What Brexit tells us about the Church in the UK

eu-referendum

This is the longer version of my article in Christian Today.

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/brexit.time.for.the.church.to.stop.doing.politics.and.start.doing.faith/89591.htm

There is an old Chinese curse which says ‘may you live in interesting times’! In that case Britain is truly ‘cursed at the moment! I doubt there have been such interesting times in national and political life since the end of the Second World War. Despite the majority of political parties, business leaders, academics, international political leaders, celebrities and media commentators being opposed, 52% of the 72% who voted, said yes to leaving the European Union. It is a political earthquake, and the reverberations are still being felt. Not so much in the dreaded economic collapse, which has not happened (yet), nor in any of the apocalyptic disasters which were supposed to hit us the minute we decided not to take the ‘experts’ advice; but rather in the collective hysterical meltdown that seems to have afflicted some of the middle classes and Generation Snowflake.   Watching from afar it seems as though some sections of society have gone mad. The Labour party is tearing itself apart, the Far Right are playing their usual horrible racist games trying to turn the result to their own advantage, the Scottish Nationalists are marching their troops up to the top of the hill, we are told that the ‘youth’ feel betrayed (although only 25% voted to Remain) and the venom, disgust and abuse on social media especially from those who are astounded they did not get their way, leaves a nauseating taste in the mouth and a heavy burden on the heart.

So with a leadership vacuum in the nation, panic in the markets, hysteria from some of the middle classes and an emboldened racism, the Church has stepped in and provided the voice of calm, reason and tolerance, whilst speaking the truth of Christ into a nation in sore need of it. I wish! (Or perhaps it should be I pray?). Sadly the church has largely mirrored the nation. In fact this whole shambles has revealed some rather unpleasant truths about the church as a whole in the UK.

1) We are rubbish at politics – It seems as though many church leaders think that we have the right, the knowledge and the ability to use our position to advance particular political positions, which we equate with the Kingdom of God. This is across the spectrum, from liberal to evangelical, from low church to Catholic – it has been disturbing to see just how many church leaders seem to think that speaking a prophetic word means speaking a political word, even use the same political codes that the secular world use.   And even more astonishing is how the Internet makes constitutional, financial and political experts of us all. ‘It’s only advisory’, ‘the Scottish Parliament has the power to block’, ‘£100 billion will be wiped of the markets’, ‘thousands will be killed in Northern Ireland’….and these are some of milder prophecies. I don’t have any problem with church leaders advocating political positions in public as private citizens (I often do it myself), but we have no right to commit our churches to those positions, nor to equate them as being part of the Christian message.

2) We have lost our sense of perspective because we have lost our sense of God – One minister declared that a second Euro referendum was now the most important thing in the world today. Really? More important than ISIS? More important than Sudan? China? The Zika virus?   More important than the Good News we are supposed to be proclaiming to the poor?   Isaiah tells us that the nations are ‘as a drop in the bucket’ to God. But because we have forgotten God, or rather we have equated him with our own petty visions and political opinions; we think that the politics of the EU (whether Remain or Leave) is of seismic importance to the Kingdom. I’ll tell you what is far more important, the elder who was taken to hospital, the woman in my congregation who has just given birth, the young man asking about becoming a Christian, the new convert looking for guidance and prayer. Its people that matter, not political systems. All rulers are but God’s servants. They are not God. And we are not in control. I think that one of the reasons that there has almost been a collective meltdown amongst some in the middle classes is that we are so used to getting our way, that when it doesn’t happen we don’t know how to cope. Hence the anger, rage, frustration.

That was clearly expressed in an extraordinary post from Christian commentator Jonathan Langley on the Christian Today website. http://www.christiantoday.com/article/no.i.will.not.keep.calm.and.move.on/89306.htm

In an astonishing fit of pique Jonathan declared that those who told him to calm down, seek unity and work together made him angrier than the actual result. They were ‘holier than thou, self-aggrandising claptrap’.   Personally I love passion, and I love Christians being passionate about the Word of God. Is that what Jonathan was doing? No. Apparently voting Leave was emboldening racists and xenophobes, causing wars, economic collapse and fascism. Jonathan not only knows what will happen in the future, but he knows the heart so of those who voted. They were largely motivated by ‘some of the least righteous prejudices in the human heart’. Jonathan is VERY angry. And his righteous prejudices tell him it is good for him to be so. And to tell him that God is in control is like Job being comforted by his friends. And therein is where you see the loss of perspective. Job lost his children, his wealth, his status and his health. Jonathan lost a vote about being part of a political system!  Granted it is more important than England losing to Iceland, but it is a drop in the bucket compared to the consequences of evil in the world.   Jonathan and others like him, really do need to calm down, go and lie in a dark room and take some time to pray and re-prioritise to what God says is important.

