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Rev Julian Mann: Let the censored Oxford abortion debate take place in my South Yorkshire church


It is vital not only for freedom of speech in the UK but also for public morals that the banned Oxford debate on abortion takes place as soon as possible. If the moral apathy of the ‘whatever’ society prevails, then self-worshipping political correctness with its Stalinist no-platform policy wins.

Ideally, the debate on the motion, ‘This House believes Britain’s Abortion Culture Hurts Us All’, would take place somewhere else in Oxford. But I would be very happy to put it to our Parochial Church Council that we offer the organisers, Oxford Students for Life, our South Yorkshire village church as an alternative venue.

It would not be the historic academic surroundings of Christ Church Oxford but at least it would defy the Censors, for that is the official title for the administrative academics who gave into student pressure to ban the debate on college premises.

It would be very appropriate to have the debate in a Christian church. It was the cult of the self – the idea that personal autonomy has the right to go unchallenged by a higher moral authority – that suppressed this debate. The only spiritual and moral David that can slay this politically correct Goliath is Christianity.

That is because Christianity as it has been practised in this country since the Reformation has allowed for the development of freedom of thought and action within divinely-established, transcendent boundaries. Libertarians do not have the moral authority to challenge politically correct censorship because their outlook is a different mutation of the personal autonomy virus. Libertarians want their right to offend to be upheld whilst the politically correct want their right not to be offended to be upheld. It is the same god of the self, albeit worshipped at different shrines.

One of the conditions for the use of our church would be that a service of evening prayer is held prior to the debate at which two Bible passages would be read – Psalm 139 verses 13&14: “For you (the Lord God) created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (New International Version).

And the words of Luke’s Gospel recording the moment when John the Baptist’s pregnant mother Elizabeth was greeted by her relative Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 2v41).

There would be no requirement on the main speakers or any participants in the debate to attend the service beforehand but they are cordially invited.

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Julian Mann
Julian Mann
Julian Mann is a former Church of England vicar, now an evangelical journalist based in Heysham, Lancashire.

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