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Showing posts from January, 2013

Are Christians being persecuted? No.

Yesterday saw what was, I think, a pretty sensible ruling from the European Court of Human Rights on the "Christian discrimination" cases. It seems reasonable that people should be able to express their faith, but in a way that is moderated by other issues, such as health and safety. If I say my faith means I have to constantly juggle knives doesn't mean I should be able to do that while being a nursery teacher. Of course some Christian conservatives have been pushing this agenda as part of a "Christian persecution" narrative that bares no relation to reality, but seems to fit with their worldview. It is, though, a bit of an insult to people in other parts of the world who are genuinely persecuted for their beliefs. The attitude, I think, comes from a place of entitlement and privilege. Take the case of a registrar who does not want to perform civil partnerships. Even if you accept the idea that civil partnerships are incompatible with Christian faith (w

"Sharp fall in young ministers"?

That was not the headline yesterday. The headline yesterday was "Sharp fall in young police officers."  And it was about the freeze in police recruitment which has meant, not surprisingly, that there are a lot fewer police officers under 26. What interests me is the assumptions behind this investigation. The assumption is that this is notable, if not regrettable, that we have fewer young police officers. Some people will often say "aren't police officers looking young?" as they will often say to me "aren't you rather young to be a minister?" And yet it seems to be seen as a good thing to have young police officers. My question to the Unitarian community is: when did we see a headline that said, "Sharp fall in young ministers"? There very clearly has been a fall in young ministers, perhaps not sharp, but nevertheless significant. When did anyone notice this? When did anyone think this was worth noticing or regretting? The evidenc

"Respectability" is overrated

This follows on from my last two posts, in a similar, but slightly different tact. As well as moving away from a language about "values" and "diversity" I think what the Unitarian community really needs to do is move away from the pursuit of "respectability." Now we don't talk a lot about "respectability" but I think it nevertheless remains a strong undercurrent in our culture. Again these thoughts are emerging partly out of my study of Unitarian history in Britain. Even since the Great Ejection of 1662 we have been, for the most part "reluctant dissenters." Unlike more radical groups like Baptists and Quakers who took a more principled non-conformist stand, English Presbyterians had a deep desire to remain part of the mainstream, to be an alternative parish church and to work hard to be as respectable and mainstream as the Anglicans. For a while in the early days of Unitarianism there was a more deliberately radical, sectar