3) We are disconnected from the poor and many of the people we profess to serve. – Bishop Pete Broadbent of Willisden, not for the first time made some quite remarkable comments. here is something deeply troubling about this divide. Since the disaster/triumph that was Thursday, with all that has followed, I haven’t met anyone in any of our churches or locality who voted Leave…….Incomprehension has become the order of the day, and we have little or no way of empathising with the other side.”   What is fascinating about this is that Bishop Broadbent was suspended for making derogatory remarks about the Royals. He is also a member of the Labour party and a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn as well as an evangelical leader of Spring Harvest. And yet despite these radical, right on credentials, he does not know anyone who voted Leave – despite the fact that 40% of the people of London did so. No one in his churches, no one in his locality. I suppose this could because some were scared to admit what they had done, scared of the intimidation that many have felt from furious Remainers, who regard anyone who voted Leave as being a dumb racist, but I suspect it just reflects more the class and social divide.

Because of course our middle class churches love to talk about justice for the poor, and provide soup kitchens as well as ‘radical’ theology, but they just don’t do incarnational ministry. Bishop Pete could not understand why people in areas like Sunderland could vote against the EU when they receive so much EU money.   Maybe its because they are not looking for hand-outs but dignity and some degree of self-determination? The reality is that much of the church spoke out in favour of the establishment, because it is the establishment – with a spiritual coating.  The people of Kensington, Chelsea, Cambridge, Oxford and Edinburgh were overwhelmingly in favour of Remain. So apparently were the Establishment churches. (Although 58% of ordinary Christians were for Brexit!)  One could argue, if one lived in these areas, that they only voted for Remain because they cared for the poor, workers rights etc and that the poor only voted for Brexit because they are a bit dumb and don’t know whats best for themselves!  Most Christians would of course not explicitly argue that, but it is implicit in many of the posts I have been reading.

Bishop Broadbent lives in a different world from me. I know plenty people in my own church who voted on either side, and some I don’t know how or if they voted…and I don’t need to. Our fellowship is not based on our shared political views, but our shared faith in Christ. I believe that those who voted Remain did so in good faith having prayerfully thought about the issues. I don’t think they were dumb, ignorant or any more prejudiced than me.  They had the same facts and came to a different conclusion.  I didn’t agree with them, but then I could be wrong.  We are all limited in terms of our omniscience!   And in terms of our fellowship it is a relatively trivial issue that means ultimately nothing.

4) We are more likely to listen to the voices of social media, than we are to listen to the voice of God.  Social media, like all tools, can be a great blessing. But it is also a great curse, because it permits incredible evil. The tongue is a restless poison, and the keyboard likewise. So people retweet, reblog articles and gossip that they hear which confirms their already pre-conceived bias. Take for example this horrendous picture of a Far Right demo in Newcastle post-Brexit.

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Tweet of Stop Immigration sign in Newcastle Image from David Olusoga / Twitter page

Proof that Brexit has resulted in increased racism?  No. The photographer wrote the following tweet, pointing out that these groups were always active in Newcastle.

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There are numerous such examples of people being told half a story, putting two and two together and making five.   The truth is that on all sides there is propaganda. Christians should be listening to the Word of God, not the gossip of social media. Why would that make a difference here? For a start it tells me that sin and racism are deep within the human heart. Political votes don’t cause them to happen, although they may cause them to come to the surface.

I listened to a sermon of a minister who began by admitting that he was so traumatised by the vote that he changed his sermon. Not his text. After all the text was largely irrelevant, only there to act as an illustration and back up to what he had to say, something to hang his political opinions on. His people are not being fed the Word of God; they are being fed the opinions of a man, dressed up in biblical language. What does God say about the EU? I haven’t a clue – and neither does any Christian who takes the Bible seriously. But as I am preaching through Isaiah I can see that the Lord has plenty to say about justice, poverty, mercy, sin, righteousness and the need to follow the Suffering Servant.   And that is what people need to hear. Not rage or exaltation from the pulpit because of a political vote.  The day I tell people how to vote on an issue about which the Bible says nothing is the day I should do a Cameron/Hodgson and resign!

