From Diocese of Westminster:
I am becoming tired of the mockery of those who seem to regard faith communities, especially Christian ones, as intrusive and contrary to the common good. I label them Christophobic. They wish to close off every voice and contribution other than their own. Their inability to see the Christian seed in what is noble and good in Western culture chills the possibility of a true pluralism. Sometimes it spills over into the kind of anti-Christian bigotry that has appeared on some university campuses.
The great majority of people in our country do not want the erosion of a culture that is ultimately rooted in Christianity and its values. The presence in Britain of Muslims and other faith communities is leading to a renewed interest in Christian identity, boiled down if you like to the simple proposition that if a Muslim woman may wear a headscarf, a Christian woman should be able to wear a cross.
What is lacking in the new secular aggressiveness is the very Christian virtue of doubt. Only secularists such as Professor Dawkins seem to have no doubt when it comes to faith. We cannot build a truly human society on such narrow and rigid foundations.
Religion is not safe or easy. The new presence in Britainof an angry expression of Islam is a challenge; but the right response is not an angry dismissal of faith. We will not bring about a society at greater ease with itself by attempting to declare faith-free zones. British society is not a secular fortress needing to repel boarders, but a society permeated by belief as well as non-belief. The public space must be broad and permeable if it is to be truly public.
On my entry into seminary 56 years ago, my parish priest advised me to “Pray for perseverance”. I thought it rather unimaginative counsel at the time; now it seems to me quite inspired. For believers, the real task is to witness to God’s presence by lives of love and service, patiently persisting with those we disagree with.