In a reception at Buckingham Palace last Friday evening, King Charles assured assembled faith leaders from various religions that he would work to protect the space for faith
Waxing lyrical, he continued that it was his duty “to protect the diversity of our country, including by protecting the space for faith itself and its practice through the religions, cultures, traditions and beliefs to which our hearts and minds direct us as individuals.” He went on to say that, as a member of the Church of England, his personal beliefs had love at their very heart, so that he was committed to respect those who follow other spiritual paths, as well as those who seek to live their lives in accordance with secular ideals.
Interesting. At her coronation in 1953, Queen Elizabeth, as head of the Anglican Church, swore to do her utmost to maintain the laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel, doing all in her power to maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion. She further swore to maintain and preserve the settlement of the Church of England, and its doctrine, worship, discipline and government, as established by English law (https://www.royal.uk/coronation-oath-2-june-1953).
This oath, taken by the sovereign, was laid down by statute in 1688. Since that time there have been occasional attempts to amend it, but the legality of such amendments remains questionable (https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/ecclesiastical-law-journal/article/coronation-oath/F83079759125218B8D97BA1722954CBC). Are we to infer, however, that Charles is now proposing a radical rewording of the Oath that will fundamentally undermine our constitution?
Our new King is undeniably well-meaning and, according to his lights, attempting to continue the tradition of faithful service to the nation so well exemplified by his mother. We both applaud and support him in his commitment. But, in this area at least, his approach appears to be misconceived. The UK remains essentially a Christian country. Our laws and culture are founded on Christian values and belief – which values have rightly made us the envy of the world. In the national interest, they must be upheld.
Today our society is undeniably diverse, playing host to a variety of different beliefs and cultures, some of which sit uneasily alongside each other. Witness, for example, the current violent unrest between Hindus and Muslims in Leicester, that erupted following a cricket match (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-62946146 ). Given our now ethnically diverse population, such cultural conflict is perhaps a reality that, in the years to come, we may well see increase, and that will undoubtedly pose something of a challenge if we are to maintain peace, while helping people live in genuine tolerance and harmony. But saying that all beliefs are of equal value is not the answer.
Yes, as Christians we need to respect and love others – but that does not mean that we should unquestioningly accept their beliefs as of equal validity to those which, for around 1,500 years, have provided the foundation for our nation. Charles should understand that, as a Christian country, we need to accept and acknowledge Christ alone as the Way, the Truth and the Life. As such, we value and respect the beliefs of others, but we do not accept them as of equal standing and value. We do not all worship the same God.
We applaud our new King’s efforts to unify the nation, and we unreservedly support him in this, but we call upon him to reaffirm our nation’s commitment to Christian values and belief. Under Christ alone, who calls us to love and respect all equally, will our nation prosper, and only in allegiance to Him will we demonstrate and achieve genuine tolerance. Let us not compromise our fundamental and foundational beliefs out of failure to appreciate and acknowledge the differences between different religions – or indeed between religion and secularism – and for fear of offending those who pursue a different, and inconsistent agenda.
In recent years, Christianity has become the most persecuted faith on the planet. From Afghanistan to North Korea, to India and Iran, to Somalia, Egypt, Pakistan, China … the list seems endless, but in all these countries Christians now face discrimination, injustice, intimidation, mistreatment, abuse, violence, ethnic cleansing and even genocide. In truth, Christians receive neither tolerance nor respect from other faiths. So let us not delude ourselves that we shall achieve a peaceful and harmonious society by sacrificing our Christian heritage and belief to what are essentially woke ideas of inclusivity.
We call upon our new King to uphold the faith courageously, valuing others, but without the misapprehension that they share a similar commitment to that love, tolerance and respect that is genuinely the heart of Christianity.
This article, by Lynda, first appeared in Christian Today and is reproduced with permission.