Statistics from the 2011 UK census, just released, show that 59% of the population of England and Wales still calls itself Christian. This figure is down from 72% in 2001. Clearly, the fall is because the older generation, who are nearly wholly nominal Christians, is dying out. It is surprising that this figure for even nominal Christianity is still so high. We would have thought less than 50%. (The figure for practising Christians is probably about 3%). At the same time, this census has not surprisingly revealed that over a quarter, 25%, of the population has no religion at all.
Clearly, the figure of 59% who call themselves Christians has been boosted by the massive immigration to the UK since 2001. Immigrants have been admitted by governments greedy to exploit the hard work of Christians from Eastern Europe, especially Poland, and Africa. (True, governments have also been greedy to exploit the masses of poor Muslim immigrants allowed into the country in recent years – but with cultural consequences which they will live to regret. See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/dec/11/census-2011-religion-race-education).
Other Western European countries report figures very similar to Britain for apostasy and mass atheism. It is clear that practising Christians today are a very small minority in all Western European countries. Moreover, it is a minority that is already undergoing indirect persecution. Unless there is an as yet unforeseeable movement of repentance, this persecution will become direct. By 2021, the figure for nominal Christians could easily be as low as 40%, perhaps less. Even in the USA, the number of ‘Christians’ is falling fast. (And most of these seem to be sectarians, compromised by poor education, US nationalism and happy-clappy fundamentalism, which trends have supported the extremes of the Republican Party).
All this comes against a background of direct worldwide persecution of Christianity in Africa and Asia. Nigeria, Mali, the Sudan, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Indonesia are only some of the countries concerned. Millions of Christians there have been massacred in recent decades. Today, the Copts of Egypt are being severely persecuted, thanks to the seizure of power by the Western-backed Muslim Brotherhood. However, the most serious situation of all is in Syria. Here the Orthodox Patriarch has just died. His flock, once concentrated in western Syrian centres like Damascus, Aleppo and Homs, is being scattered and murdered. We cannot help thinking that Patriarch Ignatius, who always supported Pan-Arab nationalism, must have died of a broken heart at seeing his country and people being torn to pieces, victims of geopolitics and greed.
The latest anti-Syrian fantasy accusation is that the Syrian government is set to use chemical weapons against its own people. This is nonsense. Its stocks of chemical weapons only exist out of fear that Western-armed and financed, nuclear Israel, whose stockpiles of chemical weapons are 180 time superior to that of Syria, may use its chemical weapons against Syria. This fantastic accusation is an excuse, as were the invented, non-existent ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in Iraq an excuse; international rumour has it that Western nations together with Islamists are planning an attack on Syria at the end of December and the assassination of the Syrian President.
The curious thing about the whole anti-Christian Arab winter is that the aggressive, secularist and anti-religious West has allied itself with Muslim fanatics against Christianity. Of course, we should not find this curious. The West already did this in Afghanistan in the 1980s, arming to the hilt those it now calls ‘Taliban insurgents’, but then ‘heroic freedom-fighters’. And the British did the same in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, freely allowing the Ottomans to persecute and massacre the Christians of the Balkans. And when Turkey, taking advantage of the Western-organised revolution in Russia in 1917 to massacre one million Armenians, the West was also silent. Today the US and the UK continue to allow Turkey to occupy 40% of Cyprus and massacre the Kurds and persecute Greeks and Armenians. But then of course the UK itself gassed the Iraqi Kurds in the 1930s and the Western Powers supplied Iraq with poison gas to massacre its Kurds in the 1980s.
The meeting of diametrically opposed extremes is nothing new. Did not the Romans and the Jews connive to crucify Christ? Did not Roman Catholic Crusaders and Muslim Turks connive to destroy the Capital of Christendom and the millennium-old Roman Christian Empire? Did not the Mongols and the Teutonic Knights attempt to destroy Russia under St Alexander Nevsky? Did not German generals and American capitalists connive to finance the Russian Revolution? Did not NATO and Albanian Muslim terrorists connive to steal the most ancient part of Serbia?
Today, Syria is the target of the extremists. Islamist mercenaries, especially from Libya, Qatar, the Caucasus and Central Asia, are being shipped in and armed by the US. Qatar wants to put a gas pipeline through Syria to supply Western Europe with natural gas. Turkey wants the same pipeline to go through its territory too. The stakes are all the higher, for it is now known that Syria too has huge reserves of natural gas, which have not yet been exploited by Western companies – as they are now doing with impunity in Libya. And if Syria falls back into the Middle Ages because of Islamic fundamentalism, the West will rejoice; such backwardness will allow it to exploit the country at will.
The massacre and exile of a million or two Syrian Christians is not going to stop this. However, although the West was left free to take over Libya, it is not being left free to seize power in Syria. Syria has friends, first of all, in China. And the West fears China’s economic power. Secondly, there is Russia, which hopes to extend the already-existent Eurasian Union to the whole Orthodox Christian and Central Asian world. And thirdly, there is Islamist Iran, which is hostile to atheism. If the new atheist West really wants to spark a Third World War, it really is doing its best. We live in dangerous times. The 17 US Navy ships, the 5 British ships, the French aircraft carrier and those of other nations at present gathered off Syrian coasts, and the forces at the US bases in Turkey, Kuwait and in the Gulf, spell danger.
St James the Great-Martyr of Persia / Iran
27 November/10 December 2012