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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Hold Thou Thy Cross

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has angered many campaigners with his suggestion that the cross itself has become a religious decoration. As ever with the Archbishop, if you understand what he is trying to say you know what he means but the average Christian in Britain today will not analyse what was said so may misinterpret the message. Nowadays many Christians, especially Anglicans, may go to church at Easter and/or Christmas. Otherwise they are more likely to be taken in at their baptism, walk in for their wedding and be wheeled in for their funeral when Abide with me will be sung. Sometimes families will have long forgotten the hundreds of other hymns in the English Hymnal but for others, the hymn and the Cross have a deep religious significance, a significance that will encourage them to wear a cross rather than, eg, the mark of Satan even if as a piece of jewellery the latter may appear more decorative. 

Whether worn as jewellery or not, the Cross is still the most potent Christian symbol. The fact that there is no compulsion to wear it makes Christianity what it is, relying on God's grace rather than the compulsion of man-made rules. But is this to be our undoing? Equalities Minister, Lynne Featherstone, has embarked on a battle to stop Christians being able to wear a cross at work 'because it is not a strict requirement of the Christian faith' but where is the equality in that when we are daily forced to observe the religious symbols of other faiths. I recommend reading a legal view of this decision here and an interesting political judgement here

Whilst the Government is busy helping to suppress Christianity and Christian values in this country, sadly Mrs Featherstone's “live-and-let-live policy” does not extend to Christians who are under threat simply for being Christian. To use two current examples of blind prejudice, In Iran Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani faces execution for refusing to recant his Christian faith. In Pakistan the life of Shamim Bibi, mother of a 5-month-old girl, is under threat charged with ‘Blasphemy’ for refusing Islam. 

If you believe that the Government's action to stop Christians wearing a cross at work is wrong you can act now as suggested here.

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