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October 20, 2018


Dave Summers

I keep a file of links to blog posts that I find particularly interesting or striking, and I have added this one with the comment "a "Wow!" sermon from Jim".
In yesterday's news, Nicola Sturgeon withdrew from speaking at a conference because Steve Bannon was booked to be on the platform the following day. What does your message, and Jesus' message, say to that situation and others like it? However objectionable we may find Steve Bannon's views (and I do), I don't think withdrawal is the right response. There was a time when evangelicals were known for avoiding "worldly" activities such as dancing and going to the cinema; nowadays that exclusionary attitude seems to have largely left the church but grown in the world of politics. Which I don't think is a good thing.
If we are to have any part in reconciliation or peacemaking, let alone sharing our convictions, we must be able to meet our "enemies". And surely the Gospel can teach politicians a lesson.
What do you think?


I think the First Minister is in a representative role, and decisions she takes are political acts. She refuses to legitimate the values, words and actions of Steve Bannon by giving tacit approval by her presence. Her refusal is a clear signal of disapproval, not of reciprocal hatred. I am not an SNP voter, but I am a Scot who expects the First Minister to represent the values of our country and to be a wise and strong advocate of those values, and a voice of reason and decency in the maelstrom of contemporary politics. So I think she was right to withdraw. Madeleine Albright's book on Fascism repeatedly points out the importance of not normalising fascist speech, policies and attitudes, and one way of avoiding this is public calling out of such behaviour. I think Nicola Sturgeon did that.
This is complicated, but she would not see herself as an apologist for Jesus called to follow his teaching. Christians on the other hand walk that road of peace, love and hope - though that doesn't mean, and cannot mean, giving comfort and welcome to ideas which threaten that peace, love and hope for the vulnerable other.

Dave Summers

Thank you for your reply. I wasn't suggesting that Nicola Sturgeon would see herself as an apologist for Jesus (I don't know what her religious beliefs are, if any) but that his principles are relevant anyway. I heartily agree with your last sentence, and the importance of not normalising fascism, but how each of us works that out in practice is I suppose a personal judgment. My fear is that exclusion can foster the growth of fascist attitudes, but a line has to be drawn somewhere (for example, promotion of racial hatred is rightly illegal). I recognise the value of your reply to me too though.

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