This terrible stupidity and hypocrisy leave one almost speechless. It is bad enough that university students are anxious to censor others and deny them access to proper debate. That is to undermine the very nature of a university, a place where people can think and discuss the unthinkable.
What is worse is that the repression of Christian groups is the height of hypocrisy. For the most unacceptable of what many Christian students believe is pretty much what many Muslims believe, only Muslims go much further. There are plenty of Muslim students, not least among the activists that so alarm the government that it is asking university authorities to spy on them, who believe not just that homosexuality is an abomination but also that women and infidels are inferior. Yet can anyone imagine that any student association would suspend a Muslim group for its homophobia, exclusivity, discrimination against women and infidels.
Last week the Church of England’s secretary general stated without any of the usual emollient Anglican waffle that Prince Charles’s wish for a multi-faith coronation was unacceptable. John Sentamu, the charismatic Archbishop of York, made an impassioned protest against such things earlier this month. He accused the BBC of bias against Christianity while favouring Muslims out of fear of terrorism. And he accused this society more broadly of disliking its own culture. “This country disbelieves in itself in an amazing way,” he said, and he has lamented the destruction of Britain’s Christian heritage by the wilfulness of the chattering classes.
He is right, of course; when you throw the baby Jesus out with the bath water, you lose the cultural water along with the baby to some extent. Sentamu stands for Christian and post-Christian values in the face of competition from other cultures. So too does another Anglican bishop, the eloquent Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester. Both have the credibility of people who are not white natives and both have known hardship and repression.
White native Anglicans are often less impressive; our own Archbishop of Canterbury gives out mixed and muddled messages. If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? Fortunately there are others who are prepared to the battle — the repressed young Christian students, the Ugandan Sentamu, the Asian Nazir-Ali of Muslim antecedents. They understand conviction; they understand what we face.
They are a bizarre army to come to the defence of what’s best about faithless, post-Christian Britain; it has taken this strange collection to convince me that disestablishment of the Anglican church would be a disaster for this country; paradoxically, it would bring down the last best defence here against the evils of religion. We are lucky that there is new life in these Christian soldiers. -
The Sunday Times,November 19, 2006' Hallelujah, they're standing up for Jesus, Minette Marrin