It’s a funny old world. Last night I had a two-minute TV spot on Channel 4 and today has seen a barrage of responses.
4thought.tv has a theme for the week and this week it asks whether Christians are being persecuted in Britain today. Readers of this blog will not be surprised to hear that I don’t think we are being persecuted. Some Christians have responded with anger at my betrayal of the cause and some atheists/humanists have commended what I said. The former think I should be more worried about what is going on out there and the latter think I can be recruited to their cause.
Inevitably, it is more complex than that. I recorded over an hour and a quarter and it was edited into two minutes. I have no complaints and they gave a fair representation of the sweep of matters we discussed. The producer asks questions, but the broadcast piece does not indicate to which questions the statements/views were given in answer. Again, I stress, I have no complaints. However, the one statement I wish had been included was along the lines of:
Being marginalised, misrepresented or misquoted is not the same as being persecuted. And it isn’t just a matter of semantics.
Christians are being persecuted in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, parts of Africa and the Middle East. Being ridiculed a bit or misrepresented by the religiously illiterate in Britain is a pain and poses challenges – but it is not persecution. My point in the broadcast was to encourage Christians to stop seeing themselves as pathetic victims, recognise the amazing freedom we have in (and massive contribution we make to) British society both locally and nationally… and get out there more confidently with the unique gift of Christian faith, service and apologetics. As Liverpool keep discovering, playing defensively allows the opposition all the creative space to attack – and you don’t win football matches by playing that way.
The websites that are claiming me as an ally in the ‘secularist’ cause shouldn’t celebrate too soon. My stance yesterday does not mean that I don’t get fed up with (and argue against) the rather stupid anti-Christian or ignorant/irrational secularist stuff around in the public square. But, rather than bleat about it, I’d rather we took up the creative challenge and engaged seriously with it.
I had no idea about any ‘Not Ashamed’ campaign until I saw it today. Whatever I said yesterday was not an attack on it – hard to do when you don’t know it exists. In fact, you could argue that the point of my 4thought.tv piece was to encourage Christians to stop seeing themselves as victims, to be confident about their faith and its ability to stand in the public square, and to do the opposite of being ashamed.
Although flattered to be commended by the humanist commentariat, they should also be a little bit worried: this isn’t a cave-in to secularism; it is a call to get stuck in with a bit more nous and a bit more confidence in the Gospel.