5) The Church is still the salt of the earth and the light of the world – Despite all the above – and we need to recognize it. The Church of Christ is still here and still being salt and light. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York said:

“As citizens of the United Kingdom, whatever our views during the referendum campaign, we must now unite in a common task to build a generous and forward looking country, contributing to human flourishing around the world.”

What we need to ask is how that comes about? If what the bible says is true (and surely the Archbishops accept that basic premise!) then human beings are ‘dead in sins and trespasses’. Not mildly sick. Not a little confused. Not falling a little short of our true potential. We don’t just need to Remain with the status quo, or to Leave a particular political system. We need to be made alive. We need new birth. We need a new beginning. We need renewal, revival and reformation.

I thank the Lord that all over the country there are churches where ordinary pastors are proclaiming faithfully what the Bible says, not changing their sermons to suit the political circumstances; where ordinary Christians are faithfully seeking to serve and minister Christ to the poor, hurting and hungry; and where people from many nations, languages, classes, genders and ages are worshipping together as the Body of Christ.  We are not the spiritual wings of the Conservative/Liberal/Labour/Nationalist parties. We are the Church of Jesus Christ, his body, his family, his bride, the pillar and foundation of the truth. Let us be!

Seasoned with Salt? – Christian Responses to Brexit

Let me add a footnote here which illustrates the kind of thing that is going on…..I was recently banned from a Christian’s FB page because I did not accept that those who voted Leave were de facto racists who wanted to ban ALL Europeans from living in the UK. When I pointed out that this was not the case, I was told that the only people who could be upset at being called racists were people who were racist, and that anyone who disagreed was tribalising….the person concerned then went on to talk about how they were on the side of peace and unity and asked where were the Church leaders who were on the side of unity and moderation (they expressed the view that those who voted Leave of course could not be).  They were ‘hurt’ that I did not agree with them and so I was banned.  This is where we have reached in the church – where social media can be used to demonise and mock whole groups of people – yet if you dare to challenge that you are automatically ‘the enemy’.  It seems to me as though far too many people are identifying the Kingdom of God and the Gospel with a particular political point of view and then find themselves emotionally committed to that view – to the extent that if you disagree with them, you are perceived as personally attacking them.  It is so so sad. Is there no room left for mature debate about issues, without demonising people and personalising everything?

 

 

 


33 thoughts on “What Brexit tells us about the Church in the UK

  1. Oh my goodness David.

    I couldn’t read beyond a certain amount of your post. It’s gone beyond the sometimes likening of private Frazer “we’re doomed” to outright catastrophising.

    I am not at all concerned. I love the post you made before about the UK not being good at being bullied and it being a victory for the people of the UK.

    I’m led to believe the FTSI gained points to it being higher that before the Brexit vote. Yes the snowflakes and elites are worried. Good! Aren’t you tired of them having their way?

    I like it that there is someone brought up in Wales and not part of the Eton/Oxbridge boys club in the running to be leader of the country. I like the thought that in the uncertain times ahead it’s going to take a different kind of leadership, one in touch with the people an can unify the country to be able survive in a political career. The people have shown that plattitudinous selfish ambition ain’t gonna work. Maybe the country needed this!

    What did Jesus say when his followers were worried. Lillies, birds, how much more will your Father in heaven provide for you, oh you of little faith!

    Right?

    1. Adam, you say: “I’m led to believe the FTSI gained points to it being higher that before the Brexit vote. Yes the snowflakes and elites are worried. Good! Aren’t you tired of them having their way? ”

      The FTSE 100 index is denominated in UK pounds sterling. The index may be higher but the value of the stocks on it and thus your pension funds holdings is now significantly lower. In any case, as many people point out, the FTSE 250 index is, in fact, lower. Understanding why the FTSE 100 is higher requires an understanding that the index is made up of international companies like BAT, Imperial Tobacco, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, mining companies etc, whose profits are largely made abroad but denominated in sterling because they are listed here. As such their sterling profits will appear to rise on currency weakness, and this makes them attractive to investors who can now buy more stock for their dollar.

      If you want a real indication of what this vote has done to the economy so far, go and get yourself some holiday money, or go fill your car with fuel and see how the prices have changed.

