You don’t need to be a fan of the vintage British political sitcom Yes Minister to understand how government reviews are instruments of inertia, damage control, public relations, virtue signaling, obfuscation and a surrogate for action. As the smooth-tongued civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby from Yes Minister puts it: “The job of a professionally conducted internal inquiry is to unearth a great mass of no evidence.”
On Boxing Day, Britain’s Conservative in Name Only (CINO) government in cozy chumminess with the Church of England gave the nation a gift. The day was most certainly chosen for its significance: in British tradition postmen, errand boys, servants and the hoi polloi expect to receive a gift box from the high and mighty.
So as his Boxing Day 2018 gift, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP announced a review into the global persecution of Christians, which would be led by Philip Mounstephen, Anglican Bishop of Truro. The heralding of this great news of glad tidings was peppered with the standard British bureaucratic blather.
The Foreign Office said its independent review would consider “tough questions and offer ambitious policy recommendations.” It would provide “an objective view of Britain’s support for the most vulnerable Christians globally,” trumpeted Lord Tariq Ahmad, Britain’s special envoy on freedom of religion.
It looked like a docile beach donkey from C. S. Lewis’ Narnia had morphed into Rudyard Kipling’s Lion King. The media munchkins gobbled it down for brunch.
Britain has done little to help persecuted Christians since the 17th century, when it gave refuge to French Huguenots fleeing the terror unleashed by the Edict of Fontainebleau. The British saw this as a juicy opportunity to cock a snook at King Louis XIV, their frog-eating foe.
The present CINO regime under PM Theresa May has not only refused to rescue Christians, but has actively stepped up its Leftwing, anti-Christian foghorning.
In the first quarter of 2018, Britain refused to give asylum to a single Syrian Christian, but let in 1,112 Syrian Muslims. More shamefully, the Home Office refused to release this data until Barnabas Fund took the extreme step of obtaining an order from the Information Commissioner threatening the Home Office with contempt of court proceedings. Even then, the figures were only released kicking and screaming just before the deadline, when the charity demanded that the immigration minister personally order their disclosure.
Just before Christmas, Frontpage Mag reported how Prime Minister Theresa May and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby had washed their hands of persecuted Christian mother Asia Bibi, who has spent eight years on Pakistan’s death row on trumped-up charges of blasphemy.
“Were you disappointed and saddened that Britain didn’t offer her asylum?” BBC pundit Andrew Marr asked Welby. “A lot goes on behind the scenes that we don’t know about,” spluttered Welby. “I know there is great deal of work being done and we need to stop talking about her and listen to her—what does she want, where does she want to go; I hope that our government and other governments will make it possible either for her to come here if that’s what she wants (Welby’s emphasis) . . . or for her to go somewhere else if that’s what she prefers,” said the weasel-worded Welby, worming his way out of the accusation of doing nothing.
Is la-di-dah Leftist Welby so ginormously delusional that he believes a woman being hunted by Muslim mobs and refused asylum by a lineup of Western countries has a choice? This isn’t the FBI asking Don Corleone to choose between Lichtenstein and Luxembourg in their Witness Protection Program if he testifies against the Mafia!
In a Kafkaesque twist, radical cleric Hassan Haseeb, who led the pro-blasphemy law demonstrations in Pakistan and called for the execution of Asia Bibi, was a key speaker at an anti-terrorism conference in Manchester, in July 2018, even though the government was warned about him in 2016.
Britain’s lower rung of deplorables and the alt-media had heard enough of this sophistry and by Christmas were giving our snootocracy two kicks up the kidney for its reprehensible treatment of Asia Bibi. Announcing an independent review is one way to stop your privileged upper-class ass from getting whupped.
“Fie such cynicism!” I hear my reader say. Surely the government has the best intentions of Christians at heart? “God save us from people who mean well,” retorts Vikram Seth in A Suitable Boy. Especially when their actions don’t follow their intentions and independent reviews.
Remember how the Church of England rebuffed the review into the George Bell scandal? Bishop Bell, who stood against Hitler and supported Bonhoeffer, was exonerated by an independent review of molesting a child. Instead of apologizing for slandering the bishop’s impeccable reputation, Welby gave a bum salute to the Lord Carlile review and refused to rescind his statement that Bishop Bell still had a “significant cloud” over his name.
In the Yes Minister episode “The Hospital without Patients,” Minister Jim Hacker asks Sir Humphrey if he can “get an independent inquiry to find no evidence.” “Minister, in an independent inquiry everything depends on who the chairman is. He absolutely has to be sound,” quips Humphrey. In civil service lingo, someone who is “sound” is a safe pair of hands who will not rock the canoe.
That’s another reason to be cynical about the review. The effete duo heading it has “Church-State Damage Control SWAT team” stamped on their foreheads. Worse, the Foreign Secretary is as effective as an umbrella in a gale. “He has quite the history of gaffes, quirks and snafus,” notes the Guardian.
