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Christianity and the West

‘We don’t do God’.  

During a Press Conference in 2003, Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s Director of Communications, intervened to prevent the Prime Minister from answering a question on his Christian faith.   During the 13 years New Labour was in power there was a total ban on mentioning ‘God’ to the point that Mr Blair was even prevented by his advisers from ending his address to the nation at the start of the Iraq war with the message ‘God bless you.’

But it could be that the Christian God is now making a comeback to the Governments in the UK, the West in general  –  and even, perhaps, in Russia.

After the surprise win for the Brexiteers last year and the not-so-surprising resignation of the pro-EU David Cameron, Theresa May was appointed as his replacement, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.  But Theresa May is the daughter of a Church of England vicar and life in a rural vicarage has had a profound impact on her life, so much so that she has no fear of speaking out about her Christian faith.

Shortly after her appointment, Theresa May acknowledged in Parliament that her faith in God is her driving force.  But inevitably, after an interview in a November issue of the Independent, when she spoke about her religion, Theresa May was urged not to ‘abuse her position to promote Christianity’.   However, the Prime Minister continued to describe how her faith in God makes her convinced she is ‘doing the right thing’.  “I am a practising member of the Church of England and so forth, and that lies behind what I do.”

Theresa May has also said bluntly that ‘Our Christian heritage is something we can all be proud of’.  Which is something we have not heard from the Government or the media for a very long time.

And also in 2016 there was another unexpected election across the Pond, when Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton to become the USA’s 45th President.   He has confirmed that he is a Presbyterian who ‘goes to church on Sundays when he can, always at Christmas, Easter and on special occasions’.  

But the current First Lady, Melania Trump, took her faith a little further than attending church services when she and her husband flew to Florida for a campaign rally in February.  Having introduced the President, Melania Trump surprised the gathering by saying ‘Let us pray’, and then reciting the Lord’s Prayer. 

As happened after Theresa May’s religious comments, Melania Trump was then reviled on the various media for doing so.  But in both the UK and the US, Judeo-Christianity is the bedrock of our civilisation.   Many people are still worshippers and even for those who are not, the basic teachings are still followed, even if unconsciously. A reminder of those teachings is important if other faiths or none are not to replace them.

During 2017 a number of elections are due to take place across Europe where presidents or prime ministers with Christian backgrounds are likely to either win or to push their governments in the right direction. 

The Netherlands (Holland) will be holding a general election on 15th March, where it seems that Geert Wilders, the founder of the Party for Freedom, might do well.   Although Wilders is said to be an agnostic, he has said that he feels the Dutch Christians “are my allies” and that “Our Judeo-Christian Western culture is far better and far superior to the Islamic culture, and we must be proud to say so!”

France will be holding the first round of its presidential election on 23rd April but should no candidate win a majority, a run-off election between the top two candidates will be held on 7th May.   Marine Le Pen, who might well win at least the first round, is on record as saying that she and her party, the Front National, will defend France’s Christian roots.  Francois Fillon of the right centrist Republican Party  –  who might still withdraw from the race due to a financial scandal  –  has said that he would continue to stress his Christian faith during campaigning despite criticism from opponents about the use of his religion. There is little known of the faith, if any, of Emmanuel Macron, the third and independent candidate, but he is a strong believer in the division of religion and state.

Germany will run regional elections in May followed by parliamentary elections in September.  In Germany’s local elections in September 2016, the new right-wing party AfD (Alternative for Germany) did well and might do so again in the coming regional elections.  The party chairwoman since 2015 is Frauke Petry, a member of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Saxony which is part of the Evangelical Church in Germany.

The Czech Republic is due to hold a general election in October. Bohuslav Sobotka is the Prime Minister and also leader of the Czech Social Democratic Party.  Although not a lot is known of his personal faith, Prime Minister Sobotka has said that his country was happy to accept Christian refugees who had fled from areas controlled by the Islamic State.

Italy may be holding its next general election in 2017 rather in 2018 due to the early resignation of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi following a tumultuous political year.   Italy’s two main political parties, Renzi’s Democratic Party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement headed by Beppo Grillo, are calling for an early election although no date has been given as yet.  Matteo Renzi and his family are Catholics while Beppo Grillo is said simply to be ‘a Christian’.

And then there is Russia.

As a child during the Communist era, President Putin naturally had a secular upbringing and as an adult rose through the KGB and the Communist Party.  At this time religious practices were forbidden in the USSR but since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the various sects of the Christian religion, and in particular the Russian Orthodox Church, have re-emerged and have continued to grow.  By the last count in 2008, 72% of the population identified themselves as being Orthodox and President Putin himself is said to be a member and ‘a bit of a zealot’.

One might question this, of course, especially since with the church and its patriotic members behind him, President Putin’s plans for Russia – whatever they are – may be more successful.

