Yesterday, statistics were produced to tell us that more people in this country have no belief in any religion than those who profess to follow one. Once upon a time the standard response of an Englishman to the question “What’s your religion?” was a quick C of E or RC, possibly born of having to give an answer of some sort in the services – atheists didn’t have to go to church after a Sunday church parade but they usually finished up peeling spuds in the cookhouse for Sunday dinner. That sort of legend lingers on.
Considering how much we hear about extremism amongst Muslims in particular, I find it strange that our own brand of religion hasn’t shown any sort of revival. However, when you find that few school leavers from our comprehensive system can even recite The Lord’s Prayer, perhaps that is hardly surprising.
And what is the C of E doing about it? Are they out in the schools and on the streets reviving the missionary zeal of former times? No, they’re deeply studying their navels and worrying about the tiny, tiny minority of LBGT so-called christians, that most people really don’t want to know about – a minority so deprived of the love of their fellow human beings since the dawn of time that they were considered outcasts of society.
People urge us to cast aside such prejudices these days, which perhaps is not such a bad thing – ” Love thy neighbour as thyself” and all that but, like racial prejudice, it works both ways – or should.
People who are aware of their differences often tend to wear a huge chip on their shoulders. Sensible people try to rise above prejudice and those people who recognise their difference (mainly immigrants ‘of colour’), who ‘keep their heads down’ and integrate with the great native British majority find that they are accepted without difficulty. More and more, as time goes on.
The same ought to apply to those with gender problems, who ought to be able to do the same. Most so-called ‘straight’ people don’t dwell on their sexuality or lack of it. They get on with their lives and accept their lot. Perhaps the LBGT society should consider not drawing attention to themselves and accept their lot too.
Discrimination is part of life. If we didn’t discriminate nothing would get done. We would poison ourselves and our lives. But, of course, there is discrimination and DISCRIMINATION.
“Love thy neighbour as thyself” – yes, but we all know that we sometimes don’t love ourselves very much. We know – even if we don’t admit – our own faults. How much more do we see others’? We forgive ourselves: why can’t we forgive others?
The world religions have developed from theories and practices over thousands of years. Most define a decent way of life to allow their believers to live comfortably and safely together in social harmony. Most have developed to the point where their principles are widely accepted and learnt at mother’s knee. Most have risen above the necessity for authoritarian (and often bigoted and corrupt) priesthoods that chivvy people to the church or temple or synagogue or wherever.
Is that why Christianity as such has taken a back seat? Has the priesthood given up on itself? Does christian (with a small c) society no longer see a need for priests to monitor and cajole it to be good, do good?
We Brits are renowned worldwide for our charitable generosity – we are second to none in our giving to causes, so clearly our centuries old teachings are still there. Perhaps all that is needed is for people to recognise their origins and, like other religions, give christianity its due and own up again to being C of E, RC or NC.