Walsall Advertiser Living Faith Article, published 29 March 2012
Richard Dawkins, author of ‘The God Delusion’, would like us to believe that religion is a spent force, and that the world would be a much better place without religion. Yet two events, one national and one local prove that he is wrong.
Two weeks ago Bolton Wanderers' midfielder Fabrice Muamba collapsed during his teams FA Cup tie against Tottenham, he was rushed into hospital fighting for his life. What has been so extraordinary about this story is that so many people, many of whom I suspect would not necessarily profess to having an active faith, have been praying for Fabrice. His former team mate, Chelsea defender Gary Cahill wore a vest encouraging supporters to "Pray 4 Muamba" and the Sun newspaper rang the headline "God is in Control" below the subheading "Praying for Muamba", and the Daily Star had "In God's Hands". What this goes to show, is that the vast majority of people, whether they have a strong faith or not, in times of difficulty turn to God in prayer.
Closer to home, Monday 26th March marked the first anniversary of the launch of Street Pastors in Walsall. During the last year hundreds of people have been helped by the Street Pastors, Christians from churches across Walsall, who give up their time to patrol the town centre every Friday and Saturday evening from 10pm to 4am. Whether it is providing a listening ear, sweeping up broken glass, or helping someone who has had too much to drink, the presence of the Street Pastors in Walsall has helped to make the town a safer place. This has been recognised by two community service awards that the Street Pastors have received in the last month, one from Walsall Housing Group and the other from the West Midlands Police Authority.
What these two stories go to show is that religion, far from being a spent force, is alive and well in our society, and that faith rather than being a bad thing, is a positive thing that should be nurtured and valued. As we approach the great festival of Easter, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, it is a good reminder of the central role Christianity has played and continues to play in shaping the values of our society, and that we should not be ashamed of our Christian heritage, but value and protect it.