Religious Liberty, non-violent protest, the Christian Legal Centre and Ekklesia

The left leaning Christian think tank Ekklesia has pointed out a logical inconsistency in the work of the Christian Legal Centre and Christian Concern lack in relation to upholding religious liberty.

It is well worth reading their article which is quite short. But a quick summary: Brian Haw of Westminster War protest fame (the guy who has protested in front of parliament for nay on 10 years), and who is a Christian pacifist is facing court. However, it is unlikely that the CLC will represent him, even though it can and indeed should be argued that evicting Haw from parliament square contravenes his freedom of speech, freedom of protest and freedom of religion. While I think the squatter camp on parliament square is rather a nasty piece of work and surely is an eye saw, the witness to the firm held beliefs (some of which are religiously motivated) are well worth protecting simply for our own witness to places such as North Korea. We are after all still a free country.

The CLC say their concern is about religious liberty and indeed liberty in general, but as Ekklesia rightly point out, they are unlikely to take on his case because if they do have a thought out political theology it likely does not include the protection of free speech and the freedom of religion in protesting war. My gut instinct is that they tend to largely operate by an instinctual understanding of right and wrong, which is largely based on a tribal view (either you’re in or you’re out) of the Christian faith and focuses largely on personal morality than justice broadly defined. Moreover, their view of the church and its role in relation to political engagement is very likely one which says that it is not the church as an institution but the individual activist who should be involved in shaping the moral climate in the political. Even those that are uncomfortable with Andrea Minichiello-Williams and the work of Christian Concern should take note.

Now I am not a pacifist. But I do have a lot of time for Christians who are, because more often than not they tend to have a well thought out theology of politics or a political theology. Even if I disagree with their view of the role of Christians in politics, the people who represent the sort of political theology I tend towards have a lot to learn from pacifist (or antagonists of the state) properly defined.

As I have said in a previous post in reviewing a talk given by Wayne Grudem on his theology of the political (rather than what he called the book, Politics—According to the Bible), conservative Christians are often willing to take the credit for the work done by Christian pacifists but we find it far too easy to critique or even make fun of the pacifism of others.

In order for the CLC and CC to really show that their main goal is upholding religious freedom, they should represent Brian “the unusual Christian” Haw.


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One Response to Religious Liberty, non-violent protest, the Christian Legal Centre and Ekklesia

  1. John Lumgair says:

    Well said! Ekklesia usually annoy me but here they are right.

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