The Simon Barrow Column

Reflecting on how Christian political imagination can help change society's agenda. Follow Simon on Twitter here: www.twitter.com/simonbarrow

  • 6 Jun 2013

    As a Christian think-tank concerned to promote a theological vision of equality in partnership with those of other beliefs and life-stances, Ekklesia is pleased to be part of the new Fair Admissions Campaign (FAC) for publicly funded schools. The initiative seeks to bring equity to a system that should be a beacon of justice and inclusion, yet is mired in discrimination. Simon Barrow explains why he believes that this issue should matter to all of us, both people of faith and people of good faith but not religious belief. Here he looks at it from a specifically Christian viewpoint.

  • 31 May 2013

    Two rural congreagtions say they will vote to leave the Church of Scotland over possible further ordinations of lesbian and gay ministers. In truth, the landscape is changing, says Simon Barrow. Larger numbers may well stay or join the Kirk if it ends its rejection of same-sex relationships, than will leave for the same reason. The refuseniks are looking back, not forward.

  • 25 May 2013

    The Church of Scotland has agreed to maintain a status quo precluding further ordinations of gay and lesbian clergy, while permitting local congregations to do exactly the opposite – if a suitably crafted church law can be agreed next year. That’s a big ‘if’, says Simon Barrow. As a statement of theological principle, this settlement risks looking a mess. In worldly terms it is classic coalition government. But it raises the key question as to whether the coalition can hold.

  • 21 May 2013

    The Church of Scotland vote to allow civil partnered gay and lesbian ministers, despite no change in the official teaching on sexuality, shows that the drift towards accepting gay people in the Kirk is continuing, says Simon Barrow. Indeed, while seeking pastoral sensitivity towards their opponents, the advocates of change believe that full inclusion is now inevitable.

  • 12 Apr 2013

    There are many important issues in public life right now, but for a large number of people in Scotland the future of football, the national game, is no small matter, says Simon Barrow. It is not just about sport, it is also about people, communities, hopes and dreams, culture and values. Put bluntly, who does (and who should) own a sport loved by hundreds of thousands? Whose interests are being served by the way it is presently being run?

  • 29 Mar 2013

    Christians need to re-envision the meaning of the Cross in history and in our culture, such that we are equipped to go and do the Gospel that shapes us in a confused, broken, unjust and often violent world, says Simon Barrow. This will help us see that it is not true that the only ‘weapons’ at the Church's disposal are not the coercive ones wielded by our opponents. Rather, God’s cross points to the resources of suffering love that only the God of life can offer, because they are ‘beyond our means’ humanly, but not beyond divine gifting.

  • 16 Mar 2013

    When Pope Francis first emerged into the blinking glare of global publicity, most people had little idea who he was, says Simon Barrow. The initial attempts to fill the media void with headlines, soundbites and images still leaves us bereft of deeper understanding. We need time to grow that, and to realise that it is the fruits of action rather than heated rhetoric that will get us closer to the complexity of truth.

  • 23 Jan 2013

    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.

  • 7 Dec 2012

    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.

  • 27 Nov 2012

    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.

  • 23 Nov 2012

    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.

  • 3 Nov 2012

    There is room for real, substantial reform to the EU budget and many other aspects of the functioning and policy of European institutions, says Simon Barrow. But to address these issues properly, Britain’s political leaders should abandon rather than feed the narrow Westminster mindset that the recent EU budget row exemplifies.

  • 9 Oct 2012

    With 'the big three' parties all singing from the same austerity hymn sheet and promising cuts in social security that differ mainly in degree, says Simon Barrow, it is surely the most vulnerable in society who are set to be the biggest losers from the conference season political jamborees.

  • 1 Oct 2012

    Now that the medals have long been awarded, the plaudits made and the ceremonies completed, the final Olympic and Paralympic contest is underway, notes Simon Barrow. Who will claim political gold in the much-publicized Games ‘legacy’ race?

  • 2 Sep 2012

    In 2011, the International Panel on the State of the Oceans (IPSO), representing all marine science bodies, concluded that, “the world’s ocean is at high risk of entering a phase of extinction… unprecedented in human history.” Simon Barrow explores the issue of water from a biblical perspective.