Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Ed West's "Is Christianity killing Europe?" - and Pope Francis's assertion that "religions don't want war - the others do"!

If you're an Anglican or a Catholic, you'll have heard the leader of your church encouraging you to take in a family of Syrian refugees. This will have resulted in a lot of soul-searching, as the reaction of most Anglicans and Catholics to the suggestion was undoubtedly, "Are you out of your freakin' mind, Your Holiness?" Being Christians, we then no doubt all felt jolly guilty about our lack of caritas (well, I didn't, but I'm not a very good Christian). The problem is that Christianity is a religion of inclusion, of universality - it welcomes everyone, even (or especially) sinners. It's a religion which offers comfort to outcasts, the despised, the friendless, the wretched of the earth: in marketing terms, that's its USP - extending the warm hand of friendship and lovingkindness to distressed immigrants fleeing a war-torn land is pretty near the top of its To Do list. But, as Ed West points out in his excellent Lapidomedia article, "Is Christianity killing Europe?", extending the warm hand of friendship willy-nilly to vast numbers of Muslim refugees (not to mention hordes of economic migrants) is proving to be a suicidal act of "pathological altruism".

As Ed West puts it, "As a Catholic I’ve come to the conclusion that our contemporary version of the faith, and the actions of our religious leaders, are actually threatening our future." It's a longish article, and I would urge you to read all of it, but this extract contains the main thrust of West's argument:
This universalism is what makes European Christian countries so nice to live in, but the downside is what is called ‘pathological altruism’; that is, altruism that harms the interests of one’s own group and favours people who might not reciprocate. This did not matter while the simple fact of geography kept different parts of the world distant, and when newcomers were expected to conform, but in the jet age – and especially the smart phone age – it presents a serious weakness.
The downside of Christian universalism is that it invites settlement from people who are themselves clannish and divide the world into an in-group and out-group, often between the believers and non-believers.
And for all the sympathy one might feel for the migrants as individuals, there is no way such large-scale movement of clannish people into decadent societies will not cause social unrest.
Importing significant numbers of people from outside Europe is clearly not in our continent’s interests, yet it is hard to make the moral argument because of the logic that we should not discriminate against the outsider, something ingrained in us by Christianity.
In some ways this is a misreading of the faith, for Christianity is about voluntary altruism, whereas forcing one’s poorer countrymen to make the sacrifices (and it would inevitably fall on the poor, whose neighbourhoods would be home to the refugees), is not.
But that is a complex argument to make, and it is one that no bishop does.
And, of course, they damn well should. I - and, I'm sure, many other Christians - are fed up to the back teeth with the goofy, namby-pamby wetness of Christian religious leaders who have time and again proved themselves unwilling to consider the practical consequences of what they keep urging their followers to do: instead of doing some hard thinking and coming up with sensible advice, they've invariably plumped for feelgood platitudes. Justin Welby has been bad enough in this regard, but Pope Francis, in particular, has been wantonly, fecklessly silly throughout the refugee crisis.

Today, as he arrived in Poland, the Pope addressed the issue of the grotesque murder of an old and saintly-sounding French priest by Muslim savages as he was celebrating the Mass, and said something bracingly realistic:
"The word we hear a lot is insecurity, but the real word is war. We must not be afraid to say the truth, the world is at war because it has lost peace."
I emitted a gasp of relief at hearing those words. At last - the truth! But then the pontiff added the following:
"When I speak of war I speak of wars over interests, money, resources, not religion. All religions want peace, it's the others who want war."
What? Who are these "others", exactly? Islamic State is waging a war in the name of a specific religion. Okay, the version of Islam fuelling Isil is a decidedly fundamentalist one, but it's supported by many of the verses in Islam's holy book, the Koran - and by many Muslims. An ICM poll published yesterday showed that up to 16% of French citizens are sympathetic towards Isil - that's 16% of all French citizens, not just French Muslims. That alarming figure rises to 27% - more than a quarter - of all French citizens aged between 18 and 24!

Granted, the conflicts in the Arab world and the horrors currently being perpetrated there and, increasingly, in Europe undoubtedly have a lot to do with a pathological fear of modernity (including the emancipation of women, the acceptance of homosexuality, the loss of unearned status amongst young, angry-looking men with beards, and the terror of having to be responsible for your own thoughts, beliefs and actions) - but pretending that what's happening in the Middle East has nothing to do with Islam is either a sign of cowardice or stupidity, or both. The Catholic church - all Christians - really require the world's most significant Christian leader to stop spouting vague Marxist liberation theology clichés and start telling the truth. For God's sake. And ours.


