As we enter into 2010, a word from my sponsor:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16 v33 NIV.
I believe we will come to know the reality of these words as we are faced with the choice of either throwing our lot in with the world, or with the overcomer of the world. The middle ground will become thin indeed.
Increasingly we are faced with stories such as this, folks forced to choose between their faith and their job, or their kids, or their family, or whatever pressure point can be brought to bear to ensure compromise and compliance.
Is this an overreaction to a few isolated cases, or is it indicative of a deeper trend? I would argue for the latter. Things never start with a final solution, there are always first steps. New laws and policies are gradually introduced that marginalise and chill, touch those who are public facing, put pressure on them to compromise. It is a smiling evil, always presenting a sunny face with teeth bared.
But why should we care, it doesn’t affect us, we’re OK? Until you have an new “tolerance and equality” workplace ethics rule that you are required to sign. Or something similar. What then? Compromise is probably the easiest path, it always is. After all, greatest good for the greatest number. Why should you lose your job and the support for your family over signing a bit of paper that will never really mean anything anyway? What are you, an extremist? Just get along.
Surely society – most decent, law abiding people – won’t abide such injustices? Truth be told, they will. At the end of the day, most people simply won’t care enough to raise a finger, either tacitly approving or not concerned enough to do anything about it. Neutered sympathy at best, perhaps.
Don’t believe it? See Exhibit A from an Equalities minister, the very department generating the persecution legislation. Legal action taken against Churches is all the rage nowadays, and we know how that’s going to work out. Still , as the minister says, “if the church’s argument is good enough – which I believe it is – then the church should win through” – very comforting indeed. George Pitcher gets it – the whole point of Equality legislation is that some groups are more equal than others. You don’t need a degree to decode this, it’s really quite simple:
Tolerance, meaning intolerance.
Diversity, meaning conformity.
Equality, meaning inequality.
Returning to the first article I linked to – I note the courts opinion, and using principles above, put the quote in plainer language:
What the court said:
The Court of Appeal’s Lord Neuberger said, “It appears to me that, however much sympathy one may have with someone such as Ms. Ladele, who is faced with choosing between giving up a post she plainly appreciates or officiating at events which she considers to be contrary to her religious beliefs, the legislature has decided that the requirements of a modern liberal democracy, such as the United Kingdom, include outlawing discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services on grounds of sexual orientation, subject only to very limited exceptions.”
What the court meant:
The Court of Appeal’s Lord Neuberger said, “It appears to me that, however little sympathy one may have with someone such as Ms. Ladele, who is faced with choosing between giving up a post she plainly appreciates or officiating at events which she considers to be contrary to her religious beliefs (note the use of language to personalise and inject doubt as to validity), the legislature has decided that the requirements of a modern liberal democracy, such as the United Kingdom, include enshrining discrimination against the exercise of traditional religion, subject only to very limited exceptions (which will be removed in due course).”
But this is just the UK, yes? Surely it could not happen wherever you live, should you live somewhere different? It’s happening to somebody else, somewhere else. Apathy is bliss, until it lands on your doorstep one day. Then you will know the truth of Jesus’s words – the world really does hate you, and who you represent. Then you will have to decide which master to serve. The world will offer you temporal comfort and cheer – nirvana for a season. Jesus offers no such thing – but does offer the gift of following in His footsteps and overcoming the world – “that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe” (Phil 2 v15).
UPDATE – Related links below:
Amendments To Equality Bill
We wish to alert you to amendments to the Equality Bill which are to be voted on in the House of Lords on 14th January. These amendments have the potential to remove the right of every citizen to live according to her or his conscience and faith tradition, especially with regard to employment and the operation and ethos of their places of worship. The Equality Bill will strike out all exemptions on the basis of religion (with two modest exceptions) which will mean that all will be forced to conform to secularist values and ideology even in their churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and gurdwaras.