The Religion and Morals Report to the 2000 Synod referred to “the totally irrational and unprincipled attitude of those in government to the situation in Northern Ireland. Men were admitted to government in Northern Ireland whose sworn aim is to destroy that government. . . . As one concession after another has been made in the interests of the desired peace, the threat of renewed violence has been kept in reserve as a lever to force further movement in the direction sought by the IRA and their democratic front . . . . Morally indignant over terrorism in distant lands, the Government has treated the terrorists of Northern Ireland with kid gloves. Situations are engineered in which the democratic process is made to appear impossible and then the breakdown of the democratic process is used to justify the resort to threat in order further to promote their own aims.”
Referring to the people of Northern Ireland, the Religion and Morals Report to the 2001 Synod noted that “they are expected to regard the inspection of weapons dumps belonging to the IRA by a former Finnish President and a former ANC leader as a very substantial step towards peace, and to share the Prime Minister’s amazement at the progress made, although the IRA are said to possess sufficient arms to sustain a campaign of terror for at least a decade. The bombing of the BBC in London in March 2001 is a reminder that terrorists will not cease their efforts until either they are dealt with as terrorists should be dealt with or they achieve their aim of removing British authority from Northern Ireland.”
The unprecedented nature of the tragedy inflicted by terrorists in their wicked attacks on New York and Washington has deeply affected all right-thinking persons and caused the Lord’s people to frequent the throne of grace. The individual, family and institutional effects of the carnage wrought are incalculable, not to speak of the horror of so many precious souls being hurried into eternity in a moment of time. It is undoubtedly the case that the perpetrators of this crime and those who shield them should be brought to justice. However, the justifiable determination with which the Prime Minister and his Government devote themselves to the destruction of terrorism throughout the world is difficult to reconcile with the concessions which they have been making to terrorists within the British Isles.
What need there is to pray that our leaders, in formulating their policies, would be motivated by the fear of God and by single-minded endeavour to act in accordance with His revealed will! The absence of this fear and endeavour are indicated by the manifest inconsistency of their attitudes to terrorism, their reliance upon the arm of flesh, their continued undermining of true religion and morality in national life, and their futile attempts to win or retain friends by their protestations regarding their respect for Islam.
But our resort must be to God who has the hearts of all in His hand and can turn them in whatever direction He wills. His promise concerning His Son is: “His name shall endure for ever: His name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in Him: all nations shall call Him blessed” (Ps 72:17). That is our encouragement in the darkest day.
The Anti-terrorist Coalition
Both the British Prime Minister and the President of the United States are using all available means to forge a coalition of nations that will stand united in support of the action taken against global terrorism and, in particular at this time, against Afghanistan. In their view, it is vitally necessary for this alliance to embrace Islamic nations, especially those of the Middle East and those bordering Afghanistan. With so much at stake, this is obviously politically expedient.
But is it a God-honouring coalition? We are being constantly told that this is not a war against Islam but against terrorism, and both Tony Blair and George W Bush, for political ends, are at great pains to lavish praise on Mohammedanism as “a religion of peace and tolerance”. How or where they discovered that is a mystery. It was not in the Koran, because the direction it gives is plain: “When you encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads, until ye have made a great slaughter among them” (Sura 47:4).
Yet George W Bush maintains that “the United States of America is an enemy of those who aid terrorists and of the barbaric criminals who profane a great religion by committing murder in its name”. Tony Blair’s “spin doctors” have let it be known that he always carries a copy of the Koran with him, and in order to curry the favour of British Mohammedan religious leaders he entertained them at Downing Street, no doubt assuring them that he is of the same mind as Mr Bush. “It is time the West confronted its ignorance of Islam”, he told the Labour Party Conference; “Jews, Muslims and Christians are all children of Abraham.” This is neither Biblically nor historically correct. The religion of Mohammed is of Satanic origin as surely as that of the Roman Antichrist, and all true Christians should regard both of them with abhorrence.
Spiritual darkness has surely enveloped the United States and Britain, both nominally Christian, when their leaders are prepared as a matter of political expediency to appease the enemies of Christ and His cause. This was made very plain when the initial attack on Afghanistan was ordered to take place on the Lord’s Day with bombs and cruise missiles being sent on their way, but when it came to the following Friday, the Mohammedan “holy” day, bombing was suspended for fear of offending the followers of that religion! “Them that honour me, I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.”
What was in the not-so-distant past regarded as worldly now quite often goes under the name of “culture”, which presumably explains why the Free Church of Scotland Hall in Stornoway was made available to the organisers of the Royal National Mod. We are informed that only competitions which had religious connotations were to be held in it, and the Deacons’ Court may well have felt that this justified their decision. But how does a secular society like An Comunn Gaidhealach come to be associated with what is ordinarily regarded as sacred? Is the introduction of Bible recitation and Psalm-singing in their competitions meant to give some sort of religious respectability to the Mod? Whatever way we look at it, it still remains difficult to get away from the thought that here we have a plain example of the Church walking with the world. We wonder if any members of the Deacons’ Court are yet spared who remember and sat under the ministry of the late Rev Kenneth A MacRae?
While on this subject and the mixing of the sacred with the secular, it is worth mentioning that, this year, the usual Gaelic service associated with the opening of the Mod was held in St Columba’s Church of Scotland, the officiating minister being the Rev Angus Morrison, formerly minister of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland in Oban and Edinburgh and the first signatory on the 1989 Deed of Separation of the Associated Presbyterian Churches.