So Donald Trump is sworn in as President of the US, and immediately a row erupts with the press over disputed figures for attendance at the inauguration. How either side can arrive at precise figures remains something of a mystery, but whatever the truth, one feels Trump would have been far wiser to let the matter pass. He alleges, of course, that the press are complicit in an orchestrated campaign to de-legitimise his presidency, but whether true or not this kind of response is lacking in gravitas and can only play into the hands of those who want to see him gone.
However, though ill-judged, Trump’s anger is surely understandable, because from the moment he won the Republican nomination the press have been unremitting in presenting him as a deranged and narcissistic misogynist – a joke, whom everyone hates. While equally, since he won, those who were misguided enough to vote for him – as also, let it be said, with Brexit – are dismissed as moronic meatheads without two brain cells to rub together; who clearly for the future ought to be prevented from voting.
At one level this is class war, but the religious right and traditionalists are also of course included in this generalised condemnation – so memorably articulated by Madonna, who apparently expressed a desire to blow up the White House, now Trump is in it www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-38716714. Nice!
If evidence were needed of ideological war raging in the West, this is surely it.
The sad fact is that anyone who disagrees with the populist Weltanschauung is cast as either intellectually subnormal, with a probable IQ in the region of 75, or as a bigot who must be silenced. And increasingly – perhaps inevitably – before this relentless vilification and pressure, those who do not share this worldview are being cowed into submission. As seen, for example, in the new proposal by Anglican bishops to waive the requirement for gay clergy to be celibate http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/church-to-draw-veil-over-sex-lives-of-gayclergy-g9hgnwqxz
Approve or not, the Bible is absolutely clear that marriage is between one man and one woman for life, and that all sexual relations outside marriage are prohibited. Which includes, of course, adultery, fornication, promiscuity, incest … as well as that over-hyped hot potato, homosexuality. To put it another way, this is a core doctrine that has to do with the nature of our humanity – of our creation – and that defines our relationship with God. It is not therefore negotiable, and those in leadership in the Church should refuse to be intimidated and should continue to uphold the Bible. As written. Not out of a spirit of condemnation for those who fall short of the ideal, but from a spirit of love that refuses to let the sinner go and strives always to help.
Redefining faith and airbrushing out the ‘difficult’ bits so as to win acceptance helps no one. Equally, trying to coerce and intimidate others into approving lifestyles in conflict with their faith can at best be only a pyrrhic victory, because it is reliant on silencing dissent. Advocates of the new Weltanschauung may not be happy until they have rewritten and neutralized the doctrines they find hard – and who knows, they may succeed – but the cost will be the annihilation of freedom, and devastation of truth.
What opponents of both Donald Trump and Brexit need to realize is that many of the men and women who cast their vote were not voting for a reality TV star who wants to build a wall or mindless hatred of Europe, but were and are just heartily sick of the growing totalitarianism that is seeking, among other things, to drive Christian belief and values from the public arena. We are all entitled to have opinions. British society is founded on freedom of conscience and belief, and respect for all – values that in themselves derive from Christianity. Whatever position is taken, therefore, all must be respected and allowed the freedom to speak. Without intimidation, and without coercion.