However, a few years ago, President Putin upbraided the Euro-Atlantic nations for abandoning their Christian roots and he is also quoted as having said that ‘First and foremost we should be governed by common sense [which] should be based on moral principles first.   It is not possible today to have morality separated from religious values.’

So ‘let us pray’ that the governments and Christian clerics of the West rapidly regain their common sense and moral principles.

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About Sonya Jay Porter (47 Articles)
Sonya Jay Porter is a free-lance writer who joined UKIP in 1994, having previously worked as a journalist in Dubai in the 1980s. Over the past few years she has had articles on various subjects -- including those related to the European Union -- published on several web sites.

12 Comments on Christianity and the West

  1. The historic centre of the Byzantine civilisation and empire (Eastern Roman), namely Constantinople embodied the ecclesiastical, cultural, political, social and not least theological foundations of ‘First Europe’ …..

    The Church in the Western Roman civilisation represented ‘Second Europe’ and provided the theological foundations for Western civilisation.

    The ‘survival,’ ‘longevity’ and continued existence of First Europe is based on the common *and* concrete (‘context-specific’) identity between the people and Orthodoxy – national identity and ecclesiastical identity are one and the same (Communist rule notwithstanding). For example, Russian and Slavic culture have been profoundly shaped, affected and influenced by the liturgy (worship) and witness of the Russian Orthodox Church.

    And whilst the Russian Orthodox is the national church of Russia, at the same time, she is also part of the wider Orthodox Church comprising of other national churches of much of Eastern and Southern Europe and the Caucasus and even the Middle East. So in interfering and intervening in these regions, Russia is also at the same time defending the interest and welfare of the Orthodox communities there.

    Any analysis that insists on a Cold War approach that is typical of the US, EU and not least the UK itself simply misses the point. That is to say, Russian nationalism isn’t just about Putin but about the resurgence of the Orthodox Church in First Europe post-Communism.

    • The relationship between the State and the Church in Orthodoxy is founded directly on the foundations of christology (i.e. the doctrine of the Incarnation) – by way of *analogy* – even if such a ‘conception’ has been obscured (or even weakened) in present-times.

      For just as Christ has two natures and therefore two natural operations or activities or energies, likewise His kingdom on earth has the State and Church as institutions of life with their corresponding roles but united in one common or identical purpose. In the past, the State was embodied by the Emperor.

      So whilst the precise or exact nature of the relationship between the State and Church was not defined (at least positively), there was a ‘symphony’ or ‘natural harmony’ between the two within the *one body* politic of the Empire.

      Hence, the idea that the State represented the secular whilst the Church represented the religious – even whilst there was some overlapping did not arise in the case of Orthodoxy.

      In other words, the distinction lay not in the identity itself but the role or function …..

      • In the Western Christendom, the secular and the religious drifted apart due to the breach in the relationship between the mystical and physical as embodied in the distinction between the ‘King Two Bodies’ (as per the medievalist Ernst Kantorowicz) …… again the roots are christological …. as epitomised in the sacramental debates over the nature of the Lord’s Supper in the mid-middle century period between Radbertus versus Ratramnus …. whether Our Saviour was present physically in bread and wine or that these ‘species’ or ‘elements’ were mere symbols …..

        • Ironically, it was the Protestant Reformer, Dr Martin Luther that ‘re-discovered’ or ‘recovered’ or ‘retrieved’ the christological basis of life – by articulating the union between Word (divine) and Nature (creation). So that the religious and secular in fact refer to both hands of the one Creator in creating/ re-creating and sustaining life in this creation.

          However, Luther’s insistence on his individual conscience (‘synderesis’) – as encapsulating the essence of individual freedom and what is today know as human rights – in the face of authority (the combined weight of Church and State) led to full-blown political and cultural and economic consequences. Constitutionally, the re-assertion of nationalism in turn eventually led to separation of powers within the one (national) government.

          Again whilst three ‘organs’ or ‘branches’ of government are one government (analogous to the Three Persons as One God), there was an ‘internal’ check-and-balance amongst them. This is analogous to the workings or operations of the Triune God in the world.

          God speaks through the political use of the law (which changes according to time and space) and They also speak through the theological use of the law (which as ‘morality’ ought to be constant in its fundamental and general principles). The Church, therefore, should be a voice against tyranny and abuse of power and the unintended consequences of public policy and so on.

          • Even philosophy and the history of ideas were influenced by Christianity ……

            Greek philosophy was turned inside out by the Eastern fathers (e.g. Cappadocian fathers) who insisted that ‘existence precedes essence.’ That is we know God as the Father and only then the Son and Spirit as equally God. In other words, Person comes before Nature. This applies to the Incarnation whereby it is the one divine Person that assumed an impersonal human nature. In practice, it provides for the christological basis in the argument that, e.g. the fetus is a person (and not ‘mere nature’).

