26 October 2014

Christian Schools in Britain, Social Crisis and the Larger Issues at Stake

There are stories beginning to circulate in Christian circles of a private Christian school in the United Kingdom which is risking the loss of what we would call accreditation due to a lack of diversity with regard to religious instruction.

Not a few countries have some sort of religious education requirement. In the past for the British this would have been more or less controlled by the Established Church. Today it's more a venue for the introduction of diversity. I've listened to quite a few BBC programmes arguing the merits and demerits of this type of education.

Many believe it to be critical due to the ever-present and dangerous social tension existing within their society. The education is geared toward teaching the students the basics of other religions and helping them to understand the mindset of the people they will be living and working with as they enter adult life.

Europe is in a race, a doomed and failing race. I'm not speaking of Islamic demographic conquest. I'm speaking of the inevitable violence and chaos that will erupt in order to stop it. The social system depends on a pool of workers paying tax to support government services and pensions. We have the same basic operation in the United States but not quite on the same scale as what we find in Europe.

By now most people know the Europeans are struggling with this system. They have succeeded in raising the standard of living for many, but as people begin to climb, they want to climb a bit higher. Consequently each generation has fewer children realizing this is the key economic factor that will hinder them from enjoying the higher standard of living they desire.

In addition I may add that with England in particular I am confident that many are convinced their country (at least) is basically overpopulated. While many on the American Right scoff at such a notion it cannot be wholly dismissed. The population density in England is pretty shocking to someone coming from the United States. There's simply a limited amount of room and you really 'feel' the difference when it comes to living space. They are equally shocked when they visit here and the amount of room we have in terms of personal space and the 'wide open' spaces we have between our cities etc...

To solve this growing demographic and economic problem Britain and most European countries have been forced to resort to immigration. Immigrants generate income and pay taxes and they increasingly fill jobs at the lower end of society which your average Englishman doesn't really want to do anymore.

The massive influx of immigrants (which ironically are for the most part citizens of their former empire) has dramatically changed the society. Many English feel that their country and culture is slipping away from them. Again, I can't help but note the irony of this when one considers what the British, French and others did the nations they colonized and their respective cultures. They forever changed their societies and now it's as if they're returning the favour.

That said, how does the society deal with the tension?

It's been present for several decades now. Either the immigrants have to integrate or there's going to be trouble.

They could assimilate and become English but many immigrants will tell you that not only is that undesirable but it's virtually impossible. They simply face a growing discrimination and rejection by much of English and even the larger British society.

Integration suggests a changed society. They 'fit in' but don't fully become British. You create a new hybridized society and culture. The very definition of what it means to be British has and will change.

This is the part that a growing number of British and Europeans don't like. Their governments are doing everything they can to promote integration even to the detriment of their native born citizens.  

Why? Because in the case of Britain and France and even Germany with their largely Turkish immigrant pool, they are afraid of Islamic radicalization. If the younger generations can't find work and face discrimination they are very susceptible to being radicalized. And then everything falls apart, the economic model and society itself.

And yet to get these immigrants to integrate the government has to all but favour them and quite literally force segments of society to embrace the diversity.

This is creating a backlash. As the integration fails, and it is failing, the youth are being radicalized. As the mainstream and native-born society feels coerced and manipulated they are rejecting the government line and turning to Right-wing politics, nationalism and the consequent of racism.

All across Europe the Right is on the rise and in some cases the rhetoric is eerie and ominous. We're not quite there but it is reminiscent of the 1930's and before it's all done I fear there will be blood in the streets. The forecast for Europe is one of stormy weather.

The UK government is so desperate to win this integration battle they have created a government culture that to many citizens is viewed as treasonous. They are ignoring sex crimes and exploitation if the perpetrators are Pakistani or some other Muslim group. They don't want to be perceived as racially targeting these segments of society. This recently exploded into a huge scandal which is shaking the foundations of their social order.

Now with regard to this Christian school I'm afraid this is but another chapter in the same story. The government is very afraid of radicalized subcultures. They don't want to see it in the Muslim community but are reticent to 'push' too hard in that quarter. The more they provoke, the more radicalization will occur.

But in terms of the native-born population they feel much bolder in insisting that subcultures cannot and must not form which reject the overall agenda. They're terrified that Christian-Nationalist groups will take up arms. Already there are a growing number of vigilante-type groups stirring the pot. This grieves me that Nationalism and Christianity are once again wedded. To be British is to be Christian. The history with all of its propaganda and myths is championed and the narrative takes over and is integrated with the theology.

Some Christian bloggers are writing that the government is insisting on 'Islamist' speakers at school assemblies. That's misleading. The term Islamist has the connotation of a political and violent radical. That's not at all what they are insisting on. They want Muslim figures who will promote integration and present Islam as a peaceful element that can indeed fit within the larger society. They're looking for voices of moderation. I realize this in many cases will fall on deaf ears. To many Christians there's no such thing as a moderate Muslim. Those that appear to be are simply hiding their true nature. The truth is most Muslims are not extremist in the least. Most are in fact pretty secularized but any people can become radicalized if the conditions are right.

All that said, the government is of course completely out of line and has intruded into the confines of a private institution. The UK doesn't have a First Amendment but they do have a long tradition of free speech and certainly since 1689 a tradition of religious freedom and toleration. The government is trying to enforce not only a social toleration (which we as Christians should support) but also a doctrinal toleration which of course we must reject.

