coalition for Marriage; to put forward my Christian belief that marriage is a heterosexual affair, not a homosexual one. Being rather more rational than you, I also accept the idea of civil partnerships for homosexuals, but not marriage. That’s because God says as well as adultery and fornication, a man lying with a man, or a woman lying with a woman is wrong.
            Christians don’t make God’s rules Linus, we seek to obey them.

          • Linus

            Very rational, I see. So rational that you’re crying “close the stable door!” long after the horse has bolted.

            That’s not rationality. It’s crazed out-of-touch delusion. You can’t do anything about equal marriage now. There are thousands of married couples out there whose unions can’t be voided by the State without violating fundamental principles of human rights. Any government that tries will find itself in trouble deeper than it could ever imagine.

            You have as much chance of taking away same-sex couples’ right to marry as you do of revoking the right of women to vote. Rights once granted can never be rescinded. Try it and you’ll have a revolution on your hands. One that you can never hope to win.

            But hey, if trying to do the impossible keeps you occupied and means you’re not causing mischief elsewhere, by all means continue.

          • dannybhoy

            Very rational, I see. So rational that you’re crying “close the stable door!” long after the horse has bolted.

            It is rational because over a thousand years our culture was shaped by Christianity.
            That means our laws were based on biblical laws, our thinking was influenced by Classical Greek philosphy, and the great offices of state were shaped by Christianity.
            You can’t escape that Linus, it’s fact.
            As the influence of Christianity wanes, so morality is changing. Christians accept that, and like the Jews they seek to live their lives within the social framework. Christians have dual citizenship. We have the right to object to proposals which we believe are harmful to society, but we don’t seek to kill or intimidate people who disagree with us.
            You really overreact on this issue.

          • Linus

            The judge was sufficiently convinced of the defendants’ homophobic bigotry to find them guilty of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

            The only people overreactîng to this case, which is a simple affirmation of the requirement to treat all people equally in the provision of goods and services, are Christians. They cry about injustice when what they really mean is that they’re furious at not being allowed to punish gays by refusing to serve us.

          • dannybhoy

            Linus
            please stop being a dodo..
            It is not bigotry to disagree or even argue against ssm, any more than to disagree with evolution is bigotry. Or Islam, or Scientology.
            What you can’t show is that any recognised society in history accepted same sex marriage as equal to heterosexual marriage. Apart from Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Sikh, Hindu objections, there is a very obvious reason for that….

          • Linus

            We’re evolving as a society, so you’d better watch out because the only dodos around here wear crosses, are utterly incapable of adapting to new circumstances, and are clearly on the road to extinction.

            Ancient societies didn’t accept a lot of behaviour that we find perfectly normal now. That’s because they were poorly educated and didn’t know a lot about how the world around them worked, so they filled in the gaps in their knowledge with ritualized superstition.

            Time have changed. You’d better keep up or you’ll fade away into an evolutionary cul de sac…

          • dannybhoy

            Ha Ha!
            Persecution is coming to the true Christian Church Linus, it’s inevitable.
            That’s because they were poorly educated and didn’t know a lot about how
            the world around them worked, so they filled in the gaps in their
            knowledge with ritualized superstition.

          • DanJ0

            The judgement is bizarre, and flawed, regarding discrimination. I don’t see how it can continue to stand.

          • avi barzel

            Rights once granted can never be rescinded.

            Don’t bet your engagement ring on this, Linus. Fads and stupid decisions can get reviewed and chucked.

            You are not defending a right to marry…that anyone could have done decades ago under sympathetic congregations. What you are insisting on is the obligation of society, its systems and even the private individual to treat you as married or to pretend you are.

          • carl jacobs

            The state giveth and the state taketh away.

          • Linus

            Tell that to the Irish. They’ve just written equal marriage into their Constitution. No future government or judge will be able to rescind the right without implementing a constitutional amendment, which can only happen with supermajorities in both houses of the Irish parliament confirmed by referendum.

