Building on Shifting Sands
Prime Minister Tony Blair claims that “whatever our faults, Britain is a very moral nation with a strong sense of right and wrong, and that moral fibre will defeat the fanaticism of terrorists and their supporters”. Drawing attention to this statement, a writer in The Scotsman of 30 October 2001 comments that “Britain no longer has a collective sense of what it does or does not believe in. . . . It is certainly no longer a church-going Christian country. . . . It may even be fair to argue that Britain no longer has a moral order.”
The treatment of the situation in Northern Ireland by Mr Blair and his Government illustrates the disintegration, through the ongoing national abandonment of the Biblical and Protestant Christianity which produced it, of such moral fibre as this nation once had. The limited and secretive “decommissioning” of arms by the IRA, in response to fears of a loss of revenue and support from the USA in the wake of the events of 11 September, is deceitfully presented as a concession on the part of the terrorists and hailed by the political leaders of Britain and the USA as a basis on which to “respond generously” and make further concessions to the demands of this terrorist organisation.
The Prime Minister, who has been touring the world to rally international support in the battle against global terrorism, continues to capitulate to the cunning manipulation of events by UK terrorists and those who speak for them. The RUC becomes the Police Service of Northern Ireland, without royal insignia in its badge and with a requirement that at least 50% of new recruits be Roman Catholics. The capacity of the security forces in South Armagh is reduced, even though to go about his duty there a policeman requires a contingent of soldiers to accompany him. Secretary of State John Reid says that an amnesty will be offered to people charged with offences committed before the “Good Friday” agreement was signed in 1998. When the “democratic process” which has been imposed on the people of Northern Ireland fails to deliver the desired result, barefaced political manoeuvring is employed to change the result and Mr Trimble is reappointed as First Minister.
That Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, with their history, are prominent in supporting the “peace process” would suggest that, together with the background fear of a return to greater violence, it is delivering what they desire. It is also clear that they have reason to believe, from their contacts with the British Government, that it will continue to deliver. In calling for what has been called “decommissioning”, Adams urged Irish Republicans who want to see a United Ireland to stand firm, saying that “this is the time for very clear minds and very brave hearts”. By a combination of violence and deceit, the aims of the terrorists are being progressively achieved.
The lack of moral fibre and honesty is too generally characteristic of political life in Great Britain today and it would be even more obvious were the inside story of Government dealings with Northern Ireland to be known. “They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and a double heart do they speak” (Ps 12: 2).
Moves are afoot to introduce legislation into the Westminster and Holyrood Parliaments to make incitement to religious hatred a criminal offence and to increase penalties for crimes in which religious hatred is a motivating factor. Earlier in the year Mr Donald Gorrie MSP requested comments on a draft bill on Sectarianism which he proposed to introduce to the Scottish Parliament. In response, the Synod in May 2001 stated that they “recognize the concerns which Mr Gorrie’s proposed Bill seeks to address. They regard all activities which can be legitimately described as harassment as unacceptable but consider that the law is already capable of dealing with it, whatever its cause. The Synod envisage legislation of the kind proposed easily becoming a tool for those seeking to suppress legitimate views and criticisms and Biblical evangelism. They therefore strongly oppose the proposed Bill and urge Mr Gorrie to abandon it.”
The Religion and Morals Report to the 2000 Synod stated: “It has become common for those who put forward even the most reasoned argument for the biblical position on any subject to be labelled and dismissed as hardliners or bigots. There may well be reason to fear that in the current climate of ‘tolerance’ it may become an offence to proclaim what we believe to be the truth concerning religions and practices which deviate from, or contradict, the Word of God. None can be more fiercely intolerant than the humanistically or morally or religiously liberal, when confronted by absolute truth.”
These concerns are strengthened by the drive in recent months by politicians to secure the support of Islamic nations for the coalition against terrorism by going out of their way to profess admiration for Islam. The advocates of Islam make full use of the freedom which they have in Britain to advocate their religion. The British Government praises this religion although it oppresses Christians whenever it has power to do so. And the freedom to criticise Islam is threatened by the tendency to identify such criticism with racism. False religions and immoral ways of life claim protection from human-rights legislation. The Biblical religion to which this nation is still formally committed is treated with contempt and its voice is ignored or suppressed.
There seems to be widespread public concern regarding the implications of the proposed legislation and every effort should be made to persuade MPs and MSPs to resist these proposals.
The UK Home Secretary, Mr David Blunkett, has announced that cannabis is to be reclassified from Class B to Class C, putting it on a par with certain prescription anti-depressants. Possession of the drug will still be illegal but users will get away with no more than a police warning. In other words, possession of cannabis in small amounts will be no longer an arrestable offence and use of it will be effectively decriminalised.
