The Queen's Visit to a Mosque
It saddened many Christians that her Majesty the Queen made
her first visit to a British mosque in the cause of inter-faith tolerance.
On July 31 she entered the Islamic centre in Scunthorpe and went to the extent
of removing her shoes to do so. Despite concerns expressed by what the press
called "traditional Protestants", Buckingham Palace said she was determined
to recognise the growth in religious and cultural diversity in the past 50
Of course, Muslim leaders understand the importance of her
visit for their religion. A member of the mosque made the point that she
is their Queen and that her visit was a tribute to the 3.5 million Muslims
in the United Kingdom. But we cannot agree that in order for the Queen to
acknowledge her Muslim
subjects it was necessary for her thus to recognise their
religion, which is the antithesis of Biblical Christianity.
We also believe that her action will be read by many as a
signal that Christianity is not the exclusive religion it claims to be,
that Christ is not the only way to God, and that all faiths are on an equal
footing. Christ Himself states with crystal clarity and divine authority: "I
am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh to the Father but by
Me" (John 14:6).
May the day speedily come when our Queen will no longer give
recognition to multi-faith religion but will openly defend the faith she
has solemnly pledged to uphold. Among the questions she was asked at her
coronation was, "Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the laws
of God, the true profession of the gospel and the Protestant reformed religion
established by law . . . ?" "All this I promise to do," she replied. She
then laid her hand on the Bible and said, "The things which I have here
before promised, I will perform and keep. So help me God."
Let us pray that she would be so helped. "I exhort therefore,
that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of
thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority;
that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will
have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1
The Free Church and the APCs
One would think that a meeting of a body bearing the imposing
title, "The General Assembly of the Associated Presbyterian Churches of
Scotland and Canada", would attract much media attention. The APC Press
Officer, who found it so easy in 1989 to move journalists to provide many
column inches of publicity in the national press, must be experiencing
hard times. It would seem that the only organ to report on their Assembly
is The APC News!
From this source we discover that the Assembly "enacted and
ordained" the establishment between the APCs and the Free Church of Scotland
of "such a relationship as shall manifest the essential unity of these
churches, their separate and independent jurisdiction being always preserved".
These words, however carefully crafted, still savour of compromise and
opportunism. They are found in the preamble to the "mutual eligibility" agreement
which provides, among other things, for recognising "as to status Ordained
Ministers, Probationers and Elders of the Free Church of Scotland as if
they were their own; and the Ministers, Probationers and Elders of that
Church shall thus be eligible for Call/transfer by any Congregation of
this Church as if they were already Ministers, Probationers or Elders of
In view of the tense relationship between the Free Church
of Scotland and the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing), we find it odd,
to say the least, that delegates from both these bodies were present and
spoke at this Assembly. One would think that the "mutual eligibility" terms
should have excluded the Rev A I MacIver, the Free Church (Continuing)
delegate, whereas the Rev John MacLean, the Free Church representative,
would have been cordially embraced! We wonder if the fact that they were
photographed separately has any significance? It is remarkable that the
Free Church (Continuing), who claim to be the true Disruption Church, in
the resumé of their history found on the internet, do not even mention
the 1893 separation. The Free Church, also making the same claim, regard
this separation as unnecessary and even schismatic! How inconvenient it
must be to all concerned that we exist!
We are glad that, by the grace of God, the Free Presbyterian
Church of Scotland, to which, we believe, the constitution of the Disruption
Free Church of Scotland was entrusted in 1893, is not involved in these
ecclesiastical manoeuvrings. We are happy to remain "separated brethren" until
the Spirit shall be poured out from on high. Not till then, as the Rev
Neil Cameron expressed it, will the shattered fragments of the Church of
Christ in Scotland be gathered together in one body. Until then our watchword
will, we hope, continue to be: "Let them return unto thee, but return not
thou unto them".
Blasphemy Law Proposals
"The House of Lords has set up a committee which is expected
to recommend the abolition of the law against blasphemy and its replacement
by a new offence of inciting religious hatred," reports Christian Voice, which
encourages Christians to e-mail the committee, requesting that the law
be retained as it is.
In 1995, the veteran anti-Christian campaigner Lord Avebury,
a Buddhist, brought in a Blasphemy (abolition) Bill, which was defeated.
He has reworked it into a new Religious Offences Bill, and has added the "religious
hatred" provisions which the House of Lords threw out of the Government's
Terrorism Bill. His new Bill was given a Second Reading by the House of
Lords in January, but the Bill has been put on the Parliamentary waiting
list, while the 12-strong Select Committee considers the matter.
It is not too late for individuals or churches to make a
submission. The key point to stress is, as Christian Voice states,
that blasphemy is not so much an offence against Christians or the Church
as an offence against God Himself. The address to write to is: The Clerk
of the Select Committee on Religious Offences, Committee House, House of
Lords, London, SW1A 0PW. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A briefing paper may be obtained from Christian Voice, PO Box 739A, Surbiton,
European Law Threatens Christian Publications
The Europe correspondent of the English Churchman reports
that "the day when Christian literature could be banned in Britain has
come several steps closer following the European Parliament's support for
a report proposing to punish the publication and distribution of 'racist'
or 'xenophobic' material across the EU". "Racism" would be held to include
being "averse to individuals or groups" based on one's religious beliefs.
The new offences are defined as "public dissemination or distribution of
tracts, pictures, or other material containing expression of racism or
xenophobia", and national laws to implement the EU Council of Ministers'
decision would have to be enacted in member countries no later than 30
The report recommended that the manufacture, distribution
and private possession of "racist and xenophobic material" should be punishable
throughout the European Union by jail sentences of between six months and
two years, and that legislation must cover material on websites and private
communications by e-mail. The English Churchman says that "Christian
literature is considered to be highly vulnerable to prosecution under these
draconian laws" and adds that, under such legislation, many of Christ's
strictures of the Pharisees would probably have been punishable by imprisonment.
At the very least, the above information should send us to
our knees, if we have a due appreciation of the preciousness of our religious
and civil freedoms. "Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail: let the heathen
be judged in Thy sight. Put them in fear, O Lord: that the nations may
know themselves to be but men" (Ps 9:19,20).
A briefing paper on this proposed law, with specific reference
to possible problems for Christians, is available free from Mr Tony Bennett,
66 Chippingfield, Harlow, Essex CM17 ODJ (tel 01279 635789).