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What determines that there is a larger society, rather than merely a collection of competing groups and tribes? What determines the nature of the larger society? Is it possible to have a nation without having a larger society? That is, can one indeed have a nation without a consensus on shared values? To be specific, is multiculturalism a sufficient shared value that will create and sustain a larger culture, or is it a recipe for devolving into a collection of competing groups and tribes?

My favorite Anglican bishop, Michael Nazir-Ali, Pakistani by birth and rearing, moved to Britain due to threats on his life in Pakistan. As an outsider coming into British society, he sees things that those raised as insiders might miss. One of these things is the degree to which British society and the British nation were based on Christianity, and the dissolution of the larger society and nation as Christianity is abandoned for multiculturalism.

Here is his very thoughtful essay that has provoked some predictable response by the usual suspects.
Have you noticed that positive changes in the world often trace back to an individual, or a small group of individuals, who see a need and then respond courageously and compassionately? And, have you noticed that the most effective positive-change agents are almost always private, not governmental? And further, have you noticed that many, many, positive changes in the world have been the result of Christianity?

I would say the world does not need bigger government, but individuals with bigger hearts.

Here is the story of the founder of Save the Children, Eglantyne Jebb, from Brits at Their Best.
From The Telegraph, this story about Muslims prisoners gaining power in a British prison.

"Staff appear reluctant to challenge inappropriate behaviour, in particular among black and ethnic minority prisoners, for fear of doing the wrong thing," the report adds.

"This is leading to a general feeling of a lack of control and shifting the power dynamic towards prisoners."

Just under a third of the 500 prisoners at Whitemoor are Muslim.

And why would guards feel afraid of exercising adequate control over Muslim prisoners? The attitude of the report answers this question:

The concern about Muslim prisoners is in danger of leading to hostility and Islamophobia, the report warns.

I would say the insane political correctness of the bureaucrats is leading to increased hostility by the Islamic prisoners as they realize they can leverage fear of discrimination into power within the jail.

Bloody insane. Paging Richard the Lion Hearted, your people need you.

From The Telegraph, a UK paper full story here:

The Bishop of Rochester, the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, accused the Church of failing in its duty to "welcome people of other faiths" ahead of a motion at July's General Synod in York urging a strategy for evangelising Muslims.

However, his comments were condemned by senior figures within the Church. The Rt Rev Stephen Lowe, the former Bishop of Hulme and the newly appointed Bishop of Urban Life and Faith, said: "Both the Bishop of Rochester's reported comments and the synod private members' motion show no sensitivity to the need for good inter-faith relations. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs are learning to respect one another's paths to God and to live in harmony. This demand for the evangelisation of people of other faiths contributes nothing to our communities."

Bishop Nazir-Ali, born in Pakistan, is calling for the Anglican Church (Church of England) to evangelize Muslims in Britain. The Anglican establishment is accusing him of narrow-mindedness and lack of sensitivity. What would they have said to Jesus, when he told the eleven to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit?

A Christian communion that refuses proclaim that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and summon hearers to repentence and faith, is on its way out of Christendom. "Multiculturalism" and "tolerance" must bear distinctive meanings within the Church. As Christian citizens of pluralistic societies we tolerate other religions in the sense that we do not burn down their places of worship, imprison them for their beliefs, or discriminate in the workplace. But, "tolerance" for Christians must not imply that beliefs of other religions are also true in the way our faith is. Christians are multicultural in the sense of welcoming those of other cultures, and recognizing that believers can be Christians while being of another culture. But, respecting other cultures must not imply for Christians that all religious beliefs are equally valid.
George Bush has chosen Southern Methodist University, in the Dallas area, as the site of his presidential library. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth further south on I-35 when Baylor University learned it had lost the competition to host the library.

From the time that SMU began to compete for the library, some faculty, students, and assorted Methodists, begin a counter-campaign to oppose any link between George Bush and SMU.

While locating the library at SMU is probably a done deal, a group of diehard Methodists is still fighting to prevent it. Story here.

I am beginning to think that Bush hatred may be stronger than the Reagan hatred I remember from the 80s.
Monday, May 19, was the Feast Day of St. Dunstan. Among his accomplishments was a political practice that is part of our heritage of British Liberty.

From Brits at Their Best: full post

In AD 973 Dunstan created a coronation ceremony for Edgar that is still used today. The people affirmed their willingness to acclaim him King; and he in turn swore an Oath to the people. The Coronation Oath that Edgar swore embodied the practical ideals of justice -

“First, that the church of God and the whole Christian people shall have true peace at all time by our judgment; second, that I will forbid extortion and all kinds of wrong-doing to all orders of men; third, that I will enjoin equity and mercy in all judgments.”