A spokesman for the national Drug Prevention Alliance said, “Research shows that whenever drug laws are relaxed, the use of drugs increases dramatically”. As it is, cocaine use has soared fivefold among young people over the past two years. It will increase, we fear, still more with the increased use of cannabis. Mr Keith Hellawell, who was formerly in charge of implementing the Government’s policy on drugs, recently stated that all heroin addicts he had met said their substance abuse began with cannabis.
In any case, cannabis itself is harmful. The country’s leading drugs expert, Professor John Henry, of St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, warned: “Scientific studies show overwhelmingly that cannabis use causes physical and mental harm”. Baroness Susan Greenfield, Professor of Pharmacology at Oxford University, agrees: “A fundamental fallacy lies at the heart of the calls to decriminalise cannabis. This is the belief that the drug is essentially harmless. As a neuroscientist, I have been convinced by in-depth research that this is untrue. In fact, there is a wealth of evidence to show that cannabis may be dangerous, causing permanent long-term damage to the brain and undermining the mental health of users.”
We do acknowledge that the police have difficulty in controlling the use of cannabis in certain areas, but we are convinced that decriminalising it, actually or effectively, is not the way forward and runs quite counter to the Biblical requirement, “Do thyself no harm”.
Marriage and Scottish Schools
The largest Scottish teachers union, the Educational Institute of Scotland, urges its members not to suggest to their pupils that homosexual relationships are “second best” to marriage. In a booklet about “gay and lesbian equality”, it says that teachers should have a nondiscriminatory approach to sex education and should not criticise “alternative” relationships. Union general secretary Ronnie Smith said: “The clear message is that prejudice and discrimination against gay and lesbian people of any age has no place in our education system”.
From press reports it appears that the booklet advocates an approach to sex education which amounts to another attack on the traditional family unit and the divine ordinance of marriage. Not only so but teaching which puts homosexual relationships on a par with marriage militates against the moral welfare of the children. What our young people need to have instilled into them is that marriage is appointed by God and provides the best environment in which to grow up. Homosexual relationships are worse than second best; they are sinful, and offensive to our Divine Creator.
During assembly at a Church of England primary school last month, Rev T Goode, vicar of Vernham Dean church in Hampshire, told the children that it was not Father Christmas but their parents who brought their presents. The teachers acted swiftly, we are told, to assure the children that Santa Claus really does exist. The parent of one pupil stated, “I was horrified. . . . No wonder Christianity is on the downturn.” The same parent has complained to the head and governors of the school, and they have expressed their displeasure at what the clergyman has done and say that they are “in talks with the Church”.
This is all symptomatic of the spiritual darkness which pervades society. The reaction of the parents and teachers is not surprising when most of the Christian Church assiduously peddles the popish invention of Christmas, and when in many churches there are blasphemous representations of the child Jesus in the manger. Even some sections of the Church which profess to follow the regulative principle succumb to the spirit of the age by, for example, having Christmas carol services.
Those who are concerned to honour Christ in a Scriptural manner will adhere to the principle that only what God has prescribed in His Word is to be used in His worship, and will distance themselves from the Christ-dishonouring practices of the so-called festive season.
Who is Fundamentally Unpatriotic?
British people who hold “Eurosceptic” views are “fundamentally unpatriotic”, claimed Foreign Office Minister Mr Peter Hain recently as he promoted the European Union. But what are we to say of those who are prepared to transfer the framing of our economic and fiscal policy to bureaucrats that are not accountable either to the government or the electorate in Britain? They are far from being patriotic! And what of those who are happy to substitute Corpus Juris, a legal system that regards accused persons as guilty until they are proved innocent, for the Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus and the Declaration of Rights, which enshrine the fundamental rights and liberties we enjoy? Surely their attitude is the opposite of patriotism.
It was a great blessing for the Israelites in Old Testament times that God gave them their own land and established the true religion among them. It is no less a blessing to the British people today to have their own country from the “King of nations”, and to have the civil and religious liberties and Protestant constitution which were obtained at the price even of life itself on the part of those who were “valiant for the truth” and “loved not their lives unto the death”.
To hold fast our civil and religious liberties is not only scriptural patriotism but also a duty. However, we fear that we have so despised them, and the God who has bestowed them upon us, that we are being left in His displeasure to be swallowed up by this confederacy which has been inspired by Rome, and in which Rome has its hand on the helm. May God be merciful to us and turn us again to Himself!