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Rev Jules Gomes: Will the Bishop of Manchester ‘come together’ by inviting Muslims to his transgender week?


Here a quack, there a quack, everywhere a quack, quack! A quack is a fake doctor. You don’t trust quacks to offer an accurate diagnosis of an ailment or a prescription for a cure. Quacks are expert at quacking. Quacks offer placebos and platitudes.

When quacks take centre stage in leading the rituals of communal grief, their voices blend in with the therapeutic kitsch of teddy bears, candles, cartoons, murals, mosaics, flowers, flags, projections, hashtags, balloons, wreaths, lights, vigils, scarves and the goo and gunk of postmodern sanctimonious pap.

The reader must decide if the voices of Britain’s religious establishment wailing loudly after the tragic and horrific Manchester terrorist attack on Monday are quacks whose words will only serve to anaesthetise further a culture steeped in snowflake sentimentality.

David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, comes across more like a hippie past his sell-by date than a bishop with gravitas and dignity. He is known for relentlessly pursuing former Prime Minister David Cameron to take in more Syrian refugees, but admitted that he would not take any into his own six-bedroom recently refurbished house because of the language barrier and their ‘alien culture.’

Bishop Walker is bang in the epicentre of the worst terrorist attack on British soil in recent years. Here are some of his offerings to a shocked and grieving city and nation: ‘They are the few, we are the many. We are Manchester.’ Will the good bishop translate this into common parlance? In every tyranny it is the few who knife and bomb and lie their way to power over the many. The few in Nazi Germany, the few in Stalin’s Russia, the few in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, the few in Mao’s Red China, and the few in fat-boy Kim Jong Un’s North Korea. And what does he mean by ‘we are Manchester’? Is he going to play football for the world famous Manchester United football team?

‘It cannot defeat us because love in the end is always stronger than hate.’ More fluff. Is he referring to the eschatological end? Of course, love is stronger than hate. But how did we defeat Hitler? By singing the Beatles’ “All you need is love”? By waving Woodstock banners that read “Make Love Not War”? Doesn’t the good bishop know that radical Islam already calls the shots in swathes of metropolitan Britain? There are no-go zones for white people. Sharia courts operate against the law of the land with impunity. Hundreds of jihadists have returned from fighting alongside ISIS. Mosques and imams spew bile calling for a Caliphate in Britain.

A tweet from Michael McDermott lays bare the quackery of the Church of England: ‘Every priest and every vicar in the country being dragged out of their homes to appear on TV and talk bollocks.’ Richard Moore responds to the tweet: ‘Bishop of Manchester on Sky News right now doing just that.’ A tweet by Pat Riot states the predictable, ‘Yup I was right. Bishop of Manchester appears on TV and defends Islam and other faiths against bomber. Why does Islam not defend itself?’

Bishop Walker is joined by Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu, who offer more arch-platitudes.

Is Bishop Walker and his archbishops saying anything we haven’t heard before? Has Bishop Walker put his finger anywhere close to the root of the problem? Does Bishop Walker offer an accurate diagnosis of the problem? Can Bishop Walker even dare to utter the words – “radical Islamic terrorism?” If he cannot offer a diagnosis, there is no point asking if he has a prescription for a cure. The Bishop of Manchester is offering no greater wisdom or prophetic words than a million tweets from teenagers who are saying more or less what he is saying. Or rather, he is saying what they are saying.

The bishop talks of ‘coming together.’ Who exactly is meant to be ‘coming together?’ Bishop Walker’s Cathedral under its left-wing liberal Dean Rogers Govender offers its sacred space to rock groups for concerts. Rockers get  drunk and vomit in the aisles. In July, Manchester Cathedral will hold a National Transgender Celebration event entitled “Sparkle in the Cathedral.” Are devout Muslims likely to ‘come together’ to ‘celebrate’ such ‘diversity’ promoted by the Church of England in Manchester?

The bishop knows that after a few days of mourning, life will return to normal and nothing will really change. Coming together is pitiful and perverse unless we do something about the threat. So apart from dishing out dollops of spiritual goo, the bishop needs to tell us how we stop more children from being blown up in the next act of terrorism.

The biblical prophets offer an alternative to voices of spiritual quackery. The true prophet told you what you needed to hear. The false prophet told you what you wanted to hear. The true prophets preached a message of gloom and doom. Their diagnosis was accurate but pessimistic. The false prophets offered a fraudulent but optimistic diagnosis and prognosis. ‘They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace’ (Jer 6:14).

Jeremiah is telling the Israelites that if they don’t repent and change their ways, the superpower of Babylon will defeat them in war and deport them into exile. Hananiah is telling the Israelites: ‘Don’t worry. Be happy. Carry on as before. Everything will be fine’ (Jer 28).

Can the bishops of the established Church of England say something that is both pastorally sensitive and prophetically radical – without slipping into the demonic temptation to be politically correct, obnoxiously superficial and nauseatingly naïve?

First, the bishops can call the Government to account on matters of security. The first duty of government is to protect its citizens. ‘Every member of society hath a right to be protected in the enjoyment of life, liberty and property,’ states the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1776. But this right to protection did not originate in America; it was inherited from English constitutionalism, writes Professor Steven Heyman. Why has the government failed? The bishops need to call the government to account on matters of security, as they regularly do on left-wing issues like immigration and the re-distribution of wealth.

Second, the bishops can call the mainstream media to account. The narrative of radical Islamic terrorism is seriously skewed by the British mainstream media – especially the BBC. The media must tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Instead, the British media, by and large engages in mass cover-up.

Third, the bishops can begin to create an awareness in the British populace that terrorism is part of everyday life in many parts of the world and Christians, in particular, are its biggest victims. If one has to demonstrate solidarity with the weakest and most vulnerable, then Britons have to be moved to tears and to action by the plight of Christians in the Middle East, Pakistan, Indonesia, and parts of Islamic-dominated Africa.

Last week when the Vice President of Indonesia Jusuf Kalla was invited to the Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies to give a talk on “moderate Islam”, not a single bishop supported the protest led by Indonesian and Pakistani Christians outside the venue. Earlier this month, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the Christian governor of Jakarta, was sentenced to two years in prison for the crime of blasphemy.

Fourth, the bishops can push Muslim leaders to acknowledge the problems with the interpretation of “texts of terror” in the Qur’an and Hadith through genuine interfaith dialogue. This could be a catalyst for reforming Islam—in concert with reformist Muslims who are not helped by the ‘blind guides’ of Christianity.

Fifth, the bishops can address issues surrounding the theological and historical claims made by the terrorists. A statement released by ISIS reads: ‘The explosive devices were detonated in the shameless concert arena, resulting in 30 Crusaders being killed and 70 others being wounded. And what comes next will be more severe on the worshipers of the Cross and their allies, by Allah’s permission.’ The bishops need to explain to a religiously illiterate population what this means and why Westerners will continue to be attacked by radical Islamic terrorists who associate Christianity with the West.

But this cannot even begin to happen unless the bishops acknowledge that there is a problem with radical Islam – and this is something spiritual quacks cannot and will not do. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. If it looks like a bishop, talks like a bishop, and quacks like a bishop, then it probably is a bishop.

(Image: Dave Collier)

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‘Rebel Priest’ Rev Jules Gomes
‘Rebel Priest’ Rev Jules Gomes
The Rev’d Dr Jules Gomes, BA, BD, MTh, PhD (Cantab) is a journalist and academic.

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