In this ceremony the King commits himself by sacred oath to perform justice. By this fact of public oath, the monarch can, at least in principle, be held accountable for his conduct in office. Absolute Monarchy, in its widest sense, is thereby forbidden. The King himself must hold to an external standard other than his own will.

Thank you, Saint Dunstan.
The United Methodist Church is a very large and important body of Protestants, with churches scattered all across America. At their recent General Conference, a meeting of leaders that occurs every 4 years, some significant actions were taken. Links and quotations are from the official news site of the UMC.

On homosexuality:

Delegates to the 2008 General Conference on April 30 rejected changes to the United Methodist Social Principles that would have acknowledged that church members disagree on homosexuality.

Delegates instead adopted a minority report that retained language in the denomination’s 2004 Book of Discipline describing homosexual practice as “incompatible with Christian teaching.”

The adopted wording in Paragraph 161G also states that “all persons are individuals of sacred worth, created in the image of God,” and that United Methodists are to be “welcoming, forgiving and loving one another, as Christ has loved and accepted us.”

The rank-and-file made themselves heard on this issue. Notice that the floor adopted the minority report. Interestingly, the photo accompanying this story shows a picture of weeping delegates whose preference was defeated.

Divestment in Companies Doing Business with Israel:

United Methodists have rejected attempts to have the denomination endorse divestment from some companies that do business in Israel as a way of addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The actions occurred during General Conference, the church’s top legislative body, meeting April 23-May 2 at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

A number of petitions, including five from U.S. annual (regional) conferences, were folded into one petition on "divestment" that called on the denomination’s pension board and finance agency "to review and identify companies that profit from sales of products or services that cause harm to Palestinians and Israelis and begin phased selective divestment from these companies." That petition was rejected May 2 by General Conference delegates as they voted on a special consent calendar.

Support of the People of Tibet, Taiwan, and The Sudan:

United Methodists have officially affirmed support for “the people of Tibet and their struggle for independence and autonomy.”

A new resolution on Sudan called “Sudan: A Call to Compassion and Caring” was part of the consent calendar approved on April 29. It advocates for justice for all Sudanese, calls upon United Methodists “in every country” to encourage their governments to aid development of a more just economic system in the Sudan and asks church members to “examine all methods of protest and solidarity before undertaking them” to ensure that none of their actions cause violence.

Also approved by consent was a petition reaffirming the denomination’s support “of the democratic aspirations and achievements of the people of Taiwan." Church members are encouraged to become educated about contemporary issues related to Taiwan and the “One China” policy and promote the rights of Taiwanese “for stability, security and self-determination of its own status in the family of nations.”


The United Methodist Church will continue to “sit at the table” and retain its 35-year membership with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice.

In a May 2 vote of 416-384, the 2008 General Conference affirmed continued membership of the denomination’s Board of Church and Society and the Women’s Division of the Board of Global Ministries in the organization.

Notice how close was the vote: if 17 votes out of 800 had changed to pro-life, then the outcome would have differed. Perhaps as the liberal wing declines in numbers, and the conservative wing grows, we can anticipate a different outcome in four years.

For other news articles see here.
I have written often concerning Religion and Public Policy. At greatest length in a series here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four

If the topic of Religion and Public Policy, or, how Religion can operate in the American political process, interests you, then I recommend this article from the most recent Princeton Seminary Bulletin by John R. Bowlin, the Professor of Reformed Theology and Public Life at the Seminary.

His most provocative thesis is this: our nation has had, and will have again a religious establishment. Following Thomas Aquinas, he asserts that human beings naturally link politics and religion into a self-supporting whole--religion supports the order of rule and vice versa whithin a public piety. Our nation, historically, has had unofficial religious establishment(s). Our last one was the Cold War linkage of mainline Protestantism with true Americanism that came apart in the late 20th century. We now are in what he regards as a temporary period between religious establishments. The question: what will the next religious establishment be? He doubts it will be some variety of Christianity.

For myself, some claim that our current multiculturalism/ religious&moral relativism supported with postmodernist philosophy and expressed in an ironic ethos is itself a religious establishment. One certainly can define "religion" broadly enough to encompass this milieu. But it would not surprise me to see a more explicitly religious establishment arise. And it would not surprise me if it were post-Christian.