Saturday, 30 May 2009

Michael Nazir-Ali: Jesus wouldn't have voted BNP

[...] When we talk of a society built on Christian values, it is often misunderstood as a reference to intolerance, of exclusivity. The ultimate expression of this tendency comes in a campaign billboard, unveiled in March, which quoted scripture out of context, then posed the question: "What would Jesus do?" The answer given was simple: "Vote BNP."

This was a clear example of using Christian-sounding words to promote a profoundly anti-Christian agenda. No one should be taken in by it. The policies advocated by the BNP are contrary to our belief that all human beings, regardless of race or colour, have a common origin and are made in God's image. It is this belief which underlies those British values of human dignity and equality. There can be no compromise about such values. It is recognised that the number of people coming to live and work in Britain must be limited to what the social and economic fabric can sustain. Nevertheless, the Christian value of hospitality demands that those who come legally are welcomed. Providing refuge for the genuinely persecuted is also a long-standing British tradition, and must be upheld.

So when we ask "What would Jesus actually do?", the answer is clear. He would include all in the embrace of his Father's love, and so change them that they begin to live for others, to meet the needs of strangers and to work for a just and compassionate society.

Such work is badly needed. Not only have we witnessed the sometimes deliberate destruction of a moral framework for our social and economic life in Britain, but we have also seen the steady erosion in the formation of character. For example, if The Daily Telegraph has revealed anything fundamental about our political masters, it is the woeful lack of that character building, which leads us to behave with integrity and put service to the nation before self. But before we give in to scapegoating people, we have to admit that there has been a lack of emphasis on the formation of conscience and moral awareness in the nation. Once, responsibility, trust, truth-telling and hard work characterised what was best about us. These are virtues derived from Christian beliefs. Have our schools and universities been inculcating such virtues? If they have, how have we come to such a pretty pass in our national life? Read more
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