YP Comment: Church must counter extremists

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CONTRARY to popular perception, tolerance of all remains one of Britain’s most redeeming features. This is a proud Christian country which is also respectful, and appreciative, of people who hold other faiths in a multi-cultural society. The regret is this is being overshadowed by those who hold extreme positions, whether it be intolerant liberals who don’t want Christians to demonstrate their faith, or the violence meted out against Muslims, and with the most tragic of consequences on occasion.

This is a proud Christian country which is also respectful, and appreciative, of people who hold other faiths in a multi-cultural society. The regret is this is being overshadowed by those who hold extreme positions, whether it be intolerant liberals who don’t want Christians to demonstrate their faith, or the violence meted out against Muslims, and with the most tragic of consequences on occasion.

This has now been highlighted by the Anglican Bishop of Leeds – the Right Reverend Nicholas Baines has suggested the rise of secularism means that there are Christians who could be deterred from speaking about their faith in public.

It should not come to this. The Church of England is doing some extraordinary work in Yorkshire’s parishes. Without its spiritual teachings and pastoral work, this county – indeed this country – would be much the poorer. Furthermore, multi-faith community work in Leeds offers a positive story of hope which should be told.

As the Bishop said, it is slightly ironic that it is secularists, and not followers of other faiths, who take offence at Christians celebrating Christmas. After a year which will be remembered for political divisions on both sides of the Atlantic, perhaps it falls to senior clergymen to use Advent to preach the importance of tolerance so an increasingly intolerant minority cannot undermine this priceless value.

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