Thought I'd mark the advent today of the government's spending cuts by reposting something I penned back in 2010. It's about the importance of the Christian Church speaking out on behalf of the poor. It's been good to see The Archbishop of Canterbury, The Pope and The Joint Public Issues Team of the Free Churches rising to the challenge. But I thought that on this day of all days a reminder to the rest of us wouldn't go amiss ...
All together now:
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.
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.
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.) [This a reference to the announcement of the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton.]
Meanwhile hundreds of thousands of the not nearly so rich and the
nowhere near as famous will, largely unnoticed, be struggling to cope as
their jobs are snatched away and their benefits slashed.
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
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.
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
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.
This piece originally appeared in The Baptist Times and is reproduced here with permission of the editor.