Remembering both the Christian story, and the civilisations it launched

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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Two important Christmas messages have emphasised the centrality of Christianity to Britain, Europe and the Middle East.

David Cameron has again referred to the United Kingdom as a Christian country.

The former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey has said that the Christmas story is a reminder of Christianity’s origins in the Middle East, and its possible extinction there.

Such talk is overdue after years in which political and church leaders have been at pains to demonstrate neutrality between cultures and faiths. That approach has not worked.

As any fair minded person will agree, London is one of the most vibrant cities on earth partly because it is so diverse and yet it mostly manages to remain harmonious. But a doctrinaire multi-culturalism is quite another matter – the sort of philosophy that insists that there is no dominant culture in the UK, that every position and creed has equal validity, that violent, fanatical Islamism is no better or worse than Quakerism, that you can live in Britain but have no loyalty to it.

After the Paris attacks and the fact that thousands of Jihadists from nations such as Britain and France have fought overseas, attitudes are rightly hardening. Even millions of Britons who have no religious belief can see the historic role of Christianity in every aspect of the building of Britain, from its laws and freedoms and achievements to its culture and values.

As Dr Carey says, we of all nations need to be much more alert to the possible annihilation of the now small remaining Christian communities in countries such as Iraq and Syria.

It is also fair to wonder, as he does, why the UK, as the Christian country that Mr Cameron says it is, has been unable to specify that this particularly vulnerable Middle Eastern minority group cannot get a specific refugee status from us.

On this Christmas Eve, at the end of a year in which barbarism has been evident, it is time to remember both the story at the heart of the festive season and the great European civilisations it ushered in, of which we are fortunate to be a part.