Jeremy Hunt, who’s net worth is around £14 million, ballsed up big-time on a state visit to Japan, when he referred to his Chinese wife as “Japanese.” Hunt accidentally pulled the emergency stop cord in a train bathroom; posed for a photo in front of a whiteboard of confidential patient records, which he then tweeted; and almost decapitated a woman when ringing a bell.
When he was Health Secretary, Channel 4 presented him with a giant, gold penis for being “Dick of the Year” and doctors gave him an eight-foot mockup of a “Statistics for Dummies.” A pro-European Remainer who transitioned into a Brexiteer, Hunt is angling to become the next resident of 10 Downing Street.
Bizarrely, in 2017, the same Foreign Office produced the Wilton Park report insisting that evangelical Christians in the Global South should be expected to ‘reinterpret’ the Bible to make it compatible with LGBT ideology.
Bishop Philip Mounstephen, who will lead the review, is said to be as limp as lettuce. A former low-impact director of Church Mission Society, the media are breathlessly reporting his recent appointment with the sensational headline: “Former teacher appointed as Bishop of Truro.” Mounstephen is as controversial as white paint on a picket fence (otherwise he wouldn’t be given his managerial mitre in Welby’s politburo).
Neither Hunt not Mounstephen have wheezed a word demanding that Britain open its doors to Asia Bibi, the world’s best-known persecuted Christian, but have the warped audacity to grandstand on behalf of persecuted Christians.
One person who could have lent authenticity to the review is Baroness Caroline Cox. A member of the House of Lords, Cox has spent decades campaigning for persecuted Christians—even daring to visit North Korea—the worst country on earth for human rights abuses against Christians.
In July 2017, she introduced a bill to prevent women from Shariah-sanctioned discrimination. She was president of Christian Solidarity Worldwide and became patron of Barnabas Fund in 2016. But Cox has savaged cultural Marxism with her book The Rape of Reason and her review might call the government and Church of England to account and miraculously result in action!
Cox might even draw attention to the persecution of Christians in Britain. We can’t have that, can we? Because when the review is published and heads are patted, the state-approved hostility against orthodox and evangelical Christians in Britain will continue as if nothing ever happened.
There are enough cases to merit publishing a Dictionary of Christian Persecution in the United Kingdom. My favorite is the arrest of street preachers Overd and Stockwell. At trial, the public prosecutor Ian Jackson said that publicly quoting parts of the King James Bible in modern Britain should “be considered to be abusive and is a criminal matter.”
Britain’s highest-ranking legal eagles, the Lord Chancellor and Lord Chief Justice, removed Christian magistrate Richard Page from office in 2016 for saying that it was in a child’s best interests to be raised by a mother and a father. It could soon be illegal for Christians to pray for a homosexual who wants to be heterosexual; the Church of England General Synod has virtually banned “conversion therapy” and is pushing the government to make it a criminal offense.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams downplayed this oppression by saying that Christians in Britain who claim they are persecuted should “grow up” and not exaggerate what amounts to feeling “mildly uncomfortable.”
The radical leftist archbishop should tell this to father-of-six Nissar Hussain, who was nearly beaten to death by Muslims, after being persecuted for years in Bradford. Hussain converted from Islam to Christianity. Neither the police nor Anglican bishops lifted a finger to help him, Hussain said. He also said he wasn’t the only convert from Islam facing violent persecution in 21st century Britain.
Williams should know that the dictionary definition of persecution is “hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of race or political or religious beliefs” and is not limited to violence.
Critics might contend that such persecution is on an individual level and not state-sponsored. Really? In 2017, following the arrest of a street preacher, Lord Pearson asked the government in the House of Lords: “My Lords, will the Government therefore confirm unequivocally that a Christian who says that Jesus is the only Son of the one true God cannot be arrested for hate crime or any other offense, however much it may offend a Muslim or anyone of any other religion?” The government whip refused to comment.
Barnabas Fund then ran a campaign seeking a new Act of Parliament in the UK to guarantee seven fundamental aspects of freedom of religion. It demonstrated how these freedoms are under grave threat: freedom to read the Bible in public, freedom to interpret Scripture without government interference, freedom of worship, freedom to choose or change your religion, freedom to preach and try to convince others of the truth of your beliefs, freedom to establish churches, synagogues, etc., and freedom from being required to affirm a particular worldview or set of beliefs in order to hold a public sector job or stand for election, work in professions such as teaching and law, or study at university.
Not a single serving Church of England bishop, including the archbishops of Canterbury and York, was willing to support the campaign.
Biologically, there’s no such thing as being half-pregnant or somewhat pregnant. Politically, in the Byzantine circumlocution of British church-state doublespeak, a half-pregnancy isn’t just possible—it’s inevitable. Britain’s Foreign Office review into persecuted Christians is a half-pregnant woman.
The Rev’d Dr Jules Gomes