Wednesday, October 21, 2009

UK: religious liberty fading fast

Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 027 | Wed 21 Oct 2009

UNITED KINGDOM: RELIGIOUS LIBERTY FADING FAST

In London, England, in the 1370s, John Wycliffe suffered intensive persecution for daring to protest for biblical truth. In 1415 John Hus was burnt at the stake in Prague, Bohemia, for doing the same. On 31 October 1517 a German monk named Martin Luther risked martyrdom and worse -- the Inquisition -- when he launched his protest for biblical truth: salvation by grace through faith, not merited by works. He sought reform but got division, and the Protestant Church was born. Religious liberty and the revival of biblical theology brought many positive consequences to the societies that embraced it. As a result, 31 October has traditionally been remembered as Reformation Day. But as Protestant prosperity grew, so too did the rot of pride and arrogance. Before long, Protestant societies were not only forgetting God and the truths that gave liberty to their positive energies and made them great, but 'in pride and arrogance of heart' (Isaiah 9:9b) were rejecting God and his word as irrelevant.

British MP William Wilberforce (1759-1833), though remembered primarily as an abolitionist, was passionate about Britain's need for spiritual reformation as it was in a state of advanced decay. Not only had the nation largely forgotten God but its church had mostly returned to a works-based theology, believing that people merited salvation because they were 'good' -- not that people were good because they were saved by grace through faith. (See William Wilberforce, A Practical View of Christianity, chapter 3.)

The awakening and spiritual reform that Wilberforce launched turned the tide in the UK. But today nearly 500 years on from Luther and some 250 years on from Wilberforce, the UK is in trouble again and is desperately in need of a fresh awakening. Moreover religious liberty is fading fast.

All Nations Church in Kennington, South London, was recently ordered not to use its sound system for its sermons or music so as to avoid offending its (Muslim) neighbours. A Christian office worker from South London, Denise Haye (25), was recently sacked for expressing her disapproval of homosexuality. A Christian nurse from Exeter, Shirley Chaplin (54), was recently threatened with disciplinary action after she refused to remove the cross from her necklace that she had worn without a complaint throughout 30 years of nursing. A Deputy Registrar with Islington Borough Council, Theresa Davies (59), was demoted because she refused to preside over same-sex civil partnership ceremonies. A Christian nurse with 40 years' experience, Anand Rao (71), was sacked after he suggested to a training seminar that distressed palliative care patients could try going to church. A Christian community nurse and professional foster mother (with 80 children's-worth of experience) was recently struck off the register for failing to prevent a 16-year-old Muslim girl converting to Christianity. A Christian homelessness prevention officer with 18 years' experience, Duke Amachree (53), was sacked by Wandsworth Council for sharing his faith with a client who had lost hope. Revd Noble Samuel of Heston United Reformed Church, West London, who debates Muslims on his TV Gospel program, was hijacked in his car by three Urdu-speaking assailants who grabbed him by the hair, ripped off his cross and threatened to break his legs if he continued broadcasting. These cases (all in 2009) are just the tip of the iceberg. If the Equality Bill that is now making its way through parliament passes (as expected), then persecution will increase dramatically.

(For the above cases see http://www.christianlegalcentre.com http://www.ccfon.org
http://www.christian.org.uk )

While Christians are being silenced, Islamisation is advancing, with Islamic fundamentalists appeased at every turn by short-sighted politicians who lack political courage and hanker after political gain. While Christians are fined, sacked and sued for expressing their faith, Anjem Choudary's Islam4UK is free to run its Islamic Roadshows all across the country . Independent think-tank Civitas recently reported that Britain already has some 85 Sharia Courts operating openly, advising illegal actions and transgressing human rights with impunity. Not content with this, some 5000 supporters of Islam4UK are expected to join a 'March for Sharia' from the House of Commons to Trafalgar Square on 31 October, which coincidentally is Reformation Day.

(An example of Islam4UK's Islamic Roadshow in action {Birmingham, June 2009} )

As long as the various anti-Christian lobby groups can silence Christians and shut down debate through anti-defamation, anti-vilification and anti-discrimination laws along with threats of violence, they will be on a winning trajectory with little resistance -- that is, until violent conflict erupts. Violent 'race' clashes are already on the increase, mostly in response to protests against Islamisation. The UK is in trouble.


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT:

* God will greatly bless those Christians who are courageously defending gospel truths and values in the UK's courts and streets, that they will have abundant grace, wisdom and boldness from the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 10:16-20,38,39)

* as Muslims 'March for Sharia' on 31 October -- Reformation Day -- British Christians will remember the courage of Martin Luther and be motivated by the heritage they have in Wycliffe, Ridley, Wilberforce, Carey and others.

* revival will come to the UK Church so that the nation's Christians will step out boldly with gospel truths and values, being prepared to suffer and, in Wilberforce's words, 'be wholly indebted' to the God of grace for everything.

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. (v29 of Isaiah 40:28-31 ESV)