If an extremist is someone holding extreme views then 5Live presenter Peter Allen suggested last night that holding orthodox Christian values could well label you an extremist.
In a discussion about the Republican primaries being held in Arizona and Michegan conversation turned to the candidate Rick Santorum. Santorum is an orthodox Roman Catholic with conservative views on social policy eg. abortion and homosexuality.
The following is a transcript of the conversation last night between Peter Allen 5Live’s drive time presenter and British broadcaster Simon Conway who hosts the drive programme of Iowa’s WHO radio station (to listen click here and forward to 2 hours 41 minutes).
Peter Allen: When you say he [Santorum]won’t stand any chance that’s because of what, some extreme views he’s got?
Simon Conway: He’s ultra-conservative and those social issues , which is what we refer to them here, would be played up by the Obama campaign in a 1 on 1 and I don’t’ think they would play well because just like in the UK it’s not the traditional conservative and labour voters who decide any election it’s the middle.
Peter Allen: Give us an example of the extreme views on social policies. What is it abortion and stuff like that?
Simon Conway: Abortion is something that does play in the middle here. It’s more about homosexuality his views are very extreme.
It seems to me an unavoidable conclusion that at least some BBC presenters are ready to label Christian views as extreme (not conservative, not traditional but extreme) and it is a very small step indeed to describe someone holding extreme views an extremist.
What makes this language quite scary is that the BBC has advised its presenters NOT to speak of Abu Qatada as an extremist despite the Islamist Cleric having been described by a judge as ‘Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe’.
BBC journalists were told they should not describe Qatada as an extremist. The guidance was issued at the BBC newsroom’s 9.00am editorial meeting yesterday, chaired by a senior manager, Andrew Roy.
According to notes of the meeting, seen by The Daily Telegraph, journalists were told: “Do not call him an extremist – we must call him a radical. Extremist implies a value judgment.”
Now Peter Allen’s description of Santorum may have been a one-off. Only time will tell as to whether Christians in this country will face the same charge of not just holding ‘extreme’ views but perhaps in time joining the number of those labelled ‘extremists’.
In this Spectator article Parris is, as always, uniquely insightful on matters of faith and refuses to see the wisdom offered by those who find religion useful without a personal belief in God.
‘As I get older the sharpness of my faculties begins to dull. But what I will not do is sink into a mellow blur of acceptance of the things I railed against in my youth. ‘Familiar’ be damned. ‘Comforting’ be damned. ‘Useful’ be damned. Is it true? — that is the question. It was the question when I was 12 and the question when I was 22. Forty years later it is still the question. It is the only question.’
Updated: the post on which my blog-post depends appears to no-longer be available
How should Christians respond to arguments in favour of same-sex marriage? There are many advocates for a change in the law to permit gay couples to marry. After all the argument goes ‘equality should mean equality’.
Peter Saunders chair of the Christian Medical Fellowship has written a blog post outlining Ten reasons not to legalise same sex marriage check it out and think it through for yourself.
Most persuasive for me is argument 9 - Redefining marriage will not stop with same sex marriage
After all ’Equality is equality is equality’ is surely the foundation for the argument in favour of a change in the law to recognise same-sex marriage. IF equality is equality and IF we are to be free from ‘intolerant, bigoted, discriminatory and hateful’ positions in the debate I wonder whether advocates of a change in the law think that
1) a man should be legally able to marry his sister?
2) 3 or more parties should be free to enter into a marriage arrangement?
3) a muslim should be permitted under British law to have 3 or 4 or more wives?
Having rejected historical or biological arguments in favour of the ‘equality’ argument it seems only logical that those in favour of same-sex arguments will also be in favour of all sorts of marriage ‘arrangements’ between consenting adults.
If anyone can suggest otherwise I’d be happy to hear from them.
In an article in today’s Telegraph Baroness Warsi (the Tory Party Chairman) warns of the effect of a rising secularism in our nation ‘where religion is sidelined, marginalised and downgraded in the public sphere.’
She is also rightly aware that
‘one of the most worrying aspects about this militant secularisation is that at its core and in its instincts it is deeply intolerant. It demonstrates similar traits to totalitarian regimes – denying people the right to a religious identity because they were frightened of the concept of multiple identities.’
What she doesn’t mention is that as a society we must not be allowed to forget that tolerance belongs to Christianity, uniquely, because Christianity alone espouses a view of the world in which tolerance is a God-like virtue. Even as nails were driven into his hands in preparation to kill the maker of the universe Jesus said ‘Father forgive them.’ There is no other worldview that celebrates the values that we enjoy and rejoice over and that secularism, true to its ideology, wants to remove.
Bruce Sheiman in his book An atheist defends religion writes of the extraordinary impact of Christianity when he reminds us that
‘A commitment to human dignity, personal liberty, and individual equality did not previously appear in ANY other culture’
So don’t be surprised by secularism’s intolerance, tolerance belongs to Christianity.
