Thursday, December 06, 2007

UK 'must celebrate Christianity'


Has anyone noticed something about the Royal Mail designs for the Christmas stamps this year? While the Madonna and Child are not quite to Cranmer’s taste, the Church of England has welcomed the return to a religious theme after criticism of the last year’s decidedly secular issue. But for the first time since Christmas stamps were introduced in 1966, the Royal Mail has issued two designs for 1st and 2nd class post.

Why?

Could it possibly be that because the Madonna and Child stamps constitute a distinctly Christian theme, that the alternative inoffensive angels are available just in case the secularists or those of a minority faith should complain? And have you noticed how the less offensive designs helpfully have the words 'peace' and 'goodwill' prominently displayed, just to ensure the Islamists get the message?

But since Royal Mail insists on alternating religious and secular themes, will there be a Christian alternative next year just in case the Christians are offended by Widow Twanky, Cinderella or Aladdin?

And Cranmer wants to know why the Royal Mail insists on alternating a secular theme with a religious one in any case. Christian themes should feature on Christmas stamps every year. Or is the reality of the generic angel alternative a further indication that all things overtly Christian are being subsumed to the twin pincer movement of Islam and secularism.

It is one thing (though wholly laudable) to initiate a debate Christianophobia in Parliament; but it is quite another to suffer persecution in the marketplace for seeking to confront the zeitgeist head-on. As Alistair Burt MP observes:

"That Christianity has a pre-eminent position in British life in comparison to other religions is not wrong. It is not a case of equality. Of course, the practice of all religions should be free, fair and equal, but that Christianity is pre-eminent is not through any attack on equality; it is an acknowledgment of its role in creating the tolerant, free and democratic society that we all enjoy. If we lose that, will it damage the Church and affect the faith of millions in Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour? No, it will not. The nation, however, would lose far more in terms of what the Christian faith can contribute to the life of the nation, to its civic society, its voluntary groups, or anything else. The Church does not need contemporary Britain, but does contemporary Britain need the Church? You bet it does."

Yet one dare not assert the necessary and logical corollary of this, for to make explicit the clear implications could have political consequences of Powellite proportions.

18 Comments:

Anonymous And a happy christmas to you said...

Your Grace

I saw some proper advent calendars celebrating the birth of Christ on sale at WH Smith in the Ilford Exchange yesterday.

Such a refreshing change from those ghastly football club advent calanders we seen in recent years.

There is hope yet.

6 December 2007 at 07:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed the UK must celebrate Christianity - but it is Christians who must lead this celebration. "Shout it from the rooftops" be the Church Militant and witness to one's faith through prayer and actions. It is a dangerous paradigm where religion exists on state funding: buy the religious theme stamps if they are available. If they are not, then buy suitable stickers with the Nativity as their theme and make sure you stock up on regular stamps in October.

6 December 2007 at 07:57  
Blogger Surreptitious Evil said...

The point shouldn't be whether Christianity should have precedence in the UK but whether Christianity should have precedence in the celebration of Christmas, over both other religions and secular society.

The fact that then Christmas is a more significant national holiday in the UK is due to the clever timing by the early church (Yule et al), history and culture and the number of (at least nominal) Christians in the UK.

I wouldn't particularly have problems with the Royal Mail issuing stamps to celebrate Diwali or Eid - that is a commercial / PR decision for a secular body - and I would expect the stamps to appropriately represent the religions to whom those celebrations are important. Of course, in the latter case, I would also expect riots, calls for beheading of Adam Crozier, burning of British embassies etc, as the Queen's head would be appearing on the stamps in contravention (as I understand it) of strict Sharia law ...

6 December 2007 at 09:03  
Anonymous asian colonial subject said...

Wow, Alistair Burt sure is a daring to speak in such strong terms.

Looks like there still exists fragments of God's blessings to England.

6 December 2007 at 09:21  
Anonymous asian colonial subject said...

I would like to petition Your Grace to give your insights into the burning down and crumbling of the world wide Anglican Communion while Archbishop Williams fiddles in Lambeth Palace.

6 December 2007 at 09:26  
Anonymous An atheist reader said...

"Yet one dare not assert the necessary and logical corollary of this, for to make explicit the clear implications could have political consequences of Powellite proportions."

It is unlike Your Grace to back away from a challenge, is it not?

