This week (20 January 2013) the thinktank Demos (“ideas and action to promote the common good”) has published its report Faithful Providers, which argues that faith-based organisations should be used more as public service providers. Simon Barrow offers an initial response, highlighting some of the problematic assumptions and stances within the report, setting out the background to successive government's interest in co-opting faith providers, and pointing towards a more radical Christian stance which roots service in a tradition of modelling and advocating a different social order based on justice and equality.
When those in power disregard human rights and undermine the rule of law, the results can be horrific, observes Savitri Hensman, commenting on recent developments in Sri Lanka. It is to be hoped that, today, non-violent means of resistance will be used, as Sri Lankans and those who care about Sri Lanka seek to defend democracy and civil liberties.
While Christians should indeed examine social and cultural changes critically, the fearfulness of the Pope about shifting attitudes to gender and sexual orientation seems excessive, says Savitri Hensman. Christmas should be a time of celebration in response to God’s generous love, through which barriers are broken down and humanity’s potential fulfilled.
The contemporary Christmas - a fusion of more than one mythic truth - may so easily draw us into the trap of indulgence without festival, says Jill Segger. She suggests that we celebrate best when we do so with the needy.
On the matter of marriage equality, the recent UK government announcement focused less on the loving hope of those who will gain, and more on others’ fears, in response to the negativity of some church leaders who oppose change, notes Savitri Hensman. The public image this projects is strongly discriminatory, and the churches are missing a huge opportunity to witness to the all-embracing love of God.
The assertion that “those at the top and those at the bottom are being hit hardest” by the government's austerity policies suggests a misleading equivalence, says Simon Barrow. In reality it is those with least who are being punished most.
Setting the Church of England free would be in its own interests, says Simon Barrow, as the disestablishment debate rears its head again following the General Synod debacle over women bishops. The Christian religion’s claim to truth and authority resides neither in state nor market, but in systems of belief and community which it should be capable of developing through bodies that are part of civic society.
The Church of England’s attempts to placate a small minority strongly opposed to women’s ordination have plunged it into crisis, without satisfying these opponents, says Savi Hensman. What is the way forward now? Deep theological and practical questions need to be addressed, and the answers explained in ways that those who are not professional theologians can understand.
Judging from the volumes of media coverage and online comment the goings on at this week's General Synod have generated, popular nerves have definitely been touched. But of what kind and to what effect? Simon Barrow explores the case for establishing the independence of church and state, in this article looking at the issue primarily in terms of societal pluralism, but noting the theological concerns which are actually central to the case Ekklesia wishes to make for disestablishment.
Theologian Tryon Edwards has suggested right actions in the future are the best apologies for bad actions in the past. In that sense, says Jonathan Bartley, true apologies are yet to be forthcoming in many areas of public life today.