  1. Deuteronomy17:12; Ezekiel 35:7-9; Matthew 10:34-35; Isaiah 14:21 Ezekiel 9:5; Exodus 31:12-15; Leviticus 20:10; Numbers 31: 17-18; Leviticus 21:9; Chronicles 15:12-13 and Deuteronomy 13:7-12.

    There's plenty in the Bible to support your 'apocalypse now' exhortations.

    And acting on those exhortations to violence has always been the principle building block of 'Christianity' (man interprets the bible in the manner designed to best fit his own ideology - there are as many versions and interpretations of Christianity as there are versions of Islam).

    You are guilty of false logic. You conflate 'refugee' with 'terrorist'; Islam with terrorism.

    You are (purportedly) an educated man.

    What a disappointment you must be to your University tutors.

    1. The founding texts of Christianity are contained in the New Testament. Only one of your quotations is from the New Testament. Here it is:

      “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

      If you seriously imagine that the sword referred to is a real sword, as opposed to a symbolic one, and that Jesus is actually encouraging daughters to murder their mothers and sons to murder their fathers then you are either spectacularly stupid or too intellectually dishonest to bother arguing with.

      I doubt if you'd recognise an instance of false logic if it bit your backside.

      I am not "purportedly" an educated man. I AM an educated man. I doubt very much whether I am a disappointment to my university supervisor, Sir Roger Scruton.

      If you insist on engaging in ad hominem attacks, I'd urge you to show some guts and stop cowering behind a cloak of anonymity. Otherwise, scram.

    2. Not only his university tutors, Anonymous. He has been a disappointment to his family and friends for years. "He's no better than he ought to be," they kept saying and " He's a fool to himself."

      By the way, are you the Anonymous of Broadstairs or another one? If so, I am reminded of the time Morecambe and Wise first appeared at the Glasgow Empire and a wag shouted out " Och Jesus, there's twae o' the buggers!"

  2. The OT is integral to many Christian churches. Disappointing that you don't appear to be aware of that.

    I was in Bergen-Belsen today - surrounded by so many quotes from Nazi instruction manuals. Variously employing dehumanising language to justify the starving and despicable degradation and murder of Slavs; Poles; Sinti; Jews; the politically 'unacceptable'... I was reminded of you. You who mock human rights and who espouse hatred of the vulnerabe and needy. You whose writings are simply Anders Breivik made wordy, become verbal.

    Scruton? That's the academic card you play? How crass. How pointedly tellingly vulnerable you must feel if you need to play any academic card...

  3. Bergen-Belsen reminded you of me? I'm a verbal version of Anders Breivik?? I mock human rights??? I want to kill Slavs, Poles and Jews????? Even a cursory examination of this blog by a person of below-average intelligence would reveal that I am a believer in democracy and that I abhor all forms of totalitarianism: it's a bit of a theme of mine, and one, I should imagine, that's quite hard to miss.

    Get a grip! You are completely hysterical and irrational. Judging by the humungous amount of moral posturing you indulge in (using the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis as an excuse to make a cheap jibe really is beneath contempt), your present febrile mental state is quite possibly the result of a surfeit of self-righteousness.

    As for being crass, I seem to remember it was you who raised the subject of my university tutors being disappointed in me. I mentioned Sir Roger to demonstrate that, given his own well-publicised views, this was unlikely.

    And let me get this straight. I, who am happy to publish my own extremely sensible, mainstream opinions under my own name, feel "vulnerable" (not something I've ever knowingly been accused of before) while you, who shriek grotesque, demented lies about me from behind a digital invisibility cloak, are an example of steadfast self-assurance?

    It's been fun, Anonymous, but I've wasted enough time on you. Besides, I fear any further exchanges may simply tip you over the edge. You can post more comments if you like, but, depending on how libellous and/or repellent they are, they will either be ignored or deleted. Otherwise, I suggest you take yourself off to the Guardian's Comment is Free comments section, where self-regarding virtue-signallers are more than welcome.

  4. Fascinating stuff, Anon. It led me to read up a little on internet defamation. Private libel is a civil action so it does not involve a prison sentence, but it can lead to a very significant and ruinous fine. I strongly urge you to think very carefully about what you say in print in the future.

    You might find a book by Karen Armstrong of interest. It is called "Fields of Blood - Religion and the History of Violence." [2014].It might bring you some calm. And the rest of us some peace and quiet for a time as it is a big book.

    1. Thanks, SDG - "Fields of Blood" just went to the top of my "To Read" list.