Christian persecution, moral reticence
Perhaps we are witnessing what post-religious morality looks like? People are only deserving of charity if they fit into the historical, geographical and political fashions of the time.
The quiet fallout from the Bishop of Truro’s report into the global persecution and ‘near genocide’ of Christians perfectly reflects the moral attitudes of the new post-religious West. Devastatingly insightful articles from Giles Fraser and Melanie McDonagh will sharpen the mind better than anything I could write, but the grudging response from places like the Guardian illuminate why we hear very little of this issue. Afua Hirsch’s piece starts by accepting that Christians are the most persecuted group on the planet, but very quickly reverts to the tired blaming of British imperialism for Christian missionaries despicable behaviour in parts of Africa. Andrew Brown also drops this sucker punch into his reflection:
In England today, Christianity is associated with extremes of both nationalism and with internationalism: bishops and archbishops preach and pray about foreign aid and the persecuted church, but self-identified Anglicans have much more rightwing views.
It would seem impossible then for commentators to actually discuss the problem without smearing and attacking Christianity and Christians, both for their past and current guilts, as if being a right-wing Anglican is now an insult. This type of reticence, to actually face down the topic, is not seen when discussing any other minority persecution. It would appear that post-religious Westerners feel themselves above their own history and culture. The ‘Whig View of History’, that we have grown out of our superstitious past into Enlightenment and progress, dominates the secular liberal mind. This makes them feel detached from their roots, an active disavowal of Europe’s Christian heritage, because every evil comes from our history – therefore why on earth would we help Christians? Aren’t they the source of all the world’s problems? It’s a fascinating insight into how selective the virtues of solidarity and justice have become on the Left.
Its also shockingly cruel in another regard. The Christians being persecuted are not the middle-class right wing Anglicans so hated by the Guardian. They are the impoverished minorities of Pakistan, Gaza, Egypt, China and the Gulf. By almost every credo of the progressive Left these should be the epitome of victims, and yet they suffer in silence. Which leads to the conclusion that the virtues of the Left are in fact bounded by geography, history and international relations. Take Saudi Arabia – the UK government is criticised for selling arms to the regime and for generally supporting the repression, even tacitly, of its people. But the solidarity shown to the women of the country, who are attempting to throw off the most outrageous deprivations of their liberty, is lukewarm at best. Critiquing Saudi Arabia on climate change? No-one does. Challenging the religious apartheid of the state, where non-Muslims have separate roads to drive on? Silence. Challenging their complete refusal to host even one single Syrian refugee, despite their having millions of air-conditioned tents empty waiting for the Haj pilgrims? What a selectively muddled approach to supposedly core and universal principles.
We need to challenge this commonplace view of solidarity and justice. If the suffering Christians around the world can teach the secular West anything, its that our traditional universal values are rooted in the universal teaching of Christianity. Perhaps we are witnessing what post-religious morality looks like? People are only deserving of charity if they fit into the historical, geographical and political fashions of the time.