The Symon Hill Column

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

  • 15 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?

  • 1 Jan 2011

    For some activists, resisting the government's cuts means abandoning other campaigns, such as the struggle for queer rights and same-sex marriage. But they are making a false distinction. Issues of marriage and sexuality are closely linked to questions of power and money.

  • 10 Dec 2010

    When I became a Christian, I mistakenly accepted homophobic views and campaigned against same-sex relationships. I'm appalled that I did this. Now I'm planning to walk from Birmingham to London as a pilgrimage of repentance.

  • 1 Dec 2010

    I am not ashamed to be a Christian active in public life, but I am not backing the "Not Ashamed" campaign or marking Not Ashamed Day. The campaign aims to encourage only a certain sort of Christian to engage in particular forms of public life.

  • 18 Nov 2010

    "Sex and violence" is a hot-button phrase that if often used without thinking. But what do sex and violence really have to do with one another? Christians should be untangling the connection between them, but instead we seem to be contributing to the confusion.

  • 5 Nov 2010

    As arms companies target university careers fairs, they may be hoping that the economic situation will encourage graduates to work for them. But a wave of student protests have broken out at graduate recruitment events across the UK, suggesting that students are more unwilling than ever to use their skills in the service of a trade that fuels war and perpetuates poverty.

  • 24 Oct 2010

    For some Christians, coalition cuts and the "Big Society" are an opportunity for churches to extend their influence by taking over services run by the state. But the Gospel is not about increasing our own influence. In seeking to love our neighbours as ourselves, we need to be ready to stand up and resist a vicious assault on the welfare state.

  • 29 Sep 2010

    The media has been buzzing with reports that the number of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in Britain does not appear to be as high as previously thought. But arguments over the accuracy of the figures suggest that those on both sides are misguided. Categorising people on the basis of their sexual orientation advances neither equality nor our understanding of sexual diversity.