Canon Michael Ainsworth, a priest and colleague of mine just a couple of miles from my rectory in the City of London, was recently attacked in his churchyard by three youths. Michael suffered two black eyes, cuts and bruises. He was taken into hospital and his wife Janina, also a priest, said: “It’s obvious that the attack on Michael does contain a religious element.” It certainly is obvious: his attackers shouted, “You f*kcing priest!” as they beat him up.
* Muslims see the West as decadent and degenerated, without values, Christianity in decline, a tired civilization that is in decay and ready for the the final conquest. Because all the world belongs to Allah and the spoils belong to the followers of the prophet, who are commanded to kill and die to make Islam the only religion .
Quran-9:111: Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain…
This is the second time that Michael’s church has been attacked. After the Good Friday service last year, louts threw bricks through the windows. A parishioner, Susan Crocker, said: “It’s not out of the blue – it’s a recurrent problem.”
Well, it’s clear that the yobs who attacked Michael were Muslims. To their credit, the local Muslim leaders have tacitly admitted this by publicly deploring the crime. So why were the police, and much of the media, so vague as to call these thugs “Asians”? If I smashed the windows of a Brick Lane curry house and gave the manager two black eyes, you can be sure the police and the papers wouldn’t describe me as a “European”.
Of course the authorities excuse their evasiveness by saying it’s to preserve good racial and community relationships, forgetting that it was Michael’s attackers who first damaged these relationships and that appeasement always encourages worse violence in the long run.
This attack was one small example of the persecution being endured by the Church worldwide. On four continents Islamic militants are attacking and sometimes murdering Christians and burning down churches. Why do the archbishops and bishops not lead mass Christian demonstrations against these atrocities? Instead, we have to observe the filigree intelligence of the Archbishop of Canterbury as it operates on the precise relation between English law and some “unavoidable” accommodation with sharia. He, with his whole hierarchy, strains at gnats and swallows camels.
Meanwhile, a Nigerian archbishop said that Dr Williams’s words hardly made things better for Christians persecuted under sharia in his country. “Their lives,” he said, “are at the very least unbearable.” If Dr Williams is so intelligent, shouldn’t he have known beforehand that his remarks would only give encouragement to the fanatics? If I tried to walk down the main street in Riyadh wearing my clerical collar, the religious police would throw me into jail. In Britain we allow Muslims to build huge mosques in prominent places such as Regent’s Park. What does this say about the relationship between Christianity and Islam worldwide?
Urgent though it is, the threat from a murderous jihad is not the worst we have to face at Easter 2008. Any civilisation has a hope of defending itself against even the most ruthless enemy so long as it preserves the integrity of its own culture and traditions. But for 40 years our governments in Britain have done nothing but undermine the essential quality of our way of life. Those elected to defend the realm have destroyed it. The shepherds are hirelings.
The authority of Parliament is a joke in an age ruled by spin and the Prime Minister’s gang of party interest. New Labour has created its own client state out of millions on benefits and 800,000 new civil servants, bribed by the sort of job security and pension entitlements long vanished in the private sector. Public services are near collapse – try getting anywhere by road or rail this holiday weekend. The NHS is a disgrace. “State education” is an oxymoron. The Government loses our national records and lately there have been convictions for vote-rigging.
We might have expected the Church to resist the decay, but instead it has connived with the destructive sexual and social revolution begun in the 1960s. Back then, I voted for homosexuality to be decriminalised. But this meant “between consenting adults in private” – where “between” meant two, “adults” meant men over 21 and “private” meant behind locked doors. I did not foresee the obscene and coercive “Gay Pride” pantomimes that now disfigure our high streets.
Who would have thought we would live to see the Bishop of Hereford fined Â£47,000 and made to attend a re-education course because he refused to employ a practising homosexual in his diocese’s youth services? How long before I am carted from the pulpit to the nick for preaching that sodomy is not morally equivalent to Christian marriage?
I voted also for abortion law reform, because I was told it would put an end to squalid back-street terminations. I did not think I would see the result: 200,000 abortions every year and most as a form of contraception.
We imagine we can ditch Christianity and yet the good things we have inherited in our way of life will continue. They will not. Christianity formed Western civilisation and is so consubstantial with it that if Christianity goes, the lot goes with it. Let T?S Eliot, writing in 1934, give us a text to think about this Easter: “Do you need to be told that even such modest attainments as you can boast in the way of polite society will hardly survive the Faith to which they owe their significance?”
* The Rev Dr Peter Mullen is Rector of St Michael’s, Cornhill and Chaplain to the Stock Exchange