The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey has hit the headlines today for his "astonishing attack" on Prime Minister David Cameron in which he accused the PM of "betraying Christians".
Except, of course, Carey never said that. Never once used the word
"betrayal" or any derivative of it. I read the article twice. My mum read it. My friend Paul read it. No mention.
It's just another example of the press printing whatever it is they want to hear, whatever suits them, and then passing it off as truth. Is it any wonder fewer people are reading so-called newspapers than ever before?
The irony is that this was a piece written for the Daily Mail, yet their own headline trumpeted this fictional Carey utterance.
Even more ironically, this could well be the very form of persecution that Carey alludes to in his article. He says that "..according to a new ComRes poll more than two thirds of Christians feel that they are part of a 'persecuted minority.'"
I have examined the latest ComRes poll, which you will find here, and unless Lord Carey is referring to some other of their polls, I can find no direct reference to persecution. I do find high percentages of those interviewed feeling that the church is negatively and unfairly represented in the UK Media, which is hardly surprising, given the secularized liberal presence in both print and broadcast media.
Putting that aside, I have for some years been mulling over the issue of persecution of the modern-day church, and it is interesting that many religious commentators are pooh-poohing the idea that it exists today in this country, using Carey's claim as a springboard. I'm not so sure, however, that it doesn't exist today.
Merriam-Webster's Dictionary defines "persecute" here as "to harass or punish in a manner designed to injure, grieve or afflict; specifically [their italic] to cause to suffer because of belief."
I don't think anyone would deny that the world over, many many people are suffering death, injury and loss due to their faith. That's persecution alright. But for a number of years now I have pondered what this would mean in countries such as England and the United States.
The Bible warns in many places of end times persecution. Interestingly, not everywhere does it specify the form(s) this persecution will take. Jesus says in Matthew 24:8 "..you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another..."
Paul tells Timothy (2 Tim 3:12) "Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." None of us are immune, but will all of us suffer physical persecution, such as we read about on an almost daily basis around the world?
I believe persecution involves more than just physical suffering. Merriam-Webster speaks of harassment in a manner designed to "injure, grieve or afflict". Does this happen just physically? I believe that it does not.
For a long time now I have been saying to friends and colleagues that the kind of persecution we should be on the lookout for in the so-called civilized or "first world" (horrible term) is of a very subtle, mental kind.
Sure there will be and continue to be those who will suffer bodily, but what about the power of suggestion, the erosion of certain freedoms, the gradual blackening of the name of Christianity? Could it be that the secularisation of society which is happening right before our eyes is a form of "harassment", as Merriam-Webster puts it? Could it be that the suggestion that the church or Christians (substitute one for the other at will) are out of line with "modern thinking" or out of touch, or offensive... etc. etc. is the kind of "harassment" Merriam-Webster speaks of, and Jesus and Paul warn of?
I have long been of the opinion that some of us will never see physical persecution - torture, if you will - but who is to say that a very insidious mental persecution is not already taking place, and has not already started to take effect in our nation and others?
Putting words in the mouth of Lord Carey, as the print media have done today is not a new tactic, but perhaps it should be considered the "new persecution".
You might think I am way off line with this, but I am standing by what I say. All I ask is you give it some thought before you ridicule me!