The only thing we have to fear is fear itself

The self-pity of godbotherers never ceases to amaze.

Pop open the mulled wine, fill-up on minced pies, enjoy the office parties, swap presents, take a holiday – but whatever you do, don’t mention Jesus. In fact, don’t even mention the word ‘Christmas’ – say festive season, winter break, or happy holidays.

Sounds like a joke, right? Wrong. It’s Christmas in Britain 2016. No, it’s not all pervasive, but it’s happening, the fist-in-a-velvet-glove reality for any number of people, particularly Christians, in workplaces up and down the country.

And it has led the British Prime Minster, a Catholic bishop, and the UK’s equality commissioner to speak out about this sort of nonsense – it has to stop.

Ah there it is – the fuming outrage at non-existent fists in gloves combined with eagerness to tell other people what to do. “It has to stop” – what does? People not wanting religion forced on them? That has to stop, does it? According to whom, and what will be the penalties for disobedience?

Bishop Mark Davies has warned of a ‘strange silence’ fuelled by a ‘terrible perversion’ of political correctness that is making Christians fearful of speaking publicly about their faith.

Bollocks. Nobody’s afraid. Nobody’s being attacked or punished, and nobody’s afraid. Some of us don’t want to hear people blithering on about “their faith” but that’s not a reason to be afraid. People don’t go around quaking in terror about being asked to stop talking during the movie at movie theaters, and they don’t go around quaking in terror about being asked to keep their religion to themselves, either. They may not like it, but that’s not fear.

“There has been a danger of a strange silence falling over our land which has recently led the Prime Minister to urge Christians never to be afraid of speaking freely in the public space,” said Bishop Davies.

“She insisted that our Christian heritage is something of which everyone can be proud, and Christians must ‘jealously guard’ their right to speak publically about their faith. The Prime Minister is doubtless conscious of the strange phenomenon of local authorities and public bodies who fear that even to mention the word ‘Christmas’ might be a cause of offence.”

Christians don’t have an unfettered “right to speak publicly about their faith.” They have the normal free speech rights that everyone has (in the UK, which is the issue here), but that does not mean they get to force religious discourse on people who don’t want it.

“Somewhat more sinisterly, people tell me how they have felt inhibited or even intimidated in their places of work when speaking of their Christian faith and how it shapes their conscience and values.

“In a country founded on the Christian faith, it is a terrible perversion of political correctness that would so intimidate people from speaking of Christianity: the very faith and moral path which has shaped our way of life.”

That’s so ludicrous. If co-workers don’t want to hear it, they don’t want to hear it. Bishops don’t get to force them to hear it. It’s not persecution to say no thank you, I’m not interested.

Prime Minister May, a practising Anglican and the daughter of an Anglican vicar, expressed her opinions on the treatment of Christians in the public square in response to a question from Fiona Bruce, a member of parliament, in late November.

Mrs Bruce asked the Prime Minister to welcome a new report by the Evangelical Alliance and the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, called Speak Up.

The report, she said, “confirms that in our country the legal rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech to speak about one’s faith responsibly, respectfully and without fear, are as strong today as ever.”

The Prime Minister welcomed the report, adding: I’m sure that we would all want to ensure that people at work do feel able to speak about their faith, and also be able to speak quite freely about Christmas.”

Mrs Bruce also highlighted comments made by David Isaacs, the UK’s Equalities Commissioner, who is concerned that Christians were now fearful about mentioning their faith in public.

Speaking to The Sunday Times newspaper, Mr Isaacs criticized organizations, including public institutions, which have dropped references to Christmas unnecessarily from cards and celebrations out of fear of offending people of other faiths or none.

Or maybe not out of “fear of offending” but rather out of desire to be considerate. What about that, eh? And what’s wrong with that? Not a damn thing. It’s simply true that Christians are not the only people there are, and that a lot of people enjoy the solstice party who are not Christians.

There’s no war on Christmas, but there certainly is a war on being thoughtful.

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