Sunday March 22 2015

Western secularism is like Islamic fundamentalism

By Bishop Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa

While the world’s attention is on the ISIS killer machine that is poised to annihilate Christians in Iraq, no attention is being given to an equally devastating and sophisticated ‘annihilation of Christianity in Western European and the United States.

Whilst Islamic fundamentalism is manifest through the sword and rifle to eliminate the ‘infidels’, in the Western world, Western secularism takes the form of subtle legislation that makes it difficult for religion to be practiced.

The promotion of freedom of speech and religion in what was once described as the ‘developed and civilised worlds’, has serious limitations since it is increasingly becoming difficult for religious groups to express their beliefs or be engaged in evangelism owing to few powerful lobby groups that have influenced legislation .

There is a catalogue of court cases in England where Christians are hounded for preaching the word of God or living their faith. The court cases against Christians are presented in the guise of infringing on the fundamental human rights of other citizens.

Western secularism is under-guarded by values that squeeze religion out of the public sphere and instead promote a materialistic or mundane notion of life that glorifies the sanctity of a human being who is not accountable to God.

The pursuit of personal pleasure is the ultimate goal of a secularist mentality as opposed to the realisation of commonly held beliefs, values or norms. The interesting logic of Western secularism is that while it glorifies the human being, it legislates against anybody who infringes on the rights and freedoms of the individual and this may include sharing with such an individual the word of God, sharing religious views in a public place either in audio or print media!

According to Christian weekly magazine Christian Concern of March 7, Michel Overd, a street preacher, was recently arraigned before court in Somerset, UK, for promoting ‘hate speech’ through preaching against homosexuality and fornication.

Sergeant Kimmins of Somerset police called upon anybody offended by Overd’s preaching to call police on 101 or email any video evidence. In a related incident, the Christian weekly magazine of March 5 reported a case of Sarah Mbuyi, a nursery teacher, who is facing the Employment Tribunal after her dismissal from her job citing gross misconduct following the sharing of her religious views about homosexuality with a workmate in a private conversation.

The counsel for Mbuyi is quoted saying, “We are seeing a frightening lack of regard for freedom to express Christian opinion. There has been no attempt to cover up blatant hostility towards and disregard of Christian values based on the Bible.”

The most interesting attack on Biblical ethical values was reported in the Christian weekly magazine of January 19, in which the lord chief justice of England disciplined a Christian magistrate, Richard Page, for mishandling an adoption case when the latter argued that the best interests of a child could be met in the care of a father and mother and not by same sex couple.

Richard Page was accused of being influenced by his Christian beliefs about family life and he was publically reprimanded and barred from sitting as a magistrate until he receives ‘equality training’ for his views.

Bishop Michel Nazir Ali, a renowned Anglican prelate, summed up the criticism of Richard Page by saying the lord chief Justice had declared war on Christianity and the government and law officers are intent on preventing Christians from manifesting their faith in the public square.

No wonder Western secularism refers to a post-Christian and now post-modern era in Europe and Americas where religion is no longer of significance in public domain and at this rate I opine, is bound to be annihilated and perhaps become a relic in the next 20 years in same way as Christianity might be in Iraq following the onslaught of Islamic fundamentalism.

The writer is the Bishop of Ankole Diocese and Chancellor Bishop Stuart University