As a family, we were down in Sussex over the weekend spending time with our best friends. Whilst there, I read a newspaper in which a local baptist minister was giving his reasons for standing as a UKIP candidate in the next elections. His reasons were really two fold. Firstly, he feels that UKIP will will help restore the UK to being a ‘Christian Nation’ and secondly he feels that the UK needs to be protected from a ‘bleak and intolerant Europe’.
Quite honestly, I am baffled! On his first point, my agreement lies entirely with Rowan Williams, who this week stated that the UK is post-christian. That is not to state that the UK does not have many christian principles under-girding its laws and organisational structures, it surely does. But that doesn’t make this a Christian Nation. The UK is, at best, a nation in which the majority of people (still) claim to have have some sort of christian faith, having been influenced by christian values. But to state that the nation is therefore “christian” is confusing to say the least. I mean, how “christian” is the UK? The UK invests heavily in weapons of war and breaks international law to engage in combat with other nation states. It protects the super rich and punishes the poor with a combination of tax and welfare cuts. It partakes in the global oligarchy that is the G8 and wields it power to extend its own interests internationally. It upholds global capitalism, as though it were this form of economics that will save the world, and in doing so is fully complicit in the global slave trade which upholds it. The church, like Jesus is to be the pedagogue of the oppressed, not those who make life more comfortable for ourselves, shutting our eyes to injustice whilst some moral principles feel safeguarded.
On his second point, I struggle hugely with the whole issue of independence, because whatever we may want to believe, we actually need each other. We need reconciliation, not division. We need love, not suspicion. We need gift not greed and we need collaboration not competition. How this is organised institutionally and structurally can be debated well, but to me the entire concept of independence stinks. I need you and you need me. The UK needs France, Germany, Romania, Sweden et al. and they need the UK. Where there are barriers and walls of division, we break them down, we do not create more for the sake of self protectionism – I cannot think of anything less christian! We are not made for independence, but for interdependence, for community and for relationship.