      Certain papers mischievously reported a “Brexit bonanza” this week. Rather than allowing others from partisan news organisations to tell you what you this stuff, however, how about taking a look at how far your money goes now, or how the overall value of your pension fund (assuming you have one, apologies if you don’t) compares to where it was two weeks ago.

      1. Stephen – I have got myself some holiday money and I have filled my car with fuel….and I have a rubbish pension fund. The price of fuel has not changed since Brexit – indeed the price of oil has gone down. The pound is worth less when I travel oversees, but travel to the UK is cheaper and buying goods from the UK is cheaper…in other words it is always swings and roundabouts. I agree that if you are part of the ‘haves’ then leaving the EU may cost you something…if you are part of the have nots..it won’t. What price democracy and justice?

      2. Your blog does not allow me to reply further to your comments for some reason (too many levels of reply maybe) so I will leave a short one in line here and leave it at that.

        Yes the oil price fell on the expectation of recession in the UK and a global slow down from the Brexit vote. It fell 5% (priced in dollars). The pound fell a lot more, which is why oil is now costs us more, and here at least the pump prices have gone up by 2p as a direct result. This will not be the end of it either, but I was replying to another writer regarding the silly articles suggesting that because the FTSE 100 is higher that somehow there is a Brexit bonus. My advice remains unchanged: keep an eye on what things actually cost you to evaluate if there is really a bonus or not.

        What price democracy? That is a depressing comment when I consider that we have voted out of a system that has been evaluated to be at least as democratic as its member states by, for instance, academics in Harvard and Princeton. The term “democratic deficit” was used to describe the EU parliament which was not, at the time, directly elected. It is now, and the EU is a lot more democratic than what we have been lumbered with: Westminster with its first past the post system where ruling majorities are almost always supported by a minority of voters, and where our second chamber is the unelected Lords.

        In the debate before the vote one politician and our partisan press started banging on about the “five unelected presidents” of the EU, but it turns out that these are people like the president of the ECB… so when did we elect the Governor of the bank of England? or the president (althogh in other languages this is translated, quite correctly, as chairman) of the commission etc. But perhaps we failed to notice that we *don’t* elect a head of our government here. We elect a member and those members elected can choose a PM from their number, which is why our next PM will be in place with no new election. And then we could ask about where our elected head of state is. Neither do we elect the speaker of the house or the leader of the commons or Lords or any other such thing.

        What price democracy? I don’t know, but democracy would be a jolly good idea. Thus a quick plug: if you care about democracy, join the Electoral Reform Society.

        Elsewhere you pick up a point with this:

        ‘“the weak, the poor, the homeless and the voiceless both here in the UK and abroad.” I don’t doubt that that is genuine but it is both mistaken and patronising. 70% of those in the CDE groups voted Leave. It is unquestionably the case that the majority of the poor voted to leave. Is this because they are too stupid to work out what is for their best? ‘

        So you clearly missed the words “and abroad”.

        Migration controls are there to keep the poor boxed in in their poverty, and not one of them got a vote on it. If you think our choice does not affect people outside this country then you are being rather parochial.

        As to the “70% …voted leave”, there you go being inconsistent with your statistics again. If 70% of those social groups voted leave then 75% of the young voted remain, no? Whereas if we look at who voted and count those who did not then a lot less than half voted to leave. So which way do we have it? One or the other but not both at the same time: that is dishonest.

        As to *why* they voted leave, there is this curious thing about referenda: people don’t just vote on the question asked. It is not patronising to say so, and it is quite clearly shown again and again when analysing referenda.

        When the press, and particular the press that these social groups tend to choose, has front page spreads saying “look him in the eyes and vote leave”, with a picture of David Cameron on the front, then that is clearly attempting to make the issue about socking it to the Government… and we know that tactic worls. We also have the issue of the blatant lies of the leave campaign, which are well documented, the fact that the poor perhaps don’t care if an economy tanks when they feel the benefits of economic growth have passed them by, and the fact that 85% of all press coverage, by reach, was hostile to the EU, and you don’t get the impression of a level playing field.

        Of course many people had a settled view for a long time, but what swung the election is those who responded to the campaign. That campaign was the most mendacious in my lifetime, and although remain had some examples themselves that spectacularly backfired (the emergency budget for instance) there is no doubt that the level of deception from leave crosses all bounds and norms for a campaign, and frankly I would be embarrassed if I was in the winning side after such a campaign, however much I might have been happy with the win.