            Karl Marx’s equality of all workers was inspired by Luther’s ‘priesthood of all believers.’

            Soren Kierkegaard’s paradox was based on Luther’s ‘faith alone’ (sola fide) that in turn is based on the distinction between the God Who hides and the God Who reveals Himself on the Cross.

          • The unintended consequence of Luther’s earth-shattering revolution was of course towards the secularisation and corresponding decline of religion in the West epitomised by ‘God is dead’ (in itself ‘reminiscent’ of Luther’s phrase that ‘God died on the Crossi,’ i.e. it was the 2nd divine Person Himself who suffered death and not merely His human nature).

            Secularisation, whilst unintended by Luther himself, was only inevitable and eminently logical and natural consequence of the Reformation as embodied in Luther’s ‘Here I stand, I can do no other’ ….. a phenomenon or ‘movement in history’ that already was ‘pre-figured’ in the ‘divide’ between the mystical and physical in the Western Medieval Church …..

            What Luther did was to turn the relationship between the mystical and physical inside out. That is, like Orthodoxy, Luther affirmed the union between the two.

            But unlike Orthodoxy, Luther made a further distinction between Christ’s kingship in the Church and State. One is by the reign of grace’ the other is by the reign of the sword. And both have their proper limits.

            The role of the Church in relation to the State, therefore, is dependent on the latter. In short, the Church upholds the common life and good. Conversely, the role of the State in relation to the Church is dependent on the former. Yet even here whilst the State doesn’t interfere and listens to the voice of the Church, both work together to uphold the common life and good that changes according to context changes (religious to secular)….. so secularism is the default position as the natural, logical and appropriate outcome of the Reformation …..

  2. I hope you are right, Sonya, and that our European Christian moral, legal and cultural foundation will prove a bulwark against islam. Despite being a confirmed atheist of Dawkinist proportions, I can still see that reformed Christianity is infinitely superior to a savage ideology unreformed since its sad, bad, and mad appearance 1,400 years ago.
    But the refusal or inability of May and the rest of the PC mob to see islam as the threat it is to the future of this country and its historic peoples is mind-boggling. Presumably, they’re not very good at Maths and cannot calculate the growth of the muslim population at its present birthrate compared to ours, plus the effects of more immigration from islamic countries by the year 2050 and beyond.
    They’re not listening, as usual, to the majority views and desires of the British people. That’s why we need a government that does by 2020 at the latest.

  3. Dear Sonya,

    Thank you very much for your article!

  4. CofE has a bunch of muppets running it. Wellby might as well be a Liberal/Labour politician.

  5. GEOFFREY CHARLES ELLIOTT. // March 5, 2017 at 2:06 pm // Reply
    I share nothing with our past and present so called leaders,Christian or not,for abandoning the Christians in the Middle East,but also for doing their damndest to
    turn our once great and former Christian country into yet another Muslim hell-hole,by
    bending over backwards to the demands of the Islamists.Sharia May continues to
    promote the Islamification of Britain,at a recent speech,she insisted that many British
    people “Benefit a great Deal” from the guidance offered by Sharia teachings,and other Muslim codes.The latest information I have is that under May there are now
    over 100 Sharia Courts operating in Britain today,to see her recently wearing a headscarf,I was filled with loathing for her.She is a complete and utter failure,much
    like David Halal is safe with me Cam-Moron,and Tony Blood on his hands War Criminal Blair.Under Sharia May’s watch,Immigration is at an all time high,our borders are non-existent,we’ve even got them now arriving in our Channel Ports in
    Rubber Dinghies,each and everyone is welcomed with open arms,into The Greatest Welfare Plantation in the Whole World,why do think we had over 10,000 illegal asylum seekers,most male,and mostly Muslim camped out in Calais,all just waiting to break into our country.
    Europe tore down the structure of Christianity years ago.They just did not understand that was the only thing that protected them.Our loss of our Christian faith,and the inability of our useless Church Leaders to confront Islam.As I write they are even demanding that we open our doors to more Muslim Male so called Schoolchildren,
    whose average age has been proven to be 24,sheer madness.Now the Muslim hordes are upon,and with Sharia May delaying Brexit,by the time we leave,we will have another 2 Million more Aliens here,who we will then have to house,clothe and
    feed..We in UKIP should have been shouting this from the rooftops,so why aren’t we.
    I am not saying that alone would have ensured a victory for us in Stoke,but it might have made all the difference,at least we would not have lost so spectacularly.

  6. Against gender equality too. Isn’t that our non-racist mantra? (And if not, why not?)

  7. I hope you are right, Sonya, but Mrs May has also said that Sharia is good for Britain. She cannot fail to know that Sharia Law is the foundation stone of political Islam, and all it’s tenets are against Christian teaching.

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