Is Islamic extremism the biggest threat to the United Kingdom?

So I’m getting angry again and I feel like I should try and say something, in a way which is clear and calls a spade a spade. 

Dearest friends and readers, for those who are unaware the city of London expericed what is being referred to as “terrorist attack” by Scotland Yard. 

At the time of writing this article it is unknown as to whether the attack is motivated by a Muslim in light of extremist attacks that have taken place in continental Europe over recent months. This has not, however, stopped the right-wing media, nationalist organisations and hate groups from reporting that the attack was carried out by a Muslim with extremist beliefs and calling for the persecution of Muslims. 

In a world which is becoming increasingly distrustful of Muslims of all varieties, now is the time that we call for tolerance, acceptance and peace. Jesus would have done exactly the same and we as a people of God need to remember Jesus’ “new commandment” found in John’s gospel. 

34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’ (John 13:34-35, NRSVA)

It is my own personal opinion that this is the greatest of all commandments and should extend to those that we ought to love as well. 

Guess what? 

That includes our brothers and sisters of all religious backgrounds and traditions, including Muslims. 

The hatred in some of the posts I’ve seen over the last few hours has sickened me to the very bottom of my stomach. The vast majority of these posts have come from supposedly Christian friends who think it is perfectly acceptable to marginalise Muslims and brand them all with the “extremist” descriptor. How anybody is of the opinion that these two ideas go hand in hand is beyond me. 

I think that the biggest threat to the United Kingdom is extreme nationalism and bigotry which is presented as nationalism. If you’re going to be racist, please do it publically and present your view in a way so that others have a chance to respond instead of being so wrapped up in a world where you don’t have to think for yourself and decide that the image presented of the few is indeed the identity of the many. 

Having lived in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country where Islam is the state religion, I have met a great number of liberal and conservative Muslims who are as worried about being attacked as we are in the West. The Muslims that I know and hold dear to me have started to face oppression, abuse and persecution purely because of their faith. 

In the West we pride ourselves on being a pluralistic society, a society which celebrates the differences that make us unique, until of course it starts to infringe on what believe to be our civil liberties, because after all it is our country

If I could have one wish, it would be that we have the respect to treat our Muslim brothers and sisters with the care, compassion and grace that we know God shows to everyone of his people, regardless of whether they’re Christian or not.  

In conclusion, no, Islamic Extremism is not the biggest threat to national security; bigotry, hatred and intolerance are. 

Every Blessing

J

Advertisements

The fight for equality, or do we mean equity? 

This little post is about to make a small point that some are failing to see.

I felt compelled to write this article in the hope that it might start to shift the attitude and move some folk towards a more understanding viewpoint.

For those not aware, the general assembly of the United Reformed Church voted last year to leave the decision about equal marriage to the individual churches within the denomination, and instructed them that a decision should be reached by the church meeting as to whether they wanted to register the premises for the celebration of same-sex marriage ceremonies.

My church is now in the process of making the decision and I want to make a point. 

Many young people and those who are au fait with LGBT politics and etiquette are not in the habit of referring to such ceremonies as “gay marriage” or “same-sex marriage”, on the whole they would much rather refer to this fight  as “Equal Marriage”. Many nowadays are starting to move away from stigmatising the situation with the terms mentioned and many have stopped making sweeping statements about the community as they realise that we are just like them. 

But is this fair? 

It is great news that many are now starting to see that all the LGBT community wants is a level of equality. But is equality really fair? I don’t think so. In some respects, the community has come on leaps and bounds in terms of equality, recognition and awareness but I feel that there is still a little more to be done for the community. 

My point is this; should we be more interested in equality or justice? Justice for the community would be having equal marriage for some Christians who want to make a promise to each other, in front of their God. At the end of the day, not every church in the world is ever going to get anywhere near having equality and justice for the LGBT community but those that have the opportunity to ought to embrace that they are able to celebrate with their LGBT siblings. 

This is not about whether individuals would be willing to take part in the ceremonies but more about letting those with pastoral and spiritual need being able to make a commitment to each other for the rest of their lives and go forward in life with God’s blessing to live a life of happiness, love  and grace together. 

I’d like to leave you with a small cartoon that reflects my point in what it has to say. I claim no artistic authorship of this cartoon, it merely helps me. 

Every Blessing
J

What the hell is “Christian” identity?

Today’s post is going to talk about something I think needs addressing about modern identity of “Christians” in what is becoming an increasingly pluralistic society, even amongst Christians and their communities. 

Today I saw an article that a friend had posted and the headline caught my eye and captured my mind. The article was entitled “F-Bombs and Bikinis” and was aimed at discussing Christian identity in the modern world. 

The very same friend who shared the article has very recently called me “the most irreverent, foul-mouthed Christian” that ze has ever met. Now, ze’s a minister of a church in the UK and must have encountered many people like me and , and heaven knows I’m not the first, and neither is ze, for a point of reference. 

I smoke, I drink, I’m foul-mouthed at times, I’m gay, I’m not afraid to speak my mind and I’m incredibly liberal when it comes to most social issues. 

Now, people when they first meet me, and I trust them quickly, learn about my faith but I’ve seen the same reaction a number of times both in and out of a church environment. Some are blown away by their first impression and just assume that I’m some Queen who likes to “throw shade” for fun. They couldn’t be further from the truth. My faith is a central part of my life, the thing that guides my morals, the thing that guides some of my behaviour, through charity, love and grace. 

Alternative ways that Christians express themselves are starting to become more common place now amongst all denominations. Within my own tradition we celebrate the differences that makes us one united church, one body of Christ. However, within the tradition we have many different smaller traditions and these smaller traditions have variations of their own! There are a group of Christians though who seem to be redefining what it is to be a “Christian”. 

Personally, I get involved with a large amount of national youth events and have helped to plan one of them. On the whole, young people today tend to see their faith more as something to be lived out and not something that they possess. Jesus calls us to love one another, to make disciples and to share that peace that he gave us. 

Some of us may look different, some of us may act differently, some of us may love differently, some of us may have some habits that traditionally have been view as immoral, but we are as committed to our faith, to our Lord and our God as those who like to criticise us.

I’ll let you in on a little secret now, one that some people will try and deny. God loves alternative Christians as much as he does others, and His grace and his love is extended to us in exactly the same way that is to every other Christian. 

Just because some of us feel more comfortable in expressing ourselves and our faith in an alternative way doesn’t make it any less valid. 
God loves each and everyone one of us because of our differences and not in spite of them. 

God Bless