The Symon Hill Column

Ekklesia associate director Symon Hill reflects on religion, society and politics

  • 28 Nov 2011

    The UK government is demanding payment from Egypt for money loaned to Mubarak to help him to buy weapons. The money is claimed by the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD), a secretive unit of Vince Cable's Department for Business. It has a habit of backing arms deals and fossil fuels and creating unjust debt.

  • 28 Oct 2011

    Where would Jesus be in in the current situation involving St Paul's Cathedral and the Occupy London movement? Symon Hill asks: Would he be camping outside in this freezing weather, speaking out against inequality, or inside the religious building, worrying about the revenue from tourists?

  • 27 Sep 2011

    This week, I spoke about the arms trade at a fringe meeting at the Labour Party annual conference. I urged the Labour Party to move away from the enthusiasm for the arms trade that it has shown in the past and take a stand against the influence of arms companies within government.

  • 20 Sep 2011

    This summer, I walked from Birmingham to London as a pilgrimage of repentance for my former homophobia. I feel like I'm only just beginning to understand what I learnt on the walk. Here I reflect on the experience and on the lessons I learnt.

  • 20 Aug 2011

    Britain may be broke, but the government's desperation to cut the deficit seems to have its limits. This morning, Eric Pickles has ruled out an increase in council tax for houses valued at more than £1million. He is portraying measures that would affect only the richest as an attack on the "middle class". In reality, the government is consistent in pursuing the interests of the very wealthy at the expense of the rest of us.

  • 12 Aug 2011

    Right-wing columnists are having a field day in the wake of the riots, demonising single parents, benefit recipients and working class people generally. To be consistent in condemning looting, we should criticise not only the rioters but the wealthy bankers and politicians who are looting our society.

  • 18 Jul 2011

    It's just over two weeks since I finished my pilgrimage of repentance for homophobia. In many ways, I'm only just beginning to realise how the pilgrimage has affected me. It's taught me a lot about prayer and hospitality, and developed my thoughts on the way that change happens in Church and society. Now I have a lot more questions.

  • 14 Jun 2011

    In 1997, I described opposition to same-sex relationships as being a matter of "God's opinion", rather than my own. This week, I will begin a walk of 160 miles from Birmingham to London as a pilgrimage of repentance for my former homophobia. As I prepare to begin walking tomorrow, this article explains what led me to do this.

  • 8 Jun 2011

    Concerns about young people have made the news this week. There are fears of "sexualisation" and "radicalisation". Both words imply that young people cannot make choices themselves, but only passively accept what is imposed on them. And they distract attention from the policies of a government which is set to wreck the opportunities of countless young people.

  • 18 May 2011

    To tackle homophobia, we need to understand it. Recent years have seen a backlash against LGBT rights in the UK. This is partly because changing views on sexuality have become a focus for people alarmed by the declining status of what they regard as Christian morality. But it's not a morality that has much in common with the teachings and lifestyle of Jesus.

  • 17 Apr 2011

    Quakers take pride in the history of nineteenth-century Quaker employers, many known for their progressive thinking. Some have suggested that they can now be a model for us in developing a form of "ethical capitalism". But the most forward-thinking nineteenth century Quakers called not for philanthropy but for fundamental change to the economic system. Their example can inspire us to reject capitalism altogether and to seek alternatives.

  • 5 Apr 2011

    British Quakers have announced that they are calling for a boycott of goods from Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This is a brave decision, given the volume of abuse, hate mail and downright lies that faced the Methodist Church when they made a similar decision. With this in mind, there are important points that must be remembered about the Quakers' position.

  • 30 Mar 2011

    Millions of people across north Africa and the Middle East have are demonstrating the power of active nonviolence. But British politicians and pundits seem to have learnt no lessons, falling in line behind the bombing of Libya as soon as Cameron announced it. In the face of all the evidence, they are accepting the old assumption that violence works.

  • 8 Mar 2011

    Defence Secretary Liam Fox is pushing through an Armed Forces Bill that will make no meaningful changes to the armed forces. Fox and his allies use gung-ho rhetoric about "supporting our boys" while neglecting the human rights of forces personnel.

  • 4 Feb 2011

    Armed forces chaplains play a crucial role in providing pastoral support to people who face danger and death on a daily basis. But chaplains' independence is compromised by the fact that they are members of the forces themselves. Churches that take a stand on wider issues of peace and war are rarely willing to question the ethics of the armed forces. Why has this situation arisen? And how can we change it?