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The Coalition must protect the right to be true to our Christian faith

Thanks to Sensitive Outsider for the link.

It's quite a challenge, to make Polly Toynbee laugh. The Left-wing Guardian columnist does hysterical hyperbole – she was forced to apologise recently for comparing the Coalition's cuts to Hitler's final solution – but not humour.

I had her in stitches, however, on Christmas Eve. My claim on the Today programme that Christians were persecuted had Ms Toynbee laughing on air. Persecuted, Christians? Pull the other one. They were victims only of their delusions that God lives and life is eternal.

Miss Toynbee could not have known that later that day, Nigerian Muslims in the city of Jos would kill 32 Christians, or that attacks on two churches in a neighbouring city would leave six more dead on Christmas Day. In Iraq, Christians were keeping a low profile during the holy days, lest they once again be the target of al-Qaeda bombs, like the one that claimed dozens of lives last October. In Vietnam, a campaign of intimidation against Christians has grown vicious.

In the context of all this, the persecution of Christians in this country can, of course, seem mild, if not comical. After all, being banned from wearing a crucifix to work is nothing in comparison to being thrown into jail. Christians in Iraq face being blown up – so should we care that Christian B&B owners in Britain are being forced to allow gay couples to share a bed?

Yet Christians should not accept intolerance at home simply because it carries less risk than abroad. When their institutions are forced to adopt secular standards in everything from rules of employment to selection of intake, the community should speak up for a fair society in which secularist values do not automatically trump Christian values. This message, most recently issued by the Bishop of Winchester, should strike a chord with Christians and also, as is clear in Lord Justice Woolf's support of it, with anyone who believes in the rule of common sense rather than liberal bias.

Common sense dictates that in a nation where the great majority, in poll after poll, still describe themselves as Christian, displays of Christian culture in public spaces should be welcome. These displays, in the form of wearing a crucifix to work or the saying of grace before an official banquet, remind us of a rich common tradition, and should be cherished for binding disparate elements, from shoppers at Selfridges to Heathrow baggage handlers. Similarly, it is common sense to respect Christian values, even when these clash with the prevailing liberal consensus. Whether they be about the sanctity of marriage or of life, these values prod us to review our me-centred culture, with its excesses and demands for instant gratification.

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