Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Religious Freedom, Here and There

Here's a big event coming up in London, hosted by the Friends of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

The title of Charles Moore's talk comes from the poem by Sir Cecil Spring-Rice. Gustav Holst adapted the music from the "Jupiter" section of The Planets:

I vow to thee, my country—all earthly things above—
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago—
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

Obviously, the poem and the patriotic hymn (as sung at Princess Diana's funeral) hold loyalty to two kingdoms in balance. There's love of the earthly country, patriotism and sacrifice for England, but ultimately, the greater loyalty has to be to Heaven and Heaven's King, God the Father.

According to the website for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham:

Charles Moore, the former editor of The Daily Telegraph, whose authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher has recently been published, is to give a talk on the future of Christianity in Britain at an event in London being organised by the Friends of the Ordinariate. The event will take place in the Little Oratory, Brompton Road, London, on Tuesday 13 June 2013. It will begin with Solemn Evensong & Benediction, celebrated by Mgr Newton and the renowned Oratory choir at 6pm. For more information, visit the website of the Friends of the Ordinariate, www.friendsoftheordinariate.org.uk. Tickets £10 on the door. All welcome.

I'm sure that freedom of religion in England, including the freedom of Christians to practice their faith even when it contradicts the secular government's positions, will be part of the discussion. R.R. Reno, editor of First Things, surveys the current situation of religious freedom in the United States in this month's Imprimis from Hillsdale College:

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY is being redefined in America, or at least many would like it to be. Our secular establishment wants to reduce the autonomy of religious institutions and limit the influence of faith in the public square. The reason is not hard to grasp. In America, “religion” largely means Christianity, and today our secular culture views orthodox Christian churches as troublesome, retrograde, and reactionary forces. They’re seen as anti-science, anti-gay, and anti-women—which is to say anti-progress as the Left defines progress. Not surprisingly, then, the Left believes society will be best served if Christians are limited in their influence on public life. And in the short run this view is likely to succeed. There will be many arguments urging Christians to keep their religion strictly religious rather than “political.” And there won’t just be arguments; there will be laws as well. We’re in the midst of climate change—one that’s getting colder and colder toward religion. . . .

Read the rest here, including the conclusion:

In conclusion, I want to focus not on fury but on the remarkable capacity for communities of faith to endure. My wife’s ancestors lived for generations in the contested borderlands of Poland and Russia. As Jews they were tremendously vulnerable, and yet through their children and their children’s children they endured in spite of discrimination, violence, and attempted genocide. Where now, I ask, are the Russian and Polish aristocrats who dominated them for centuries? Where now is the Thousand Year Reich? Where now is the Soviet worker’s paradise? They have gone to dust. The Torah is still read in the synagogue.

The same holds for Christianity. The Church did not need constitutional protections in order to take root in a hostile pagan culture two thousand years ago.