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Monday, June 24, 2024

Persecution Without Martyrdom: Modern-day Britain's anti-Christian attitudes remain a cause for concern

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Persecution Without Martyrdom: Modern-day Britain's anti-Christian attitudes remain a cause for concern

In May this year, the Liberal Democrat party of Britain deselected David Campanale, a parliamentary candidate, due to his Anglican religion and anti-abortion views, in a move which critics have decried as a blatant breach of equality law.

According to The Telegraph, whistleblowers complained about the Liberal Democrats to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) on the grounds that the party has tolerated a “hostile environment” for people of faith, failed to probe grave accusations of discrimination and harassment and “emboldened those who believe Christians should be driven out of public life”.

Following a two-year campaign against the Anglican politician by members of his local party and some LGBT+ activists, Campanale was scheduled to be replaced as a prospective MP candidate, as per The Telegraph in May.

Moreover, the politician has been slammed for his links to the anti-abortion and anti-LGBT+ Christian People’s Alliance (CPA) political party, which he even subsequently criticized as having been “infiltrated by extremists.”

In turn, human rights advocate Benedict Rogers lambasted the move against Campanale as “persecution.”

The Campanale incident brings to mind Tim Farron’s move in 2017 to quit as the leader of the Liberal Democrat party, after he reasoned that “remaining faithful to Christ” was incompatible with leading the party.

Almost two hundred years after the anti-Catholic penal laws were repealed in Protestant England, the anti-Christian authorities had a bone to pick with Father Gough for simply declaring that he was praying for free speech and driving a car with a pro-life bumper sticker.

“From the very first day of my leadership, I have faced questions about my Christian faith. I’ve tried to answer with grace and patience. Sometimes my answers could have been wiser.The consequences of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader,” Farron declared in remarks cited by leftist news outlet The Guardian. 

“To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.”

Adding, Farron lamented:

“I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in. In which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant, liberal society.”

A recent survey mentioned by Premier Christian News (PCN) revealed that “75 percent of those expressing a view opposed Campanale's deselection, while only 25 per cent supported the decision.” Adding, PCN reported:

“A petition on CitizenGO calling for Campanale's reinstatement has gathered over 24,185 signatures to date. Several prominent Christian leaders have also shown support for Campanale including the Bishop of Winchester, Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen and the Bishop of Guildford, Rt Rev Andrew Watson. Bishop Watson told the Church Times he was ‘concerned that we don’t inadvertently drift into a society which discriminates against very able and compassionate people on the basis of their sincerely-held Christian convictions...The decision to deselect David, together with the hostile questioning to which he’s been subjected, seems to me a case in point. Much the same happened to Kate Forbes and the SNP, which makes me feel that it could be the beginning of a trend, which needs calling out.’”

In September 2022, Rev. Dr. Bernard Randall, an Anglican minister and a school chaplain, claimed that he was fired and branded as a terrorist for calling LGBT+ ideologies into question during a 2019 sermon.

Consequently, Trent College in Derbyshire, England, the school in which Randall was working at, reported him to the British government's counterterrorism watchdog, while his diocese blacklisted him as a “safeguarding risk” to children, as per Fox News reports.

Undaunted, Randall sued his former employer for discrimination, harassment, victimization and unfair dismissal, as per a statement from his legal counsel.

In February 2023, Catholic priest Father Sean Gough was charged for violating a censorship zone under the draconian Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), by silently praying and holding a sign with the words “praying for free speech,” near a closed abortion facility in Birmingham. The PSPO, which came into effect in 2022, bans prayer, disseminating information about pregnancy help services, and other activities regarded by the powers-that-be as“protest”.

The UK is now on an unsettling path that could potentially result in existential threats to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and even freedom of thought.

Almost two hundred years after the anti-Catholic penal laws were repealed in Protestant England, the anti-Christian authorities had a bone to pick with Father Gough for simply declaring that he was praying for free speech and driving a car with a pro-life bumper sticker.

Despite the fact that the abortion facility was closed at the time of Father Gough’s protest, he was accused of “intimidating service-users” of the baby-killing facility.

“I pray wherever I go, inside my head, for the people around me. How can it be a crime for a priest to pray? I often pray in my head near the abortion facility, but at the time in question, I was praying for free speech, which is under severe pressure in our country today. At all times, I believed my actions to be lawful – freedom of expression, especially when peaceful, is protected in domestic and international law. It is deeply undemocratic to censor public streets, particularly those spaces where we know that many women have benefitted from peaceful offers of help about services available,” Father Sean Gough asserted, in statements quoted by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International.

In March 2023, Father Gough’s case was mentioned when various US Congress members presented a letter penned by Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas that called on the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, Rashad Hussain, to tackle the deteriorating treatment of Christians in Britain.

“The UK is now on an unsettling path that could potentially result in existential threats to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and even freedom of thought,” the letter read.

Furthermore, Congress members noted  the recent legal action against Father Sean Gough as one of the instances of the “the British government’s violation of religious freedom.”

To add fuel to the fire, Canterbury Cathedral, the awe-inspiring and venerable site of Saint Thomas Becket’s martyrdom in the 12th century and the resting place of Cardinal Reginald Pole, the last Catholic archbishop of Canterbury, was outrageously profaned in February this year by thousands of revelers who partied the night away in an alcohol-filled disco setting.

Although both Christians and non-believers protested against this booze-laden party, the cathedral’s presiding dean, a gay man “married” to his partner, justified the event.

Dr. Cajetan Skowronski, a young Catholic physician from the nearby county of Sussex, organized a prayer vigil to protest against the cathedral’s disco event “with prayers, hymns and reading of Holy Scripture”, as per the National Catholic Register (NCR).

