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In this essay, the author gives an overview of some entrenched problems infecting religion and politics in the contemporary Middle East. His chief concerns include the plight and status of historic Christian communities, the treatment of minorities, violence and oppression sanctioned by corrupt regimes and totalitarian religious ideologies, the incohence of strategies towards Israel-Palestine, and the damaging failure of many Western policies and prescriptions. But while being tough-minded about the complex and interrelated factors which entrench these problems, Politics, Religion and the Middle East is also hopeful. The seeds of change are also to be found amidst confusion and terror. Popular movements to challenge top-down political rule and concerted efforts by faith communities to educate their peoples to accept and respect the other, rather than kill or ostracise, are both vital, he says. Above all, the true diversity of the Middle East region needs to be acknowledged, celebrated and protected by law.
In the Annual Constantinople Lecture 2010, sponsored by the Anglican and Eastern Churches Association and promoted by Ekklesia, international ecumenical, political and legal consultant Harry Hagopian addresses the complex historical, political and psychological issues arising from Turkey’s continued denial of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1923, viewing it in relation to the Jewish and Rwandan genocides later that century. He also offers a deeply Christian perspective on the tragedy, seeing the way forward as located not just in political change but as a ‘healing process’ between peoples and nations - something that can be a source of hope for the world and for the benefit of both Armenians and Turks.
Attempts to justify the controversial Anglican Covenant have failed to convince its critics. In the run-up to a debate in the Church of England’s General Synod in November 2010, a number of commentators have warned that the proposals are likely to do more harm than good. This paper sets out some of the key arguments.
In the face of sweeping public spending cuts and a UK government economic strategy which targets the poor to pay for a crisis produced by the wealthy, a group of Christians in public life (activists, ministers and theologians) have issued this statement calling for Christian unity with others in the movement to resist the cuts in public and welfare provision. It urges the churches to be wary about being co-opted into the Big Society initiative - which it calls 'a big lie' in economic terms. The document articulates a radical theological critique of government policies and the social and economic order they seek to maintain. It is rooted in an alternative vision based on strong Christian roots and wide solidarities, arguing for a Common Wealth that expresses the central dynamics of the Gospel message. The statement is also a call to form a network of discernment, resistance and creativity in the generation of fresh approaches to the shared life of people and planet.
The way Christians dispute and decide among themselves can be confusing for insiders and outsiders alike. The relative value, importance and emphasis on the Bible, tradition, reason and experience is often not perceived with any clarity, and terms like ‘liberal’, ‘literalist’ and ‘traditionalist’ are thrown around in the religious and secular media in a fairly cavalier fashion – often more to win arguments than shed light. In this essay, Savitri Hensman explores, through three straightforward examples, the actual way human beings appeal to text, to history, to rational thought and to their personal apprehensions. She demonstrates that trying to behave as if they were wholly independent is unfeasible as well as undesirable. Hensman also shows that the valid interpretation and application of Scripture in the life and ethics of the Christian community requires a willingness to listen and learn widely, and a shared commitment to a Gospel of loving transformation realised in the flesh, not in texts and arguments alone.
Remembrance day: Goodbye to all that Guardian leader based on Ekklesia's 2009 report Reimagining Remembrance
Voters turn on main parties, Independent front page, reporting Ekklesia's survey results on independent politics, during the scandal over MP's expenses
Rebranding St George, The Times about Ekklesia's 2008 report on British identity
The Daily Telegraph on Ekklesia's 2007 proposals that the symbols we use to remember war, should involve those symbolising a commitment to peace
Guardian education features Ekklesia's 2006 report on alleged marginalisation of religion in universities, and proposals for addressing it
Fear or Freedom?: Why a Warring Church Must Change by Simon Barrow (Ed)
The Subversive Manifesto: Lifting the Lid on God's Political Agenda by Jonathan Bartley
Faith and Politics After Christendom: The Church as a Movement for Anarchy by Jonathan Bartley
Consuming Passion: Why the Killing of Jesus Really Matters by Simon Barrow and Jonathan Bartley (Eds)
Threatened with Resurrection: The Difficult Peace of Christ by Simon Barrow