Friday, August 22, 2008

Church petitions for Welsh Olympic team

As previously surmised, the forces of devolution are gathering apace and the church is complicit. The campaign for a Welsh team in the 2012 Olympic Games has been stepped up with the launch of a national petition to the Welsh Assembly.

Someone ought to tell the church in Wales that this is not a devolved competence, though there is no telling where the agitation might lead.

The petition is by one Dr Geraint Tudur, general secretary of the Union of Welsh Independent Chapels, who declares: ‘We call upon the National Assembly for Wales to ensure that a team from Wales competes in the 2012 Olympic Games, and every subsequent games thereafter.’

What is it with these Christians? Do they not realise that they are wasting their time in their preoccupation with leeks and thistles? Their citizenship is in heaven, and the Lord is not overly concerned with a liberation theology to address Welsh or Scottish subjugation.

Dr Tudur renewed the call for national representation on the world stage ‘following the Red Dragon banner ban in Beijing’ (Cranmer must have missed it). The Union of Welsh Independent Chapels has already asked the National Assembly Government to press on the IOC to allow Wales to compete as a nation in its own right in the London Olympics. "If you think that Wales has a right to exist as a nation on the world stage, I would urge you to sign this petition," said Dr Tudur. "The campaign to ensure that our athletes can compete under the Red Dragon in London begins here and now."

But the call may have less to do with Welsh patriotism than with the deep unease amongst chapel members about the loss of around £100m in grants to Welsh charities and societies due to the escalating cost of the 2012 games.

The petition runs until the end of October 2008, and Cranmer urges no-one to sign.

Do they not realise that if Wales were competing independently as a nation, it would presently be languishing somewhere around the 40th position? Scotland would be around the 20th position, but England would still be soaring.

And united, Team GB presently stands at third.

The Olympics vindicate the Union.


Anonymous Mr Graham said...

I imagine Mr Tudor was referring to the fact that any other flag than the Union Flag, i.e Saltire, St George's Cross or Welsh Dragon are seen by the IOC as "political" and are therefore banned.

As a Scotsman, I say quite right too. The team is Great Britain, not Wales, England or Scotland. Sounds so simple, it's just a shame that these churches can't get on with their job and calling of proclaiming Christ instead of engaging in petty examples of small-minded nationalism.

22 August 2008 at 12:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must say that I find that image rather offensive...

22 August 2008 at 13:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the dragon is an unfortunate symbol for anyone promoting christianity!

22 August 2008 at 13:12  
Anonymous oiznop said...

Unite your kingdoms and do better in the leagues tables?

Is that why Russia is annexing Ukraine?

22 August 2008 at 13:42  
Anonymous oiznop said...

Unite your kingdoms and do better in the leagues tables?

Is that why Russia is annexing Ukraine?

22 August 2008 at 13:43  
Blogger Surreptitious Evil said...

The fact that the Chinese decided to ban the flags of any organisation, nation or otherwise, not formally participating at the Olympics is, as I expect most of you know, entirely down to their wish to obscure any protests regarding Tibet.

The fact that this blocked UK athletes and supporters from displaying the national flags of the constituent parts of the UK is a, possibly unfortunate, side effect.

Actually, as the Welsh have 2 individual golds and one from a team with 3 English members (men's pursuit cycling) - they would be somewhere between 17th and 29th places.

22 August 2008 at 13:50  
Anonymous Mr Graham said...

Are you sure it is not a directive from the IOC?

Years ago, I remember when Alan Baxter (he of Aviemore, bronze medal winning and positive drug test fame) died his hair to make a Saltire. He was ordered to either cover it up or dye his hair in order to get rid of the so called "political statement".

