Saturday, 27 November 2010
ConDem Politics and Christian Hypocrisy
I will speak out for those who have no voices
I will stand up for the rights of all the oppressed
I will speak truth and justice
I'll defend the poor and the needy
I will lift up the weak in Jesus' name
Or if you prefer:
I, the Lord of wind and flame,
I will tend the poor and lame.
I will set a feast for them.
My hand will save.
I wonder if you ever sing either of these hymns. If so I do hope you won’t allow David Cameron and Nick Clegg to turn you into a hypocrite.
You see it looks like we are in for a period when the attention of the media will be, as ever, on the antics of the rich and famous (not least, following last week’s announcement, the royally rich and famous). Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of the not nearly so rich and the nowhere near famous will, largely unnoticed, be struggling to cope as their jobs are snatched away and their benefits slashed.
“Oh dear” I hear you say, “this is getting a bit political.” Well, yes, but my purpose in raising this is not to debate the minutiae of government fiscal policy. I’m not sure that an economics A level from 1978 is sufficient qualification to pronounce on the relative merits of Keynes and Friedman as gurus for hard times. Instead I’m going to stick to what I know.
I reckon I’m on safe ground when I tell you that thirty five years of reading the Bible has lead me to the conclusion that Jesus is not very fond of hypocrisy. And make no mistake it will be the rankest of rank hypocrisy if in coming years the church in this country continues to sing its hymns of solidarity and preach its sermons on God’s care for poor while keeping stum about the impact of legislation on the lives of the most vulnerable. It would also be somewhat less than satisfactory for us to follow the all too familiar path of sticking to escapist praise songs and ignoring awkward Bible passages.
For the purposes of this column whether you voted Tory, Labour, Lib Dem or Monster Raving Looney is not really my concern. My point is that as Christians we all belong to a political party that has as one of the main planks of its platform a policy that is set firmly against passing by on the other side. Ever since the good Samaritan did his stuff we have declared care-less neglect of the battered and the bruised to be a bad thing. And those who shoot their mouths off about how the world should be run really ought to try and muster up at least an ounce or two of consistency.
We can agree on that can’t we? That the church ought to be speaking out on behalf of those whom the majority of society would rather ignore? That we should be trying to wrestle the spotlight away from princes and prima donnas, nudging it instead towards those upon whom God’s eye rests?
If not, perhaps it’s time to call an end to the party. At the very least we should take our scissors to our Bibles and attack our hymn projection software with the delete button. The Magnificat for instance, and all those songs based upon it, should be left on the cutting room floor this Christmas. True, the bland and anaemic version of Christianity with which we would be left is a rather distasteful thing, but not nearly as nauseating a full blown hypocrisy.
My turn to do a month's worth of opinion pieces for the Baptist Times' "Outside Edge" column has come round again. With the agreement of the editor I'm posting my BT article here. To check out the Baptist Times as a whole click here.