6 December 2007 at 11:33  
Blogger AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

that Christianity is pre-eminent is ... an acknowledgment of its role in creating the tolerant, free and democratic society that we all enjoy

Burt neglects to mention the burnings, torturings, etc, that were perpetrated in Christ's name before the state tamed the church in England, and the appalling resurgence of religious violence in Northern Ireland in the last century. The implied notion that the rule of law somehow proceeds from Christianity in a way that that is unique to Christianity has a sappy feel-good quality about it that perhaps should be put on a stamp.

6 December 2007 at 11:52  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

Aethelbald,

As a Catholic king, you should know better.

6 December 2007 at 12:57  
Blogger Rockfall said...

Aethelbald:

As a historian, I'd like to draw your attention to the point that the Curia of the Roman Catholic Church and the papal legislation was probably the best preserver of the Roman law our own law is based on for the centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire. Of course Christianity is not the sole font of Western legal thinking, but monastic and papal archives kept a good deal of classical literature and laws alives during the incorrectly named 'Dark Ages'.

And if by 'burnings, torturings etc' you're referring to past events such as the witchburning craze of early modern period, and the interdenominational massacres of the Wars of Religion, then any historian worth his salt would point out to you that at work in all those cases were far more pressures and causes than mere religion.

And if you think that Northern Ireland was purely down to religion...

I will concede your point that the modern concept of the rule of law proceded out of Christianity is inaccurate - many of the Englightenment thinkers for whom we have to thank for this were, after all, atheistic.
However, 'many' is the key word.

6 December 2007 at 16:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This seems to be a case of the Royal Mail going further than secularists want. As a 'millitant' atheist myself, the idea I would be offended by seeing a christian symbol on a stamp at christmas is laughable.

Now when are us Atheists going to be represented, say putting a picture of Richard Dawkings on one of the stamps :)

PS A debate on Christianophobia in Parliament? Ha! Bit rich considering all the seats they give bishops in the house of lords.

6 December 2007 at 18:12  
Anonymous the last toryboy said...

Paranoia really, I went to a carol service at the local football stadium the other day - it was packed.

Christianity isn't in danger of dying out...

6 December 2007 at 19:17  
Anonymous asian colonial subject said...

"Burt neglects to mention the burnings, torturings, etc, that were perpetrated in Christ's name before the state tamed the church in England, and the appalling resurgence of religious violence in Northern Ireland in the last century. The implied notion that the rule of law somehow proceeds from Christianity in a way that that is unique to Christianity has a sappy feel-good quality about it that perhaps should be put on a stamp."

If the fact that religious violence is an argument against values of rule of law coming from religion, shall we infer likewise from the violence of the French revolutionaries of freedom that therefore liberty and other enlightenment values did not contribute to the establishment of rule of law in nations?

Let's us not forget Madame Roland's famous words before she was guillotined,

"O Liberty, O Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name!"

6 December 2007 at 21:21  
Anonymous billy said...

"Now when are us Atheists going to be represented, say putting a picture of Richard Dawkings on one of the stamps :)"

Perhaps his picture could go on the back of the stamp; I'd be happy to spit on it.

6 December 2007 at 23:01  
Blogger Rockfall said...

Ironically, you'd probably just get thousands of people licking him every day.

There's a thought.

7 December 2007 at 00:50  
Blogger Homophobic Horse said...

Yes but, Dawkins is actually quite a handsome man on the whole really don't you think so?

7 December 2007 at 03:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is an early Christmas present from the pope to his deluded followers. It goes to show protestants that Rome has not and will not change.

No-one forgives sins but God.



http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/12/06/wpope106.xml

This move by the pope is to help the Vaticans new services to Lourdes http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6965124.stm

7 December 2007 at 14:55  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Alistair is a burk.
"...free and democratic society..."
yeah like the role the church played in Franco's Spain and the Dutch Reformed Church in South Africa.
Disestablish the Church of England!

10 December 2007 at 14:19  
Anonymous Dave Bartlett said...

Writing in the Independent, Dominic Lawson said:

"...should not the Church of England look at its own performance and try to understand why it has lost such a vast proportion of its audience – at least as defined by regular churchgoing, rather than notional affiliation?"

That seems like an important debate for the church to have, and soon.

10 December 2007 at 20:24  

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