22 August 2008 at 14:10  
Blogger Alun Lenny said...

This matter transcends politics.It is a matter of natural justice. The Welsh are an invisible nation in Beijing due to the Chinese state's totalitarian insistence on banning all except IOP state-member banners, in order to give the impression of unity within its borders. Remember - this is a state which deals violently with religious,linguistic and cultural minorities. Depriving a nation (be it Tibet or Wales) of its identity is a great injustice. Surely, it is our Christian duty to make a non-violent stand against injustice - as Dr Tudur and the Union of Welsh Independent Churches
(which has 450 non-conformist chapels in Wales) is doing by asking for fair play for this small nation of ours.

22 August 2008 at 14:43  
Blogger The Black Fingernail said...

Alun Lenny - he's not just talking about China. Tudor wants Wales in London in 2012, and as far as I'm aware the UK doesn't 'deal violently with religious, linguistic and cultural minorities'. This is narrow nationalism and nothing to do with 'Christian duty' against an oppressive regime like China.

22 August 2008 at 14:48  
Blogger Alun Lenny said...

Enforcement comes in many forms ; but which ever way you look at it the Welsh are not allowed their national identity at the Olympic Games. In other sports (rugby, football,hockey, darts etc )we have Welsh teams. So why should athletics be an exception ? And why should asking for this be termed 'narrow nationalism'?

22 August 2008 at 15:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I try very hard hard I might be able to summon up the merest hint of an abilty to care about waving the Welsh Dragon or the St Andrew's croos.


22 August 2008 at 15:20  
Anonymous Treforus said...

The 450 Independent Chapels Mr Lenny refers to have pitiful congregations and are closing by the dozen(I attend one,does Mr Lenny?).

At present we have the absurd Dr Barry Morgan,Archbishop of Wales,prattling on about lawmaking powers for the Welsh Assembly whilst his congregations evaporate.Isn't there one Welsh Church leader prepared to propound the Gospel these days instead of spouting politics?

22 August 2008 at 20:09  
Blogger Wyrdtimes said...


You're more likely to see icebergs in hell than the so called "Church of England" standing up for England or the English.

22 August 2008 at 20:18  
Blogger Hiraeth said...

Might I note that Dr. Tudur's name is not spelt Tudor. If he's the chap who used to be minister at Ebeneser here in Cardiff, he's only too aware of the crisis of Welsh Christianity. His father wrote the book on the subject (available from University of Wales Press, £35).

Seriously, the point is that a person may support law making powers for the Welsh Assembly (I do), or a Welsh Olympic team (I don't). Barry Morgan and Geraint Tudur ae entitled to hold those opinions. But they should not pretend to speak on them with the authority of the Church. One reason for the decline of Christianity in Wales is the bane of the political preacher. Dr. Lloyd-Jones called them Judases, and I do not believe he was wrong.

Treforus, if you wish to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ sounding forth from a Welsh pulpit and happen to be in Cardiff any Sunday soon, come along to Heath Evangelical Church, there are over 400 in a normal congregation, and you'd be assured of sound teaching and a real Welsh welcome!

22 August 2008 at 22:38  
Blogger Alun Lenny said...

In answer to Treforus' question : Yes, I do attend an Independent chapel. In fact, I'm just about to leave to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in one of those chapels in Carmarthen - an area where a recent service drew 400+ Welsh Independent Christians of all ages to hear Dr Geraint Tudur preach on the Birth, Death and Resurrection of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit.

In answer to Hiraeth's comment : Dr Tudur's authority is not pretence. He was mandated to take up the Olympic issue on behalf of the Welsh Independent Union's 30,000 members, following a vote by chapel representatives at the Union's annual meetings at Swansea last month.

As Congregationalist, our only authority is the Holy Spirit - Yr Ysbryd Glan. In all our doings - this one included - we strive to seek the Spirit's guidance. On issues of social justice we believe that Christians have a duty to speak out - otherwise, we'd still have a slave trade !

Many may not agree. Fair enough. I'm just explaining how we do things, and how this Olympic petition came about.