      3. There is no block….

        I find it fascinating that you think the leaders of the EU parliament are equivalent to CEs of a bank. Kind of sums up your position on democracy!

        I agree with you that there were a lot of lies in the campaign and that it was mendacious – on both sides. Of course your bias and your refusal to accept the result means that you have to rant about ‘its all lies’….for me the lies (Turkey won’t come in until 3,000, there will be an emergency budget, holidays will cost £242 more, the NHS will collapse, this is a Tory Right wing coup, its all about racism etc) on the Remain side showed a desperation that became laughable and did backfire. Yes I am very happy that the people voted against the Establishment and Project Fear and Smear.

  2. Pleased that you seem to be enjoying your holiday, or holy-days away.

    1 Though you have not told people how to vote, your posts will have influenced.

    2 The whole farrago does reveal where Christians place their trust, their treasure? Where or in what they get their identity, acceptance, belonging, security, safety, and it is not in Christ alone.

    “He shall be the stability of your times.” Isaiah 33:6

    3 What is your Only comfort in life and in death?

    A : That I am not my own, but belong – body sand soul, in life and in death-to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to Him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing to live for Him…….Heidelberg Catechism

    4 Christ Jesus gives the ultimate exodus, deliverance from sin and death, and from political and social systems, without anarchy.

    5 How much idolatry is in our Christian lives, from the idol factory that is our hearts?

    6 How many Christians have known “The expulsive power of a new affection” which Thomas Chalmers preached based on .
    ” Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him.” 1John 2:15

    That is, knowing the love of Christ and love for Him cast out/relegates all others

    As Charles Wesley gloriously penned “Love Divine, all loves excelling”

    1. Of course! Otherwise that would itself be a label! The point is that we as individual Christians should not indulge in that….and we should argue against the position not the person…

  3. If we do go through a hard time as a nation, could it be that God is answering our prayers with problems in order to call the nation back to Himself?

    Handball 3:2 “Lord I have heard of your fame. I stand in awe of your deeds O Lord. Renew them in our day. Make them known in our time. In wrath remember mercy.”

  4. The Bible speaks about 10 kings handing over power to the one. It talks about God who confused the language. It is God who formed the nations. It is God who says ‘ Come out from amongst them. ‘How many Christians know the United Nations are behind destroying nation states and diluting culture handing power to unelected officials? How many are informed the accepted spirituality behind the UN is the New Age and its call to bring all faiths as one and therefore lukewarm? Those who stand exclusive (Jesus) and not inclusive ought to be removed. How many Christians are informed that the writings of the occultist Alice Bailey inspired the World Education Curriculum over the last 30 years. confirmed by the spiritual father of the UN and father of world education, Robert Muller former Ass Sec General of the UN? Ever wondered why the younger generation wanted to vote to remain? Yes Christians ought to be aware of just what the EU is about. It is a prototype of one of several unions to be formed around the world. Perhaps God has listened to the prayers of the faithful and is offering a last chance for mankind to repent here and in the USA right now.
    Wake up church!

  5. While your commentary argues for temperance and poise in the current debate it betrays some underlying presuppositions which may not be advancing the cause of the gospel for which you are rightfully jealous.

    I agree that our witness should be free of party political loyalties and prejudices. But I disagree that the Scriptures and the gospel have nothing to say about the governance of nations. God’s revelation in Christ was in time-space history because he has a plan for the real world. This revelation is both cosmic and ethical and therefore speaks into how humankind under God should conduct its affairs. The gospel provides salvation from personal regeneration right through to social relationships and hence politics. There are optimum political structures revealed in Scriptue for human flourishing. Some of these travelled from Switzerland to the British Isles and thence to the New World, America, Australia etc. Federal systems of government are rooted in Reformation history but more significantly in God’s covenant nature and purpose. Shared government via covenants is biblical.

    To argue that politics doesn’t matter because it’s nothing to do with the gospel is to deny humankind’s ethical rebellion against God and to espouse dualism – that is that the gospel only deals with spiritual matters but not something as material as politics.

  6. Great stuff, thank you. The point about the total lack of contact between comfortable establishment Christians and people voting to leave is especially well made.