In the same place where Saint Thomas Becket’s  “brains were spilled on the floor,” Skowronski  elaborated, “someone is going to spill a rum and coke tonight. It’s really quite an awful thing to consider.”

In statements to the NCR, Skowronski explained the reasons for the vigil:

“It’s about protecting a sacred space from sacrilege. It’s a very misguided move by custodians of the cathedral who should know better than to be using it in this profane way.”

In the same place where Saint Thomas Becket’s  “brains were spilled on the floor,” Skowronski  elaborated, “someone is going to spill a rum and coke tonight. It’s really quite an awful thing to consider.”

What is more, a 2024 headline from The Telegraph that blasted “Ramadan lights on display in central London over Easterignited concerns among many.

As Ben Sixsmith pointed out in The Critic:

“More people in Britain — one can guess from the available statistics — are regular attendees of mosques than Anglican churches.”

Writer Capel Lofft penned in another article in The Critic lamenting how the secular West tried to abandon Christianity, much to its detriment:

“Most in the West who would now trumpet ‘human rights’ as their ‘core value’ no longer believe in God. Drill it down, and the idea that humans have an inherent worth and dignity that underpins their status as bearers of rights is, for them, a leap of faith, and one without a visible means of propulsion. It is a moral intuition that originated in Christianity and which people instinctively do not want to let go of even once belief in the Christian faith and its dogmas has largely disappeared. But they have no compelling basis for doing so: secular human rights talk is an edifice of arbitrary sentimentalism without any metaphysical foundations or scaffolding. The West climbed a Christian ladder to reach the heights of 1948, and then kicked it away. Intellectually, it’s been barely clinging on with its fingertips ever since.”

Likewise, Sixsmith reinforced the notion Britain cannot be a “culturally Christian” country without Christians, thus challenging atheist Richard Dawkins’ assertion that “I find that I like to live in a culturally Christian country, even though I do not believe a single word of the Christian faith.”

Indeed, as Sixsmith stated, Dawkins cannot have his cake and eat it, as Britain would need a pro-Christian environment with practicing Christians to be “atmospherically Christian” at the least. Dawkins cannot expect to reap the fruits of Christianity, including the moral and social order espoused by traditional Christian doctrine, without wanting to play a part in establishing that Christian order.

Needless to say, the heretical Anglican Church that broke off ties with the Barque of Saint Peter after King Henry VIII’s adulterous union with Anne Boleyn, cannot be counted upon to revive Christianity in Britain.

As per a 2021 census, Christians made up the minority of citizens in England and Wales for the first time, with those saying they had no religion also on the rise.

Unfortunately, just as Christianity has been on the decline in Britain, anti-Christian attitudes have been going on  for years in the territory. In 2009, then-primary school receptionist Jennie Cain was suspended for the “offense” of asking friends to pray for her when her daughter was reprimanded for “talking about Jesus” in school.

Also, in 2009,  The Guardian featured an article on Caroline Petrie, a nurse who was suspended for proposing to pray for a patient and for “failing to show a commitment to equality and diversity

Petrie, a Protestant, said at that time she merely asked if she could pray for the patient, instead of imposing her beliefs on the patient.

She stated: “I'm not angry, and I understand if people don't believe in the way that I do. But I am upset because I enjoy this job and it [prayer] is a valuable part of the care I give.”

No one who comes across these alarming headlines can deny any longer that there exists a palpable element of anti-Christian animosity in Britain. Yet King Charles III, who ascended the throne in 2023, told faith leaders at a Buckingham Palace reception in 2022 that although he was a “committed Anglican”, he had a “duty to protect the diversity of our country, including by protecting the space for faith itself and its practice through the religions, cultures, traditions and beliefs to which our hearts and minds direct us as individuals.”

Such is the dire state of Christianity in Britain that even Britain’s current Prime Minister, who recently came out in support of “assisted dying” (euthanasia), is not even remotely Christian.

Nearby Scotland saw Humza Yousaf as the first Muslim to serve as the country’s First Minister for a period of time. While Yousaf is gone from the post of Scottish First Minister, the ramifications of the Orwellian, pro-LGBT+ Hate Crime and Public Order Act that was introduced during Yousaf’s short stint in power continue to be felt as of the point of writing.

Rather, a revival of Christianity in Britain can only come with the instrumentality of the Catholic Church, founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Also, Britain must acknowledge its Catholic heritage and regret its tragic Protestant past in its “Christian revival”.

Needless to say, the heretical Anglican Church that broke off ties with the Barque of Saint Peter after King Henry VIII’s adulterous union with Anne Boleyn, cannot be counted upon to revive Christianity in Britain.

Rather, a revival of Christianity in Britain can only come with the instrumentality of the Catholic Church, founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Also, Britain must acknowledge its Catholic heritage and regret its tragic Protestant past in its “Christian revival”.

Thanks be to God, England was re-dedicated as the “dowry” of the Blessed Virgin Mary in recent times. With the help of Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother under Her title, “Our Lady of Walsingham”, we can hope that Britain’s Catholic Church, which traces its roots to great saints like Saint Augustine of Canterbury and Saint Edward the Confessor, and purified in the blood of martyrs like Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher, can triumphantly sing the beautiful hymn composed by Catholic convert and priest, Father Frederick Faber, titled “Faith of our Fathers”, in its cathedrals once again.

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Angeline Tan | Remnant Columnist, Singapore

Angeline is a Catholic writer who enjoys Catholic history and architecture. Her favorite saints include Saint Joseph, Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, Saint Philomena and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of all Saints.