Never in a decade of blogging has so much bile and vomit been spewed in this direction. Oh, we’ve had our fractious moments over the years, but nothing, ever, like this. You get up, make a cup of tea, turn on your PC and pore over the screen with queasy feelings of sickness in the stomach. The Twitter feed, Facebook and email inbox are overflowing with hate. If you voted to leave the EU, you are “foolish”, “racist”, “bigoted”, “self-absorbed”, “evil”, “xenophobic”, or a “small right-wing man”. And those are just the gracious and loving comments made by members of Church of England clergy.
“Older woman on the 134 bus gleefully telling a young Polish woman and her baby to get off and get packing. Horrific.” We’re responsible for that, you see: we Nazis who seek to incite a pogrom to round up all foreigners (especially “blacks and Muslims”) and cart them off to the gas chambers. “Snakes don’t hiss they vote leave then die of old age before it can effect them.” The mental impulse is to correct the verb, but only to guard the spirit with a deflection from the inference: Brexiters are evil serpents, hissing tools of Satan, who don’t give a damn for our children and our children’s children. We are self-absorbed, ugly, poisonous and corrupt. One vicar has seen fit to apologise to the nation’s young people for the way we middle-aged devils and elderly demons voted. Damn democracy. Damn all senior citizens. Brexit is an abomination of desolation, and we who voted for it have cursed the world with economic terror and political torment. God Himself has judged us: plagues of hate and social-media pestilence are the just retribution.
Theologians are more thoughtful in their expression, but the condemnation is the same. This from Anglican theologian John Milbank:
Christians are duty bound for theological and historical reasons to support the ever closer union of Europe (which does not imply a superstate) and to deny the value of absolute sovereignty or the lone nation-state. Tragically, the Reformation, Roundhead, nonconformist, puritan, whig, capitalist, liberal version of Britishness last night triumphed over our deep ancient character which is Catholic or Anglican, Cavalier, Jacobite, High Tory or Socialist. The spirit of both Burke and Cobbett has been denied by the small-minded, bitter, puritanical, greedy and Unitarian element in our modern legacy. Unfortunately it has duped the working classes, once again to their further ruination.
So, there you have it: “ever closer union” is the Kingdom of God: the Reformation was ruination. Poor Thomas the EU Tank Engine has been thwarted by the evil, bitter, bigoted and greedy UK Fat Controller. It is a supreme act of folly inflicted by simpletons who lacks the wit to grasp the true meaning of Christian catholicity.
Would it not better now to pause and reflect; to re-imagine Europe and reconsider the role which the United Kingdom might now play in the whole world? Instead of hurling insults and goading 17,410,742 anti-EU souls with infallible assertions of political righteousness, would it not be preferable (especially for members of the clergy) to focus on our Christian values and the opportunity we now have to forge new global relationships? Is it not more Christian to build reassuring bridges into the world for the benefit of humanity and global security, rather than erecting barriers of social-media scorn and shame, complaining against the majority – the majority – who simply don’t agree with you?