Christian Concern For Our Nation (CCFON) launched a new campaign yesterday (21 September) entitled “Not Ashamed”. It aims to encourage Christians to “stand up for Jesus Christ in public life”.
I am not ashamed to be a Christian active in public life, but I will not be wearing one of the “Not Ashamed” badges. This is because the campaign aims to encourage only a certain sort of Christian to engage in particular forms of public life.
The campaign is based on the false premise that Christians as a group are facing “discrimination” in Britain. For CCFON, every case they work on has to be wedged into their narrative about the supposed marginalisation of British Christians.
Yet the cases cited in support of this view are widely varied. Some have clearly involved an abuse of civil liberties – though usually due to authoritarian uniform codes and the like rather than anti-Christian prejudice. Others have been about the “right” of Christians to practise discrimination themselves. Most have been complex and confused by a range of individual circumstances.
The Christian Legal Centre (CLC), which is closely linked with CCFON, has taken on many of these “discrimination” cases at a legal level. Yet I know several Christians whose faith has motivated them to take action that lands them in court, but who never hear from the CLC.
How about the three Catholics who recently cut through the fence at the Aldermaston nuclear base and declared it “open for decommissioning”? What of those whose Christianity leads them to take nonviolent direct action at the biennial London Arms Fair? Or Christians who are moved to shelter refused asylum-seekers, destitute and desperate to avoid deportation back to oppression?
Does the CLC ever contact any of these people? And if not, why not?
The reality is that CCFON define Christian political engagement very narrowly. They speak of the “right to life”, yet have encouraged support for the Christian Party, a right-wing grouping keen for the UK government to retain its nuclear weapons. Former Archbishop George Carey, who is acting as a spokesperson for the “Not Ashamed” campaign, has said publicly that Britain should be proud of its arms industry.
The “Not Ashamed” campaign fails to promote the breadth and depth of Christian engagement in public life and thus does a disservice to the cause it claims to champion.
Like so many other initiatives, it gives the impression that British Christians are a paranoid group concerned only with their own interests and clinging desperately onto privileges which compromise their integrity.
And that really is something to be ashamed of.