    Bishop David of Manchester’s contribution is especially interesting; it’s a great piece of politics – unlike most pastors he does politics well – but it’s notable for a total lack of reference to God in any way.

    http://www.manchester.anglican.org/news/1932/bishop-david-comments-on-the-eu-referendum-result

    My suspicion is that it comes from a desire of such leaders to be ‘relevant’, failing to realise that the gospel is the most relevant truth that the church can offer. But because it’s not having any significant impact, the temptation is to look for other ways to please the crowds, or at least give oneself a feeling of adding something of value.

  7. Could you source your quotes please as I cannot find the originals of any of them (not even Pete Broadbent’s) with google, and I would really like to see the remarks in the context they were given. In particular, it seems unlikely to me that Pete Broadbent was saying that there were no leave voters in London or wherever, but rather it looks like he was making a statement about the Church and perhaps a failure for us to reach beyond our immediate comfortable communities. Was his point, perhaps, that the vote represents a shout from a portion of society that we have simply stopped speaking to?

    That may or may not be what he said, and may or may not be right, but it seems to make more sense of his statement than what you have here.

    Other “quotes” also seem to be suspect. What Christian leader really said that a second referendum was more important than spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ? Where? Are we lacking the context on that remark? Because if so, your argument is a straw man, sorry. If not, then really we need to take that up with him/her.

    This piece is also being a little, shall we say mischievous, about its presentation of stats. 52% of people voted to leave but only 25% of young people did? What?

    OK so you say 52% of those who voted, but I am sure you would be unhappy with an article that claimed (despite it being a perfectly valid observation) that only 36% of people voted to leave the EU.

    So why say 25% of young people? Where does that figure come from? Again it is unsourced but I suspect it is taking the 75% figure of 18-24 year olds who voted remain and then including all those who did not vote, which is always higher in that age group. Note it does not suit your argument very well to point out that only 9% of young people voted to leave.

    Calling them “generation snowflake” is not charitable btw.

    1. The quote from Pete was from his FB page. I would suggest you read my article a little more carefully as I did not say that he was saying that there were no Leave voters in London. I said what he said…that he didn’t know any in the church circles in which he moved or indeed his locality who voted Leave – that was the point of what I was saying. That is precisely what I said so I have no idea what you are responding to! Perhaps be a little more careful before you critique?

      You seem to suffer from a lot of suspicion as well – which I suspect may be clouding your judgement. I don’t do quotes that are lies or make things up. The other church leader who said that the second referendum was the most important issue facing the church today said so on his FB page. I did not give his name because it would unnecessarily personalise things and I hope he would have the sense to see that it was just emotional overreaction and hyperbole.

      And no I am not being mischievious about stats. I am quite happy to say that 36% of the electorate voted to leave the EU. And the 26% of young people who voted to stay is also the correct figure…so when people say that the young people of Britain voted overwhelmingly to remain, they are just wrong.

      The generation snowflake comment I have dealt with in another comment.

      If you want to be charitable then next time please argue against what I am saying, don’t accuse me of making things up and don’t try to read between the lines. I don’t do lines!

      1. Thank you for sourcing the Pete Broadbent quote. Having now read his Facebook page I see my interpretation was correct about what he said. You will forgive my confusion at what you wrote when you said “And yet despite these radical, right on credentials, he does not know anyone who voted Leave – despite the fact that 40% of the people of London did so” which makes it sound like you are accusing him of having his eyes closed to the level of leave support in his area, whereas he was, of course, making the point, as he says, “that [this] clearly says something about the political and social bubble that is North and North West London, and about church life here.” and he goes on to speak about “plausibility structures”. Perhaps you were trying to make the same point, but I think he made it more clearly. As you now say “I said what he said”, I would understand you to be making the same point, but with your little dig at his history, it certainly looked like you were criticising him for not noticing or being honest about leave voters around him.

        I do not “suffer from a lot of suspicion” as critical thinking is not a disease. I dislike arguments being made from unsourced data and anecdotes, because in my experience these anecdotes are easily coloured by our preconceptions and thus are misreported. That is not an accusation of dishonesty, mind: just an observation of the fact that we all see things through our own lens of experience. Notice you did it right here when you accused me of “sufferi[ing] from a lot of suspicion”. You don’t know me, have no idea about anything I believe beyond what I wrote here, and yet you can already judge my level of suffering and suspicion?

