Its a shame when the church, any church is scared of speaking out against evil. We get ourselves into such a pickle sometimes about what people might find out about us, or raise a mirror to our actions which may cause controversy. In that we are human – we like to think we do the right things, for the right reasons, but we dislike the fact that such stances may get us into trouble. We like to be liked.
There are evils in this world for which clergy in Scotland are getting personal grief – myself for a stance on racism on facebook (I deleted a friend for being racist, and that wasn’t liked by many). Far more significantly, another colleague is being abused and threatened, his church property threatened and his personal life brought into public eye because of a stand against sectarianism in his wee part of God’s Kingdom. He is a courageous and brave man of God.
Sectarianism is a corruption of faith, an evil in this green and beautiful land. That those who claim the faith of Christ can stand in hatred against others who claim that same faith (but express it within a different tradition), can threaten violence and intimidate in the name of God: that is evil.
Sectarianism in western Scotland surrounds us – it is immersed in small community cultures, in the football of this city in which I reside.
Its not something I ever understood, growing up in England, and then living on the East coast. My first experiences were hearing Irish student friends talking about life back home (one in particular, shared some really scary experiences of when her dad, a Church of Ireland Priest, refused to march or bless the march taking place); and hearing the flutes and drums as I worked in a bookshop in Edinburgh, and asking what the parade was that we were all missing – I had assumed until that point that sectarianism was limited to the troubles in Ireland and the football in Glasgow. The worst I have personally experienced was having my car rocked by a couple drunken youths shouting “F*ck the Pope” the day John Paul II died. Frightening yes, but easy to speed away from.
I doubt I ever will understand it. But I have seen the pain in the eyes of those who have (and are) experiencing it first hand in much worse ways than I ever have. It is an evil in this world, contrary to the love of God for ALL, contrary to the prayers of Jesus that ALL MAY BE ONE in his grace.
Prejudice of any kind, whether based on faith tradition, colour of skin, gender, sexuality, nationality or social status has no place within the Church, or in society in general. The bigotry of humanity cannot be allowed to overshadow the capacity for love and grace within those same human hearts. Regardless of our fears for ourselves, or our church, we must continue to speak out against this diminishing of human spirit.
Those who make sectarian, racist, homophobic or sexist remarks on facebook or on this blog will continue to be removed – if I end up with only 3 friends left, so be it. I don’t care whether they are regarded as “jokes” or not – I will not be part of the cycle which perpetuates the myth of superiority based on grinding down other human beings!
Pray for those who fight such evil, pray for those brave souls who stand up and be counted despite the flack – support them and love them! Pray for the communities feeling vulnerable and victimised as marches take place this weekend. And pray for the marchers, for the idiots who bring violence to the streets – love those who hate and hurt you as a very wise man once said!