Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

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Thursday, November 09, 2006
Washed in the blood of the Lamb. The BBC reports:
A Christian lobby group says the wearing of red poppies is "politically correct" and stifles debate.

The director of Ekklesia, Jonathan Bartley, says people should be able to choose between red or white ones.

He told the BBC: "The red poppy suggests the idea that our soldiers died for freedom but that's not a value-free position."

"Not a value-free position." When I heard that the director of a Christian lobby group had said that, I was taken aback. "Take up thy cross and follow me" is not an invitation to take up a value-free position.

Having read Ekklesia's statement it now seems to me that the value-free bit was stunningly inept phrasing rather than what it first sounded like. I can go with "If you believe that those who serve in the armed forces are defending freedom, then freedom to consider alternative perspectives is surely part of what you stand for". Fine, sure, apple pie. I can also go with a consistent opposition to having any specific political position smuggled into Christianity. Or vice versa.

Such consistent opposition is not what Ekklesia offers. If you had signed up for the Ekklesia news feed for the 8th November the three stories you would have got are "New style Sandinistas regain power in hopeful Nicaragua", "Bush panics as US religious right fails to stem Democrat tide" and "Church support for report condemning Government policy in Nicaragua." The Ekklesia website is full of deeply political statements such as "the language and imagery about ‘fighting for freedom’ and ‘the glorious dead’ which often accompanies war remembrance reinforces a belief that violence is redemptive."

The red poppy has never claimed to be a Christian symbol. Many Christians wear it proudly, but it is also worn by people of all faiths and none to honour the dead of all faiths and none. The facts that we have Remembrance Day services in Britain that are primarily Christian (other faiths do also hold them) and that our prime means of commemorating the dead is a Christian service is in a sense accidental; a result of our history and culture. No one thinks for a moment that all those laying wreaths or observing the silence are necessarily Christian.

What they overwhelmingly do believe is the part Ekklesia don't like: that the glorious dead died for freedom.