The alarming increase in racism in Northern Ireland has set the alarm bells ringing. Who would have thought that Belfast would ever be described as some now describe it – “The race-hate capital of the UK”?
It wasn’t always like this. Even in the bad old days of the Troubles, Ulster had a good name in respect of the treatment of foreign nationals. When the Vietnamese boat people arrived in 1979, having fled from the killing fields of Southeast Asia they settled in homes supplied by the Housing Executive and furnished by voluntary organisations.
Today the powers-that-be still aid foreign nationals living in Northern Ireland. And the vast majority of ordinary people welcome the diversity that has enriched life there, as well as the dedicated contribution that Poles, Portuguese, Chinese etc. make to the local economy. But it is the paramilitaries that are the problem. Gerard Stewart, writing for the Institute for Race Relations says – “There is a high correlation between racist attacks and areas which are a traditional heartland for affiliation to prominent Loyalist paramilitary groups.” (www.irr.org.uk).
This new sectarianism is no more for God and Ulster than the ‘old’ sectarianism, and it highlights a problem that has dogged the province for many years – too much religion and not enough Christianity! Extreme secularists baulk at the suggestion that Christianity can solve problems. But the Bible encourages an honourable unity and not division. Think about it.
Abraham (a favourite of Jews and Muslims as well as Christians) had common cause with those who did not share his faith, in the rescuing of the men of Sodom and his nephew Lot from captivity. Paul showed the folly of racism by saying that God made “of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” Peter, who had been a devout Jew, learned that no man is “common or unclean.”
The Gospel itself is the greatest power at combatting division. It breaks down walls between a man and his Maker and walls between men (Ephesians 2:13, 14).
A practical illustration will help. General Robert E. Lee was a devout Christian. Soon after the end of the American Civil War, he visited a church in Washington, D.C. During the communion service he knelt beside a black man. An onlooker said to him later, “How could you do that?” Lee replied, “My friend, all ground is level beneath the cross.”
Extreme secularist – what does this even been? It is a binary condition, there are no degrees.
As for Christianity solving problems – evidence, please? It’s no accident that the highest standards of living in Europe are in secular states in the north, where levels of belief and church going are amongst the lowest on the planet.
Conversely, the most Christian states in USA also have the highest rates of teen pregnancy, illiteracy, abortion, executions, and a myriad of other social malaises.
Nominal Christianity is not real Christianity, because it is powerless. Some countries are Christian in name only. They have a name to live, but are dead.
No True Scotsman. What do you characterise as a True(TM) Christian country?
It also fails to address the fact that the most secular states enjoy the highest social standards. E.g. Norway or Sweden.
Why does your dads party ignore murder of innocent protestants by the uvf?
Kyle, I was glad to see your intervention in the saga of Islamaphobia in Northern Ireland.
Possibly you could delve into the history pre- and during our troubles here when Catholicaphobia was a popular sport for Christian fundamentalists and unionists. Come to think of it, the problem still exists, as in attacks and bad behaviour around and passing by churches.
I think that racial troubles everywhere , including troubles in the past as well as the present, go to show that when Gospel principles are forgotten, or people fail to apply them, then there is no telling what the consequences might be. Dostoyevsky said – ‘If there is no God then anything is permissable!’
“It wasn’t always like this”? Nostalgia is not what it used to be. Is this a valid comment in the context of the McMahon murders on 24 march 1922? Six Catholics were shot dead and two were wounded by members of the R.I.C. There was no I.R.A. activity in 1966 when the U.V.F. shot Peter Ward dead. Political unionism prior to 1968 had ample opportunity to demonstrate the impartial administration of justice and government based on equality and respect for all citizens. The rest is history. In the context of breaking down walls, (Ephesians 2;13,14) one has only to consider the number of security walls in Belfast in 2014 to reach the conclusion, it was always like this. The Legislative Assembly is being ridiculed throughout the world and rightly so. It is dysfunctional given its foundation of sectarianism and racism.
Much of what you say goes to show that when Gospel principles are forgotten, or people fail to apply them, then there is no telling what the consequences might be. Dostoyevsky said – ‘If there is no God then anything is permissable!’
A core value of political unionism between 1920 – 1969?
Kyle with your dad a man of god, why did he and peter robinson not condemn my dads murder by the scumbags in east belfast uvf?
Pip, please accept my apology for only replying now. I am sorry that you suffered such a tragic loss at the hands of violent men. I can assure you that Ian Paisley’s condemnation of violence was consistent over the years. That’s why, as well as being the target of republican terrorists, he was the target of loyalist terrorists. They hated him.
Kyle, what bible are you reading when you claim, “But the Bible
encourages an honourable unity and not division”? You must have a very
selective reading of the bible to think this – which is what the human mind
does when it has a vested interest in seeing it that way.
The bible is pretty equivocal at best when it comes to the
matter of values, especially those cited by the Deputy First Minister, “respect
tolerance and equality”. The bible’s ambivalence on many values issues has
enabled reputedly religious-minded administrations to justify ignoring them –
administrations including the one in this part of the island for the majority
of the last century.
Can you point me to the honourable unity, respect, tolerance and
equality in the following verses?
You may purchase male or female slaves from
among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of
such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You
may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a
permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of
Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46)
If a man comes upon a virgin in town, a girl who is engaged
to another man, and sleeps with her, take both of them to the town gate and
stone them until they die—the girl because she didn’t yell out for help in the
town and the man because he raped her, violating the fiancée of his neighbor.
You must purge the evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 22 v23-29)
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came
not to send peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34-39)
If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father
and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his
own life, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)
Do not be bound together with unbelievers;
for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has
light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has
a believer in common with an unbeliever? (2 Corinthians 6:14)
As for those agitators, I wish they would
go the whole way and castrate themselves! (Galatians 5:12)
Whosoever … hath any blemish, let him not
approach to offer the bread of his God. For whatsoever man he be that hath a
blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat
nose, or any thing superfluous, Or a man that is brokenfooted, or brokenhanded,
Or crookbackt, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or
scabbed, or hath his stones broken … He shall not go in unto the vail, nor come
nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my
sanctuaries. (Leviticus 21:17-23 KJV)
Now therefore, kill every male among the little
ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. But all the girls who
have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves. (Numbers 31:17-18)
Do you think we should be teaching children the value of slaughtering other
nations with the exception of any virgins, who we can keep for our own pleasure?
Word of god, or word of man? You decide.
If you protest that these verses don’t mean what they appear to mean at face value, how can we be sure any others mean what they appear to mean when they do support commendable values?