Some things never cease to amaze me. In the week I was listening to a member of the English Defence League talking about the erosion of Christian values amongst other things. Now I'm a Roman Catholic, so you probably can work out what my views about the founder of Christianity (Jesus) are. What never ceases to amaze me is how people who profess to be concerned about the religion can seemingly be so ignorant about exactly what and who they are subscribing to. So for the benefit of any curious EDL members here's a round up of the facts about Jesus. I'm not going to discuss the spiritual aspects of the man or the religion, just a few facts about his life, which are quite relevant some of the views which we associate with the EDL and their fellow travellers.
1. Jesus was a Palestinian Jew, living under Roman occupation.
2. Jesus and his family were asylum seekers, fleeing to Nazereth to seek asylum from persecution.
3. The man Jesus called Dad wasn't his father.
4. Jesus advocated tolerance of foreigners and minorities (The Samaritans as in the story of the Good Samaritan were despised by Israelites).
5. The three wise men were black.
6. Jesus advocated non violent resistance in the face of persecution.
As far as I'm concerned, it's a matter for each of us to decide what we believe and why we believe it. If however people claim to follow a particular path and use it as a justification for all manner of bad behaviour, it is a moral duty of all of us who subscribe to that brand of philosophy to point out where they are going wrong and to try and educate them in the error of their ways. I'd like to see the reasonable members of all faiths challenge the extremists in their midsts. If we don't challenge them, we are in effect condoning them.
Yesterday was remembrance day. London fell silent for two minutes. For me it is a special time. My father was Flt Lt in the Royal Australian Airforce during the second world war. He flew 40 active service missions in a Wellington Bomber for 40 Squadron, based in the UK at Moreton in the Marsh, North Africa and Foggia in Italy. On his 40th mission, he was shot down over Ploesti in Romania and spent time in a prisoner of war camp in Bucharest, before escaping and being repatriated to the UK. He was one of millions who volunteered, putting their life on the line, to protect our freedom. I've never had to put my life on the line for my views or my religion. I've often wondered if I'd have the same courage that my father showed. It is sad that with all the millions of people who died in wars in this and the last century, we still seem to have many of the same challenges. When will we ever learn?