        You continue to refuse to source the Christian leader quote so I cannot evaluate that, but I personally have never met a Christian leader anywhere who honestly felt that a second referendum is the most important thing in the world today, and I find such a view incomprehensible for a Christian. Although, to you, that is the point, you will understand that to me it makes your anecdote suspect, and I reject it as hearsay. If your point is that there are more important matters in the world than whether the UK leaves the EU, then that is no doubt true, but in no way detracts from what I and many others sincerely believe to be the international disaster that this decision causes. The harm, I think, is to the weak, the poor, the homeless and the voiceless both here in the UK and abroad.

        Of course I fully understand that there are aspects of the EU that also harm those same people. I fully respect a principled objection to elements of the EU system that have harmed, for instance, the poor in Africa – it is just that I don’t think our leaving the EU fixes that – it probably makes it worse, and certainly prevents our changing things to improve that situation, whereas our leaving the EU has an immediate detrimental effect to people here and abroad.

        Whether you agree or not, if you cannot see why Christians who care about these things and are convinced that this was the largest mistake this country has made since the invasion of Egypt (or at least since the invasion of Iraq) then you cannot hope to understand why it really is very important that the 48% stand firm on their principles and continue to make the argument that we should pull back from the brink.

        You claim you were not being mischievous about stats. I think you should consider more carefully how you present them in the future. The 58% of ordinary Christians voting leave is also wrong – see my pingback on that issue.

        I cannot see an apology over the Generation Snowflake comment, but I do see the comment where you say “Not all young people are Generation Snowflake.”

        I put it to you that the use of “Generation Snowflake” therefore is as uncharitable as “librarians are old harridans”, with a quick follow-up “present company excepted of course”. You are seeking to stereotype a generation of people because of a perceived vacillation on issues that you do not apparently see in other generations. I don’t really think that is worthy of Christian debate. Do you?

      2. Stephen…its a shame you won’t/can’t admit your mistake. I clearly stated (as you quote) that Pete was saying he did not know anyone who voted Leave although he knew that many had done so. You chose to take the wrong reading of that and twist it as though I was saying something else.

        Likewise with the suspicion. It was you who said you were suspicious. You can choose to believe what I write or not.

        I love the idea that I hear from some Christians that this is not about cheaper holidays abroad, or some great European ideal, or the fact that their company/institution relies on EU funding, but rather “the weak, the poor, the homeless and the voiceless both here in the UK and abroad.” I don’t doubt that that is genuine but it is both mistaken and patronising. 70% of those in the CDE groups voted Leave. It is unquestionably the case that the majority of the poor voted to leave. Is this because they are too stupid to work out what is for their best? The irony is that for voice the voiceless were given a voice and it mattered. The fact that they said what the powerful did not want to hear is wonderful! But of course they were wrong and they should realise that the people of Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Central London were really speaking for them! If only the poor in Bishop Petes area knew that he and all his church were really speaking for them!

        But that won’t stop the 48%….democracy must be negated….this is a disaster because we say so and even if the we is a minority, so what. We know and the majority are just too stupid (or racist) to grasp it.

        The stats were correct – despite your attempt to misrepresent what I said.

        As for being worthy of Christian debate. I stand by what I said and I would appreciate it if you argued against what I said, rather than what I don’t. I think my explanation of Generation Snowflake is accurate. You don’t. Fine…but don’t play the ‘hurt’ or ‘uncharitable’ card…what matters is whether it is true or not….not whether you like it or not. Was Christ wrong when he spoke of a generation of vipers? How dare he stereotype a generation of people….was Jesus not worthy of Christian debate?

    1. An interesting article…not sure how, without any figures, you can ‘guarantee’ that 58% of practising Christians did not vote Leave? I also note that you quote Billy Bragg’s rather silly comment ‘not every Vote Leave was racist but every racist voted Leave’ in agreement. That is false. I know racists who voted Remain (those for example who believe in ‘Europe’ and want a fortress Europe to protect European civilisation and keep out the Africans, Asians and Arabs)….I have heard racist comments from Remain people. So your statement is just demonstrably false. Enjoyed the rest of the article though…

  8. I didn’t know what generation snowflake was before reading this article, I had to google it, I not sure labelling people is the way to build bridge more like push them apart.

