DfE labels evangelical Christians ‘extremist’
There’s been a bit of a hoo-ha over the past week about new free schools which have supposedly been licensed to teach ‘creationism’. It is a synthetic fuss, whipped up by the National Secular Society (NSS) and the British Humanist Association (BHA) which has been ably dissected by the Ecclesial Vermin (amongst others).
There is a good piece by Alan Judd in the Telegraph about why some free school applications fail.
That is ‘good’ in all respects bar one. Mr Judd tells us: “I help the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, with the vetting of free schools.” And then has this to say about faith-based applications:
The trouble is, as always, when it’s taken to extremes, whether it’s evangelical Christians, totalitarian Muslims or segregationist Jews. Such applications need careful vetting, not because there shouldn’t be far-out religious and ideological beliefs, but because the taxpayer shouldn’t pay to propagate them – and because children should be able to participate in a wider society without having their horizons narrowed by fundamentalism.Please note that this is a senior adviser to the Secretary of State for Education, involved in the vetting of applicants, who equates ‘evangelical’ with ‘totalitarian’ and ‘segregationist’, thereby writing off an entire corpus of Protestant theology and our nation’s history with murderous regimes and sectarian bigotry.
Certainly, there are one or two extremists who term themselves evangelical. But every denomination of every religion has its fanatics and extremists. Consider the outrage if Alan Judd had written:
...when it’s taken to extremes, whether it’s Catholic Christians, totalitarian Muslims or segregationist Jews.or
...when it’s taken to extremes, whether it’s totalitarian Christians, Sunni Muslims or segregationist Jews.or
...when it’s taken to extremes, whether it’s segregationist Christians, totalitarian Muslims or Orthodox Jews.It is astonishing that he chose to qualify ‘Muslims’ and ‘Jews’ with adjectives of political oppression or separatism, but for Christians he singled out a distinct theological movement. It is evidence of a prejudicial mindset which some might term 'Christianophobic'.
If he had written (say) ‘sectarian Christians, totalitarian Muslims or segregationist Jews’, that would have shown impartiality. But he didn’t. And by choosing to disparage a particular branch of Christian theology, the DfE is pandering to the aggressive, extremist secular-humanist agendas of the NSS and the BHA.
One wonders what the personal religious beliefs of Alan Judd are.
Surely, in light his manifest prejudice against evangelical Christians, we ought to be told.
Evangelical Christians are used to this sort of treatment in Iran, where they are routinely portrayed as being 'corrupt' and 'deviant' like the Taliban. But research by the Evangelical Alliance suggests that they are (quite literally) a broad church, essentially unified theologically upon penal substitutionary atonement, justification by faith, the authority of Scripture, and the priesthood of all believers, but rather disparate on the politics of poverty alleviation and such social issues as abortion and homosexuality.
Evangelical Christians believe that Jesus died for our sins, and rose again from the dead. But this is not mere belief in a doctrine: it is inspiration to active involvement in society. A significantly high proportion of them tend to be trustees of registered charities, members of a political party, or serve as school governors.
Evangelical Christians also beat the national average for serving as councillors for their local authorities and as court magistrates. Astonishingly, a mammoth 91 per cent turned out to vote in the AV referendum (compared to 42 per cent nationally). 81 per cent of evangelicals do some kind of voluntary work at least once a month, contributing a total of around half a million hours each week to their communities. There is substantial evidence that they are more likely to be active in public life, making a huge investment of unpaid time and energy in the voluntary and community sector, in education and health services, in politics and in the trade union movement.
So it is no surprise that evangelical Christians are applying to establish their own free schools. Without 18th-century evangelicals, there would have been no movement towards state education at all.
So please, Mr Judd, do not conflate evangelical Christians with totalitarian Muslims or segregationist Jews, for the singing of Shine, Jesus, Shine ought not to be equated with those enemies of liberal democracy who seek to impose sharia and blow us all to kingdom come.