24 August 2008 at 11:51  
Anonymous Gwynedd Evans said...

This whole petition business is exemplary of why our chapels and churches are emptying. The latest report - to be published in the series Contemporary Wales - shows that Wales's Christianity is in much more of a decline than that in England and Scotland. Why? Because we spend our time on matters that are not directly relevant to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ wants us to proclaim his love and fellowship to the world -- let's do this first, let's tell people about the Gospel -- then we can spend time doing these indirect little things like arguing for a flag. The denomination of Welsh Independents needs to consider where its leadership is taking them -- has it become just a protest movement? does it still use the Bible as its source of relevation?

24 August 2008 at 14:06  
Anonymous Elwyn Williams said...

Excellent points Gwynedd Evans! Taro'r hoelen ar ei phen!

As a member of this denomination - and someone who does try both on Sundays and during the week to share the Good News with those I work and socialize with, trying to assure them that Christ died for me and is offering salvation, I find my albeit meagre attempts ridiculed by no-one else than the General Secretary of my own denomination.

Why can we not concentrate on the Word of God -- let's bring the Welsh people to a stage where they read and discuss what Christ has to offer them. If the denomination spent a quarter of the energy that it spends on promoting nationalism, flag-waving, local-shopping and a Federal University on bringing Wales back to Christ - we would be a far, far better and more decent nation.

I'm reaching the stage in my life where I now believe that closing our chapels and starting afresh may the only way forward. With the Independents behaving as they are we will not be long getting there!!! At least then we will start again but this time with the Bible as centrepiece.

24 August 2008 at 15:34  
Anonymous Elfryn (Morgan) said...

Thank you to Gwilym Owen in this week's Cymro for bringing this matter to its head.

If this is the most important issue that Welsh Christians can bring to the headlines we should close our churches and chapels today! Have I heard anything from the Independents on Gerogia and Russia? on CADW's regulations regarding our churches and chapels? on Cardinal Newman's body transfer to another site against his death wishes? on the increase in the number of students completing RI exams - why is this happening while our places of worhsip are empty? on Lampeter - University of Wales's (with it theological connections) demise? on plans to limit under 21 drinking? These are matters the Church can turn to Biblical teaching to guide its view rather than depend on personal whims -- but no, we hear nothing. A very sad, sad state of affairs.

30 August 2008 at 08:47  
Blogger Hiraeth said...

Mr. Lenny, I accept your comment that Dr. Tudur was mandated to make this request by the Union of Welsh Independents. That being the case, the fault lies not with Dr. Tudur, but with the denomination. It was this sort of political posturing that gutted Welsh Christianity.

I also happen to agree that Christians have a duty to speak out and to act on matters of social justice. The question of whether there should be a Welsh team in the Olympics happens not to be one of these, and to claim otherwise is pure hyperbole. We should not be in the business of claiming the authority of the Holy Spirit on issues such as this. To do so is to be perilously close to blasphemy.

I also happen to believe that churches, as churches, should NOT adopt political positions as a general rule.

Let the churches preach the Gospel of Jesus. By all means individula members should take part in politics, but as citizens, not claiming the exclusive endorsement of God. I am a Tory, but when I pray in church, I do so among Liberals, Labour voters and Nationalists, as well as those of no particular political stripe, as children of God seeking to be obedient to His will and redeemed through the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

I have the greatest respect for Dr. Tudur, and to the best of my knowledge, he is a faithful preacher and pastor. On this matter, however, I believe he would have been better advised to tell the members of the Union of welsh Independents that the Union had no more business pronouncing on this matter than on the colour of the First Minister's curtains, and that if they believe there should be a Welsh Olympic teams they ought to write to their MP or AM. That is what politically involved people do in the Chapel I am fortunate to be a member of.

30 August 2008 at 23:10  
Blogger Chalcedon said...

Have a count up and you will see the EU won the olympic games re medals. Not that this matters one iota. It was utterly tedious, boring and a waste of time and money.

31 August 2008 at 18:53  

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