Christian Persecution

CofE General Sex Synod 2017: not one question about the Persecuted Church

Over the past few months Christians in the village of Jalalabad in Ghazipur District, India, where temperatures frequently soar to 40°C, have had their water supply cut to force them to deny Jesus. They have refused. Al-Shabaab militants walked into Fafi Primary School, 60 miles from Garissa in Kenya, and shot dead one Christian teacher in front of his pupils, and kidnapped another. Buses carrying Christians in Egypt are being attacked, and children slaughtered. Christian girls in Cairo are being kidnapped. Christians in Syria are being abducted. Christians in Pakistan are being subjected to false accusations of blasphemy, and being summarily dealt with: Asia Bibi has been languishing in a Pakistani prison since 2010. Churches are being torched and Christians taken hostage in the Philippines. In Iran for Christians have been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment each for engaging in missionary activities and “conducting activities against national security”. Pastor Zhang Shaojie in China is barely alive after suffering torture in prison. In Eritrea Christians are being routinely rounded up and detained. In Iraq, many Christians have been wiped out; thousands are now displaced.

But fear not, the General Synod of the Church of England is profoundly concerned about these matters…

Of the 85 listed Synod questions, not one – not one – is concerned with the plight of the persecuted church worldwide. There are questions about sex, sexuality, sex, LGBT, sex, LGTBQIA (what?), sex, LGBTI, sex, same-sex marriage, sex, ‘gay cure’ conversion therapy, sex, sex, and sex. O, there’s a question on ‘Monitoring air quality’, too. That’s diversity of obsession.

Welcome to the General Sex Synod of the Church of England.

The Very Rev’d Kelvin Holdsworth set out the LGBT strategy last year:

This can only be won in the Church of England in the General Synod of the Church of England. Notwithstanding anything else I say below, it can be won no-where else. That means building up a formidable synodical operation that works vote by vote for inclusive policies. The key here is that getting permission to marry gay couples in church unlocks all the other things you want too. Yes, it is worth making every debate about pensions, the forces chaplaincies, schools etc all debates where LGBT issues are paramount – these are all things where LGBT rights need to be talked about. However, equal marriage is the goal. And deliciously in a synodical system it is possible (difficult admittedly, but possible) to get things on the agenda. Oh, and don’t forget that the best way to provide jollity to a diocesan synod is to get enough people elected onto it and propose a motion or two about the national policy of the C of E when it comes to LGBT people. Don’t forget that it was in Diocesan Synods that the dreaded covenant was defeated in England. Synods are your friends.

Some would call this ‘entryism’ – infiltration and influence with the objective of subversion and domination. All democratic organisations are vulnerable to it, but most have mechanisms to mitigate it. In the case of the General Synod of the Church of England, is it too much to ask that those elected to it ought to swear to uphold the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Church of England? Or is that all in the eye of the beholder? Might members assent to such an oath, but like anti-Monarchist MPs in Parliament, cross their fingers as they swear it? Would God smile at that, or applaud it? If heretics are lauded as prophets, where is discernment?

If Synod is the Church of England’s supreme law-making body, and if it may be crammed with activists who have their own crusades and personal agendas which are at variance with the Catholic and Reformed foundation, what is there to guard the church against ever-expanding circles of concentric permissiveness, under the guise of ‘radical inclusion‘? If the answer is nothing, what makes the Church of England different from the world?

Should we not, at the very, very least, be witnessing boldly and forcefully to the world that we care about our brothers and sisters around the world who are being persecuted, tortured and murdered for their faith? Should we not convey in our agendas and propagate in our schedules that we care deeply about the voice of the martyrs? ‘Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body‘ (Heb 13:3).

Or is it that the bonds, suffering and adversity of the LGBT community in England should truly eclipse the suffering of Christians in India, Pakistan, Kenya, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, China, North Korea, Nigeria, Mali, Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Syria, Yemen…?

It certainly seems so.