Friday, 21 January 2011
"In 1882 Her Majesty Queen Victoria opened a new court building. It is in the Strand just at the entrance to the City of London. It was built to house the superior courts of this land with the exception of the House of Lords. No one who enters can fail to be struck by the similarity of the Great Hall with the interior of those gothic cathedrals with which this kingdom is so richly endowed. But if, before entering, you gaze upon the façade of the building you will notice 4 statues.
There you will find King Alfred who made such a notable contribution to Saxon England by codifying the laws of his day. You will find Moses to whom was given the ten commandments and to whom, by tradition, is ascribed authorship of the first 5 books of the Bible in which you will find in great detail the laws governing the children of Israel. Also there on the façade is King Solomon whose wisdom has become a legend and who displayed outstanding qualities as a judge when sitting in the Family Division in the only reported case of which we have details. And the 4th statue is that of Jesus Christ who, I imagine, needs no introduction to those involved in this case.
Why are those statues there? Perhaps there were many reasons for them but I venture to suggest that one was to emphasise the Judaeo-Christian roots from which the common law of England was derived.
A great deal has however happened since King Alfred and his Saxon laws, and even more has changed since Moses, King Solomon and Jesus Christ walked upon this earth. Those Judaeo-Christian principles, standards and beliefs which were accepted as normal in times past are no longer so accepted."
Judge Andrew Rutherford, giving judgment in the Bristol County Court on 18th January 2011 against Peter and Hazel Bull, proprietors of a 'bed and breakfast' establishment, who refused to provide double accomodation to a homosexual couple on the grounds that they weren't married.
It may seem an insignificant event, not at all on a par with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 or the French Revolution of 1789, but I wonder whether future historians will not record this moment in 2011 as the symbolic 'turning point' (the last of many, to be sure) that marked an irreversible change in direction for the UK, the date on the calendar after which it could most definitely be said that "Christian principles, standards and beliefs which were accepted as normal in times past are no longer so accepted".
Some readers will say that Britain was only ever nominally Christian, and might quote Luther to the effect that true Christians are rare birds. They might also say that the endeavour to create a Christian state inevitably confuses Law and Gospel. True, perhaps, but beside the point I wish to make for now, which is that England, and by extension the United Kingdom, was a deliberate attempt over successive generations to form a nation with a Christian ethos, an endeavour that we may admire, albeit with reservations. That project is now dead by virtue of the slow breakdown, over the last century and a half, of the consensus of belief which undergirded it. The church will survive, I have no doubt about that, but individual Christians will increasingly have to 'go underground' in order to avoid the wrath of a state which no longer respects their consciences.
For now, considering the many blessings that have flowed to countless Britons and to the wider world through this endeavour, it seems only fitting to mourn the passing of Christian Britain: Requiescat in pace.
Click on post title to view the judgment in full.
HT The Ugley Vicar