Today is World Water Day. For Christians water will continue to be much in evidence this week in the Paschal Triduum liturgy of the foot washing and renewal of our baptismal vows.
Water is important in many faiths, be it plunging into the Ganges to wash away sins or Wudhu, the ritual washing performed by Muslims before prayer among them.
The images above compare the tranquility of the River Jordan, where John the Baptist identified Jesus as the Messiah while baptizing, with the horror of seeing the blood of martyrs carried on the waves in the aftermath of the brutal beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by Muslims because they would not convert to Islam, staying faithful to Christ unto life's end.
Writing for The Independent Aaqil Ahmed the BBC's head of religion has warned that Britain needs to address its “chronic lack of religious literacy” if it is to accommodate the rise through new immigration of “more assertive” forms of Christianity with “conflicting views” on same-sex marriage and other human rights issues. His comments were made in advance of a BBC1 documentary, The Battle for Christianity, to be broadcast late this evening (22 March) in which significant changes in the Christian Church in Britain are examined.
The threat to Christianity from within is clearly identified in the documentary. Quoting discredited statistics the Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Rev Alan Wilson, claims that the Church’s resistance to same-sex marriage is "unacceptable to most young Anglican worshipers". Perhaps a little instruction would not come amiss, starting with trendy bishops.
The Independent article continues: "Linda Woodhead, a professor in politics, philosophy and religion at Lancaster University, claimed there was a "struggle now for the heart and soul of Christianity". She said: "For lots of young people, Christianity is now morally objectionable. They don’t want anything to do with churches that don’t believe in human rights and the equality of all human beings."
When it comes to human rights we would be better served if Ahmed concentrated more on the threat to Christianity posed by his religion, Islam. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) remains the single most significant statement of the international community’s commitment to freedom of religion or belief, something that Christians in Great Britain take for granted. But not so in many Islamic states.
From "Article 18: an orphaned right - A report of the All Party Parliamentary Group on International Religious Freedom" (page 13):
" Within some states the continued application of classical punishments for apostasy, including the death penalty, and the imposition of draconian criminal sanctions for blasphemy, makes the free exercise of the right to renounce Islam or to convert to another religion virtually impossible. While acknowledging the deep-rooted colonial legacies of many of the current blasphemy laws, it unfortunately remains the case that the threat posed by the presence of such draconian laws does not permit a rational religious or ideological debate that would allow for free informed choices to be made on converting to another religion."
Anyone who doubts the wisdom of accepting thousands of Muslim immigrants with open arms having previously repelled Islamic invasions is characterised by morally superior do-gooders as lacking Christian charity. Again little is reported in the media but reports of appalling immigrant behaviour in Germany and Sweden are truly frightening if people take the trouble to read them.
Death for apostasy, honour killings, child marriage, FGM, sexual abuse, etc, etc, await Muslims found to be in error as well as non-Muslims, the Kafir, a derogatory term used by Muslims to describe those who reject Islam
Water is used for purification but no matter how many times Islamists cleanse themselves, they cannot wash away their sins. Ablution is not conversion. That requires making disciples of all the nations (bishops please note), baptizing them with water in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. The difference between Christian service of free will and Islamic servitude. This is the challenge Christians are charged with in the Gospel.
That is the "chronic lack of religious literacy" the BBC's head of religion needs to address before it is too late for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.