On Thursday March 23rd, the day following the appalling terrorist attack in Westminster, a Conservative MP asked Theresa May in the House of Commons, “Does the Prime Minister agree that what happened was not Islamic, just as the murder of Airey Neave was not Christian, and that both were perversions of religion”.
Mrs May responded, “I absolutely agree. It is wrong to describe what happened as Islamic terrorism”.
We need to identify problems in both the question and the answer. The question makes a completely unjustified religious parallel between the IRA and jihadi terrorists. The IRA were absolutely not fighting in the name of Christianity or seeking to expand its influence. Indeed, this paramilitary organisation’s philosophical links plainly derived much from atheistic Marxism. Its aims and motivation were entirely political, namely removing what they saw as colonial rule over the Northern Ireland.
Regarding Mrs May’s response to the question, yes of course very many Muslims eschew violence - we gladly recognise that - but it stands reality on its head to argue that there is no connection whatsoever between a certain strain of Islamic teaching and jihadi terrorism.
Following the Westminster atrocity, on Friday March 24th there was held a multi-faith gathering outside Westminster Abbey addressed by the London Central Mosque’s Head Imam, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and Sheikh Mohammed Al-Hilli.
Sheikh Khalifa Ezzat from the Central Mosque said of terrorists, “We condemn … those criminals. We should not link them with Islam, because Islam … calls for peace, co-existence and tolerance”.
We of course welcome this condemnation of terror, and as Christians we love our Muslim neighbours and always seek friendly relations, but the imam's statement that Islam calls for peace, co-existence and tolerance between faiths is undermined by sharia law’s declaration of the death penalty for converts from Islam to Christianity, and by the grave difficulties faced by Christians in many part of the Islamic world (e.g. in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia).
Also, again whilst desiring amicable relations with other faiths, this does not mean that every kind of national occasion (including tragedies) must now be marked with some kind of multi-faith response and ceremony. Has it now become an act of prejudice, bigotry and division to be distinctly Christian in our national life?
One cannot help but notice that the political establishment, the media and the general public in Britain are becoming more and more immersed in the notion that people of all religions and none share a common set of values, and it is this common ground which is holding the nation together and which will make us defeat terrorism.
There seems to be no comprehension of the exclusive claims of the Lord Jesus Christ or of the reality of His government of the nations (Matthew 28:18). Nor is there any understanding of the utter incompatibility of other religions with Biblical Christianity. Few in high places seem willing to acknowledge that Britain is such an attractive place for people of other faiths to come and settle precisely because of the influence of historic evangelicalism, which in the past has played such a pivotal role in the development of our parliamentary democracy, many wholesome institutions and general high quality of life.
Our terrified secular society is looking for security in an embracing of religious and cultural diversity, whereas national well-being is only to be found in embracing the truth of Jesus Christ. The peace, stability and security of this nation is not a function of the politically correct values shared by those in a secularist-led multicultural/multi-faith society. The destiny of nations is determined by the one true Trinitarian God, and He alone can exalt the nation which is righteous before Him.
What liberal secularists and those of other religions, and of none, need in modern Britain is not more worship at the politically correct altar of diversity, but a turning in repentance and faith to the only Saviour of men, the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as the powerful preaching of the gospel of personal salvation in the 18th century saved this nation from violent revolution such as occurred in France, so today, Britain’s only hope is the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified for sinners.