Constantinian and Dominionist frames of mind cannot accept such a bifurcation. The social and theological are necessarily united. To divorce them, which I argue is absolutely necessary for the Church to be in the world and not of it, for the Kingdom to be not of this world and to maintain an antithesis is to them wholly anathema.

In terms of practical Christianity this divergence and the gulf it creates cannot be any wider. This is at the essence of what the Kingdom is and how we are to live in This Age.

Thankfully many of the Christians in the UK have long abandoned the quest for social credibility and accreditation when it comes to their seminaries and Bible schools. This is an ongoing debate in American Christian culture.

But in terms of primary and secondary schools... what we call elementary and high school, that's a different situation due to compulsory educational requirements. The state claims a vested interest and this is one of those points where we have legal and social conflict. Which 'right' takes precedent, the right of the state to maintain the social order or the right of the individual to belief?

Obviously we always side with religious freedom and there are times when the state is going to reject our claim. It's nothing new. The question is, how do we respond?

It may be that Christian schools aren't an option in the UK. It may be that homeschooling is the way to go, even though for many British this is an unpalatable option.

In this case, social conformity bred by wrong doctrinal thinking won't allow for the average British Christian to embrace the antithesis they so desperately need. Instead the response will likely continue to be political which is the worse way to respond, both in terms of the Kingdom and ultimately for the peace of the British Christian community.

This is the fruit of the Church abandoning its rightful status as Second-Class citizenry. Only then can the antithesis be maintained. Nonconformity in the UK was all but shut-out from the larger society in the 1700's and through a good bit of the 19th century as well. After the Glorious Revolution the Puritan political project was dead. Non-conformity was tolerated but you weren't going to be a key 'player' in the society. This Second Class status was accepted and the Church moved on with its business. I would argue it was a fruitful and healthy time.

But then the barriers were lowered and during the British Empire many Non-conformists began to 'sign on' with the larger social project and outlook. And then of course with the World Wars the society was unified in a way it had not been before. Nonconformity now felt invested in the larger society. It had infected itself with a cancer. They were part of the project and this was especially so after the tremendous liberal reforms brought about Lloyd-George.

They forgot that they were supposed to be Anti-Establishment. I don't mean that in only the Ecclesiastical sense. Yes, they would rightly like to see the Church of England disestablished. But I'm speaking in larger social terms. We're supposed to be Anti-Establishment in the sense that we're not part of the social power structure. We reject their claims, narrative and vision. We don't join with them in the project. We live among them and speak prophetically. We witness to the truth.

British Nonconformity largely forgot this and fell into a trap. This changed their mindset and for many of them has hindered them in the ability to think counter-culturally. For many of them the idea of homeschooling is simply anti-social and out of bounds.

We're supposed to be anti-social and always out of bounds. We're Second Class Citizens by nature.

If this is expressed politically we will feel the wrath of the state. If we eschew all political aspirations then the state while permanently irritated with us will in most cases leave us alone. Subcultures aren't as dangerous if they're leading quiet lives and minding their own business. If they're plotting revolution and brewing trouble then the state will intervene. In the case of Germany they are so fearful of their own history they are keen to enforce social uniformity and ironically falling back into their own historical traps.

Politicized homeschooling will be frowned on. And though many have misunderstood homeschooling and some view it as surrender and cultural retreat, it is not always so, in fact rarely is. Not a few American homeschoolers have a specific political agenda in what they are doing. Perhaps the best and most obvious example of this is what we see with the organization known as HSLDA and an institution like Patrick Henry College. These organizations promote homeschooling but with a specific political purpose.  They are precisely the subcultures the UK ultimately fears.

That's the price of democracy. The UK is in a suicidal dilemma. If it allows true democracy there will be social violence. They are on the brink of experiencing the type of social polarity seen in unstable Middle Eastern countries.

So to maintain order (the British fear chaos more than anything else), they are sacrificing popular will and hoping desperately they can iron out the problems before it's too late. The kettle is starting to whistle and they are trying to deal with it by turning the heat down. It's not working and ultimately it's going to blow up in their face.

The sad part to me is that right at this point in time the American Right is flooding Britain with propaganda and aid. Lawyers associated with the Christian Right as well political planners and grass roots organizers are busy in Britain and elsewhere trying to push their Christian segments into a more 'Christian Right' mindset that we're familiar with in the United States. It's a titanic shift as most nonconformists have historically been on the Left.  

But there's evidence to suggest that in some respects it's working. Dominionist theology takes many forms but ultimately if the British Church re-embraces the larger paradigm it will lead to trouble. Right now it's leading to a growing support for BNP and UKIP. Where all that will go is hard to say, but I don't have very good feelings about it.

At a moment when the Church should really be sitting down and rethinking their notions of the Christian social order, they are instead getting whipped up and turning to lawsuits and politics. The UK government isn't helping is it? These sorts of intrusions will only fan the flames.

It's a mess, a conundrum that doesn't present an easy solution. I don't have any hope for Britain. It's simply reaping the harvest of centuries of theft and murder and the lies it has told itself. I pray the Church in the UK wakes up and begins to reassess everything before they are dragged down a dark road. The Protestant examples in Italy and France might prove a better model. They are small vibrant communities and yet largely non-political. The same is true with the many Brethren churches scattered throughout the Continent. This is the model to follow.

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