A group of Christians will join republican protests this weekend to call for a 'real jubilee' that celebrates justice, peace and the equality of all people as created in the image of God.
They believe that this reflects the original, biblical meaning of jubilee. They described Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee this weekend as “a celebration devoted to monarchy and military might”.
Christianity Uncut, an anti-capitalist network whose supporters include clergy, theologians and writers, pointed out that 'jubilee' is a biblical idea that was originally about a time of justice, when slaves were freed, debts cancelled and equal relationships restored.
They say that at a time of cuts and huge gaps between rich and poor, this is the jubilee our society really needs.
Rev Gareth Hughes, Church of England chaplain at Hertford College, Oxford, explained: “The concept of 'jubilee' is an ancient Near Eastern practice of restitution, including the forgiveness of debts. In Leviticus 25, it is demanded of God's people as a rebalancing of society."
He added, “Whereas our society is crying out for this kind of jubilee, what we are given is an expensive personality cult”.
The group Republic, which includes people of many religions and of none, are expecting their demonstration on Sunday to be the largest anti-monarchy protest for decades. Christianity Uncut's members are planning to be among the demonstrators.
Christian writer and activist Symon Hill said that many streams of Christianity have a long tradition of opposition to earthly monarchs. He explained, “Early Christians were persecuted for refusing to say 'Caesar is Lord'. Christ is my Lord, my King, my Queen. I cannot bow to another.”
A number of Christian denominations, particularly the Church of England, have encouraged their congregations to hold services and other events to celebrate the royal jubilee.
Gareth Hughes said, “Whilst these may serve some good in celebrating community, there is the danger that the focus will be on an earthly monarch and vague ideas of nation rather than on the King and Kingdom of Heaven”.
Symon Hill insisted that the protests were not about undermining fun and festivities. He said, “This weekend, we are invited to celebrate wealth and privilege as many people suffer from vicious cuts to public services and rising unemployment. Instead, let's have a better type of party. Let's celebrate love, justice and the hope of a different sort of society.”
Also on Ekklesia: 'Alternative perspectives on the Jubilee', a research paper by Bernadette Meaden - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/16697