Westminster Declaration of Christian Conscience..??


I’m hoping those subtly placed question marks at the end of the above title have piqued your interest, and implied that this post is NOT yet another ‘nag’ to put your name to this declaration. As a Facebook-er, I’ve had many such nags recently, so have endeavored to undertake an investigation, albeit brief.

In case you’re not one to wile the hours away on Facebook and/or not a Church-goer… this declaration is based on a similar one in the States. Christians are being urged to sign it, with the intent of informing the political candidates in question of our beliefs… and urging them to respect/protect them.

The first few paragraphs are entitled: Our beliefs and Values… Human Life… Marriage.
At face value, these are fairly straightforward. ‘Liberal’ (not Lib Dem) Christians could spend many an hour dissecting them, extracting the ‘conservative’ ness out and proposing alternative suggestions… and although I’m tempted, I feel my time could be used more wisely. Here’s one example of such views (Ekklesia) and while I can’t say I’m unwaveringly behind all he says, I do concur with the gist of the piece.

But it’s more the last two paragraphs of the declaration that disturb me:

Conscience
We count it a special privilege to live in a democratic society where all citizens have the right to participate in the political process. We pledge to do what we can to ensure our laws are just and fair, particularly in protecting vulnerable people. We will seek to ensure that religious liberty and freedom of conscience are unequivocally protected against interference by the state and other threats, not only to individuals but also to institutions including families, charities, schools and religious communities. We will not be intimidated by any cultural or political power into silence or acquiescence and we will reject measures that seek to overrule our Christian consciences or to restrict our freedoms to express Christian beliefs, or to worship and obey God.

Commitment
We call upon all those in UK positions of leadership, responsibility and influence to pledge to respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold these beliefs and to act according to Christian conscience.

(words in bold is my doing)

We live in a Post-Christendom era. While it’s fantastic for us to get together with other Christians from a plethora of denominations and state our beliefs… the minute we attempt to enforce those beliefs on others, or demand that we have any sort of ‘rights’, we’re stepping outside of what our faith actually holds dear. Stuart Murray, in his superb book on this topic, suggests we ought to advocate equality for other faith communities… and advocate abolition, not extension, of Christendom vestiges. He states this is more feasible and ‘Christian’ than the restoration of a Christian State.

Granted, the declaration isn’t demanding Constantine to make a come-back… but its rhetoric is leaning in that direction, and for that reason I will not be signing it, and I’d invite you to consider doing likewise. We’re called to ‘be Church’ – to live in such a way as to be a witness for Christ. To be an example. To love and care for the oppressed. To share the Good News with those around us. But to demand/claim/expect any special treatment in the UK or anywhere else in the world?
No.

These are my very initial thoughts on this topic though, so please come back at me with your thoughts on this one.