St Martin's Newsletter 22 April 2012
Not so long ago, it was often said, jokingly, that the Church of England was the Tory Party at prayer. No more! For whatever reason surely not altogether the influence of the LibDems in the coalition, there seems to be a concerted effort by the government to dismantle Christianity as an organised religion in this country. This government actually confuses me – on the one hand we have David Cameron extolling the virtues of Christianity as a stabilising influence in the country, providing many of the values and behavioural ethics which are desirable in a civilised society, while at the same time, his government ministers, Conservatives not Libdems, are arguing passionately before the European Court of Human Rights that Christians are not entitled to show their faith by wearing a cross in their place of work – apparently, if a Christian doesn’t like that, they can get another job. Really? The last time I looked (about 10 minutes ago) there were over 2.5 million unemployed in the United Kingdom – not easy to just “get another job”
Then we have George Osborne’s two pronged attack on the church in his recent budget. His primary target may not have been the Anglican church, but we will suffer, along with every organised religion from the imposition of VAT on repairs to listed buildings, while the curtailment of tax relief on large charitable donations will be potentially detrimental to all charities, including religious organisations.
But enough of my rants and disgruntlement – on a happier note yesterday was the 86th birthday of our Queen, Elizabeth II. Her life may be sheltered, pampered and protected, but she has given 60 years of devoted and selfless service to our country. Born in 1926 to the then Duke and Duchess of York, she was not then in direct line of succession to the throne, but became the heir when her uncle Edward VIII abdicated in favour of his brother who became George VI. Who, in 1926 would have foreseen that Elizabeth’s reign would even exist, let alone emulate that of her great, great, great-grandmother and reach a diamond anniversary?