“CHARITY” and “compassion” came third and fourth in a list of “Christian values” given by the Prime Minister in his Easter message. Top of the list was “responsibility”, followed by “hard work”.
In a tally of “values we treasure” that should lead British people to understand — and be proud of — themselves as a Christian country, David Cameron listed: “Values of responsibility, hard work, charity, compassion, and pride in working for the common good, and honouring the social obligations we have to one another, to our families, and our communities.”
“People of every faith and none” shared these values, too, he said. He called on the whole country to “stand together and defend them” when “terrorists try to destroy our way of life.”
Mr Cameron praised Christians who “comfort the bereaved” at home, and those “aid workers and volunteers who so often risk their own lives to save the lives of others in war-torn regions across the world”.
It was the problem of violence arriving on our own shores, however, that seemed most important: “We must show that in this struggle of our generation we will defeat the pernicious ideology that is the root cause of this terrorism by standing up proudly for our values and our way of life.”
Reaction to the speech was muted. It “was no more Christian than any other party political broadcast”, The Daily Telegraph said; and The Guardian reckoned that “a serious Christian would feel as alienated and patronised by it as an atheist.” Twitter took it less seriously: “I’m surprised you don’t say Easter could be abolished in the UK if we leave the EU”, one tweet said.
Terrorism also featured in Pope Francis’s Easter message, which some people had to watch from up to three-quarters of a mile away because of heavy security controls. He talked of the difficulties faced by refugees who wanted to settle in Europe, the product of “blind and brutal” violence that could be fought only with “weapons of love”.
“This day invites us not to forget those men and women seeking a better future: an ever more numerous throng of migrants and refugees, including many children, fleeing war, hunger, poverty, and social injustice,” he said.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, before the news of the suicide bombing in Lahore, framed his Easter message in the light of recent attacks. Terrorism in Brussels, he said, be a reason to “act fearfully; to see a world in which fear triumphs”. But: “On Easter Day, hope decisively overcame fear.”
He went on: “Jesus Christ reaches out not in exclusion, but in embrace; this is the feast of the victory of God, and we celebrate in the midst of darkness, by our worship and praise shining an unquenchable light.”
References to terrorism were common. The Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said that, in a world gripped by fear, the message of Easter was “Do not be afraid.” The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the Most Revd Michael Curry, said: “Don’t be afraid. And don’t be ashamed to be people of love. And go forth into this world and help us to change it from the nightmare it often is into the dream that God intends.”
But the Archbishop of Uganda, the Most Revd Stanley Ntagali, reminded listeners that “politics is not our salvation — only Jesus is our salvation.” Ultimately, he said, “it is only through the crucified and risen Jesus that we can find healing and reconciliation.”
Question of the week: Can church pronouncements help combat terrorism?