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Radio review: No Justice, No Peace: Religion and protest, James Veitch’s Contractual Obligation, and A Big Disease with a Little Name

19 June 2020

No Justice, No Peace: Religion and protest (Radio 4, Wednesday of last week), presented by Chine McDonald, explored Christianity and racial inequality

No Justice, No Peace: Religion and protest (Radio 4, Wednesday of last week), presented by Chine McDonald, explored Christianity and racial inequality

THE most segregated time in Amer­ica is 11 a.m. on Sundays. Martin Luther King Jr’s denunciation of Christian culture reverberates be­­­yond time and place, not least in the conversations featured in No Jus­tice, No Peace: Religion and protest (Radio 4, Wednesday of last week). This was an impressive exposition of the relationship between Chris­tianity and racial inequality, pre­sented by Chine McDonald.

That the Bible has been invoked to justify racial oppression renders Christian identity in a BAME con­text that much more compli­cated, not least in communities where bib­lical authority is particu­larly vener­ated. McDonald posed the question: does Jesus or St Paul say enough against slavery? The answer entails reversion to all man­ner of questions regarding the Bible — questions that are not unrelated to the debates currently playing out around our more recent historical icons.

If, incidentally, anybody doubts the potency of Winston Churchill’s statue, then they might consider Uri Geller’s contribution to James Veitch’s Contractual Obligation (Radio 4, Saturday), in which the notorious spoon-bender tells a story of Theresa May handling one of Churchill’s spoons. From that mo­­ment, Mr Geller claims, Mrs May was destined for the highest office.

But, to return to McDonald’s programme: the most incisive con­tri­­­bu­­­tion came from Ben Lindsay, a black pastor serving a predom­inantly white congregation in south London (Features, 12 July 2019). His account of “integration fatigue” articulated the long-term psycholo­gical stress of having to manage hundreds of social nego­tiations a day, most of them un­­noticed by the community.

As the witnesses to this pro­gramme agreed, neither in this country nor in the United States, has racial justice been given enough consideration.

If, in 40 years’ time, there is any sensible talk radio still being pro­duced, then we will, no doubt, mark the Covid crisis with series such as A Big Disease with a Little Name (Radio 4, weekdays, Friday om­­ni­bus), which remembered the out­break of AIDS in the early 1980s through interviews with patients, doctors, and researchers.

Before it was AIDS, the little name was GRID, standing for Gay Related Immune Deficiency and for a prej­u­dice that undoubtedly hindered treatment in those early years.

In an era when overtly gay Lonely Hearts adverts were hard to find, getting information was a challenge, as we heard from Rupert Whitaker, the partner of Terrence Higgins, in whose name the first notable AIDS charity was created. Among the gay community, there was mistrust at what some regarded as a conspiracy to pathol­ogise a lifestyle. But the reality of the disease was never in doubt to one practitioner, Jonathan Weber, whose re­­­search at St Mary’s Hospital, Pad­dington, served to in­­form gov­ern­­­ment policy. Of the 400 patients in his cohort, 399 died.

Listen to an interview with Chine McDonald on the Church Times Podcast.

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