Cristina Odone in the Telegraph puts the case for taking on the National Secular Society
(HT: Westminster 2010)
Dame Joan Bakewell, once a powerful voice in the campaign for the sexual revolution of the 1960′s, has again (see my earlier post) voiced her dismay at the outworking of the sexual ‘liberation’ she advocated for so long. This time the focus of her concern are the televised performances of Lady Gaga.
On it’s impact on today’s youth she comments ‘I perhaps overrated romance rather too much, but I don’t know whether they overrate sex too much these days, I’ve no idea. What harm it will do, I just don’t know.’
It seems, sadly a little too late in the day, she has accepted that the desire for ’freedom’ from sex within marriage has been a destructive freedom for through it we have begun to destroy ourselves. The truth is that we never find freedom when we run from God we only find that we have unleashed a force in our society that we are unable to control which begins its inevitable effect of corruption and destruction.
The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Galatians:
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Pray for our children.
Stephen Kelly, in an article entitled Does Dr. Who feature a god for our times assesses how a country that has turned its back on its God(s) resorts to making up new ones.
The article concludes
And that’s just it, isn’t it? In the absence of an interventionist God, people simply make their own. After all, when presented with such an abyss, you fill it with whatever you can. Even if that does happen to mean someone who now thinks bow-ties are cool.
As GK Chesterton once said
For when we cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing, we worship anything.
Always controversial and an outspoken atheist his ideas have impacted and infuriated many.
His entry in Wikipedia notes that he was included in ‘The Top 100 Public Intellectuals Poll’ The poll ‘was conducted in November 2005 and June 2008 by Prospect Magazine (UK) and Foreign Policy (US) on the basis of responding readers’ ballot. The objective was to determine the 100 most important public intellectuals who are still alive and active in public life.’
I remember watching the documentary Collision which followed Christopher Hitchens (author of God is not great) and Doug Wilson as they debated ‘Is God good for the world?‘. It’s not a particularly good documentary in some senses but what you can’t miss as you do watch it is what a friendly relationship they enjoyed.
In an article in Christianity Today on the death of Hitchens Wilson writes ‘During the time we spent together, he never said an unkind thing to me—except on stage, up in front of everybody. After doing this, he didn’t wink at me, but he might as well have.’
As we reflect on the death of a godless man we remember the word of the Lord in Ezekiel:
‘Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?’
Google’s top 10 search lists for 2011 has just been released and for all those who feel the need to keep up to speed with what everybody is thinking they are an invaluable source.
There are top 10 fastest rising searches for 2011, fastest rising people (at least 5 of whom I’d never heard), a top 10 ‘how to’ list which includes at number 2 ‘how to snog’ and at number 7 ‘how to flirt’ and top 10 celebrities.
So if you’re desperate to look up-to-date on all things cool or you’re looking to understand the priorities and concerns of a nation you now know where to look.
So Richard Dawkins is guest editing the Christmas edition of the New Statesman – a smart move on their part which is guaranteed to boost the sales.
Like all fundamentalists Richard Dawkins can be infuriating. His resistance to reason and his refusal to engage with the world of ideas has driven many an atheist mad let alone the Christian. Again like many fundamentalists his rhetoric is often full of vitriol and demonstrates a sometimes scary intolerance for any who disagree with him – no matter how reasonable. But I for one am still glad he’s in the world. Why?
1. Is there anyone who does more to keep religion in the public eye than Dawkins? The secularist agenda is to marginalise people of faith by keeping God-talk out of the public sphere. Dawkins functions as a secret agent subverting the secularist agenda by insisting on discussing matters of faith. When others go on and on about X-factor he just can’t stop talking about God! He’s done more for the church, in the public sphere, than any religious figure since the time of CS Lewis.
2. It follows from the first point that Dawkins is responsible, both directly and indirectly, for opening up many a conversation as matters of God, faith & science continue to be discussed in the media. Just this last week Brian Cox distanced himself from Dawkins views on Radio 5 Live.
3. Dawkins does a great deal to reassure Christians that their faith is reasonable and credible. His refusal to debate Christian apologist William Lane Craig in Oxford a couple of months ago, even at a time that he was promoting his own new book through a show at the Royal Albert Hall, was a massive own goal. His unwillingness to defend his own ideas has been exposed by a number of atheist Philosophers.
4. Dawkins provides some great quotes to highlight the bankruptcy of atheism. His own (albeit qualified) support for infanticide, his admission that he has no idea how life began on the planet, his own recognition that for the atheist there is no good and evil all demonstrate how unliveable atheism is and how dark its conclusion are.
5.Dawkins compels Christians to think and to think deeply about their faith. As we take seriously the call to provide a reasoned defence for what we believe gets us back to our Bible and to good books.
6. Dawkins reminds us of the danger of fundamentalism in all of its forms. He is a warning to us all of how ugly it can be and how by contrast Christians need to think, speak and behave differently.
Francis Schaeffer was right when he said ‘the greatest apologetic of all is love’.
So happy Christmas Richard Dawkins and keep up the good work!
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