    1. Generation Snowflake is a reference to the dumbed down lunacy that is affecting students in British and American universities at the moment – who seem to need ‘safe spaces’ and want to be protected from any idea that they don’t like – because it hurts their feelings. So Germaine Greer gets banned…Peter Tatchell gets banned….any UKIP speaker is banned….Generation Snowflake is a perfect description for a group who one year are anti-capitalist and the next year are crying because they fear the capitalist corporations might be hurt by Brexit. Not all young people are Generation Snowflake, and not every young person who voted Remain (only 26% of the young) behave like that. But the ones who go on demonstrations crying ‘we want our EU back’ and yelling obscenities at anyone who disagrees with them, certainly does.

  9. “I find it fascinating that you think the leaders of the EU parliament are equivalent to CEs of a bank. Kind of sums up your position on democracy!”

    ECB=European Central Bank

    And I compared the president of the ECB with the Governor of the Bank of England, not the CE of a bank.

    1. Yes – I know what the ECB is and yes I know who the governor of the Bank of England is….he is not an elected official. Again it is fascinating that you equate bankers with politicians. It says a great deal about your view of who should govern society!

  10. And again you rather missed the point as it was the head of the ECB that was being cited as an example of how there is a democratic deficit in the EU. It was a play on ignorance by a mendacious politician.

    And as for your:

    “Yes I am very happy that the people voted against the Establishment and Project Fear and Smear.”

    Shows how we were so badly let down by this debate. Firstly every use of “project fear” as a moniker was an attempt to shut down debate. Second, fear tactics were very clearly used by leave in the publication sent through my door at tax payers expense that told us the rubbish about Turkey being on the brink of joining the EU, telling us their population and then only labelling the countries Syria and Iraq on the map. That was as great scaremongering as imaginable.

    You raise Turkey as a “lie” because of the 3,000 claim. That claim was clearly hyperbole (“at their current rate of progress it will be…”)

    As Christians we should sincerely hope that their progress will speed up in the future because that will mean that there is progress in achieving democracy and a free, just and open society in Turkey, which would altogether be a good thing (and historically has been a crowning success of the EU. Before Britain joined the EU we propped up the last fascist regime in Europe through our support of EFTA, while the EEC as it was was championing democracy). Nevertheless it is quite certainly true that Turkey is not going to be joining any time soon, which is sad, and doubly sad that Christians might think that this is good news.

    So fear tactics were very much used by Leave, but then what about smear? Here leave were past masters at it. Every expert, independent body, foreign government or local politician – anyone who dare speak the case for remain was smeared by the leave side. Time and again the attacks were ad hominem and just wrong. The attack on the IFS would be just one case in point. The attacks on Michael Dougan another:

    That video will also give you a run down on the lies told by leave. Not me saying that, but all the independent fact checkers too. As Michael Dougan pointed out, there were misrepresentations on both sides but leave in particular had taken lying to an industrial scale.

    1. Turkey was a lie. Cameron had said that his aim was to get accession ASAP. There were talks with Turkey the day after the referendum….

      As for your view that Turkey joining will/could result in democracy and a free, just and open society – this is fantasy that does not take into account Islam and the history of Turkey. Could you name one Islamic country which are free, open tolerant and democratic?

      1. You appear to have argued against your own position!

        Becoming a free, just and open liberal democracy is what Turkey *must* become if it is to join the EU. You say it can never happen, which appears to be pretty much the claim that was (I hope wrongly) made by the remain side in the referendum. You are right that the British position was to encourage enlargement – that had always been the British position, but it does not change the fact that all new members must fulfil the conditions of membership, and key to this would be chapter 23, Judiciary and Fundamental Rights and chapter 24, justice, freedom and security. Turkey still has a long way to go on these principles, and so accession will not happen anytime soon.

        Again you appear to be quoting some mischievous press reporting about the 30 June talks. In March of this year France dropped its veto on opening talks with Turkey over chapter 33, Financial and Budgetry, and so the June talks had long been scheduled so as to formally open talks on that chapter. Nevertheless there is a very very long way to go in those talks, so the fact that we talk with Turkey does not mean that accession can happen any time soon. It can’t.

        Turkey, btw, models itself as a secular state despite islam being the dominant religion. It is also a republic with some level of democracy already, albeit flaws that stand in the way of accession to the EU. I don’t see any point in arguing whether a state where people are muslim *can* be a democracy in this thread: I simply note that either it can, in which case one day it will be an EU member, or else it cannot in which case accession will be permanently denied.

        It is one or the other, and any suggestion otherwise is scaremongering.

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