            Equal marriage is no passing fad. It represents a permanent evolution in cultural attitudes towards the concept of marriage and sexual morality. It’s here to stay whether you like it or not.

      • avi barzel

        You can’t obviously say that in a democracy religious people cannot speak, vote, argue, promote or lobby as they see fit, so you qualify your fascistic tic with with what you will determine is “blinding” and “forcing” the presumably naive and stupid. In the meantime you work hard to form a ring of privileges under the elastic cover of “human rights” whose aim is, first to stop change and then, after campaigns of ridicule and demonizing, shut down discussion. This is how you get around to demanding that the religious shut up. In the same old way of tyrannies throughout history.

        • Linus

          False accusations expose you for the bigot you are.

          Christians are perfectly free to express their views. But businesses may not discriminate in the provision of goods and services. A Christian baker could, while he was taking an order for a cake promoting same sex marriage, quite legitimately make his opposition to it known. In most cases, his customer would then take his business elsewhere. Who wants to patronise bigots, after all? But in the case in question, the order was accepted without demur and then reneged on later, so the customer decided to take a stand and ask the law to define what the equal provision of goods and services actually means.

          Similar cases with similar outcomes have happened elsewhere. The principle of businesses being required to supply their goods and services to all is now firmly established in Western law. Christians and other religions can moan about it as much as they like, but the freedom to discriminate on religious grounds has been definitively curbed. So deal with it.

  • I don’t wish in any way to disparage the vast amount of good works being done by churches of various denominations. It’s great, and it’s right and proper that it should be done.
    .
    However, if churches fail to preach the Gospel in all its fullness, then all those good works are just rouge on the face of a corpse. We could join the Rotary Club or something similar and do our good works there.
    .
    When God wishes to punish a nation, He takes His word, and the preaching of it, out of the land (1 Kings 17; Amos 8:11-12). Such a drought and such a famine are upon us now, and we need to be crying out to God to raise up preachers as He did in the days of Wesley and Whitefield.

  • Dreadnaught

    Being atheist does not stop me from appreciating the English Church. They underpin the best of what makes for Britishness, from the role it played historically in the grounding of an unwritten constitution, the legacy of reassurance it provided for individuals in times of conflict and of course for its charitable undertakings in the past and to this day.
    The English countryside would be incomplete without the presence of characteristic spires or the Norman towers of village churches and war memorials and village greens that serve as reminders of who, why and where we are and our place in the landscape. There will always be room in this nation for patriotism, pageantry and outright high-camp pomp and ceremony and visually at least, the Churches are still centre stage.
    The CoE in particular is at the epicentre of all this and no, it is not forcing its rules on any of us and although I don’t subscribe to it, I would defend its right to exist and yes, make comment through whatever medium it chooses. Parliament and sophisticated Society would be all the better if it was reminded once in a while what British culture actually means and being undeniably rooted in and of an ethnically European, Christian dominated heritage.
    That the Churches failed to make their presence felt in the face of non-democratically imposed multiculturalism, worse still openly encouraged it, is to their lasting shame. They are part of the Establishment and have been asleep on the job.
    Don’t point the finger at secularism – it just doesn’t exist as an organised body with an anti Christian agenda.
    I don’t do God, I’m happy to leave that to others, but religion does serve as the truth for some so let it be, but the ultimate truth? Hardly, otherwise there would be only one religion and it sure as hell isn’t Islam. That’s where my atheism works for me.

  • David

    To be pleasing to God good works must flow from faith.
    Works often indicate the presence of faith but do not guarantee it.
    Works without faith is empty.

    • dannybhoy

      We the Church, can be very busy ‘doing things’ and still be disobedient…
      It is more important that we seek God’s direction for us as individuals or congregations rather than simply fill our loves with busy-ness.

      • David

        Agreed !

    • DanJ0

      How about faith that doesn’t produce good works?

      • David

        Individual definitions of “good works” will vary of course, as there are many ways of serving The Lord, but I have yet to meet a committed Christian that doesn’t do something in that direction. But some of these acts are kept private and unmentioned, except to God who sees all.