Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Religion should 'Liberate' more than 'Moderate'

I had a wee chuckle to see that the BNP’s members lists have been leaked, which has created widespread pandemonium. The members are worried of being ‘outed’ and the BNP seem silently happy that they get coverage which dismisses the accusation that they are a party for the ‘skinhead’ types. I listened to a Radio 4 interview of the BNP leader who presented his views earnestly and with great pride. I was left wondering what it is that makes the far right strong? Was there anything to be learnt from this party?

The BNP are a lost cause because they have a barrage of institutions against their policies of exclusivism, racism and white elitism. But what I want to question is the extent to which the views of the BNP have been condemned but through a moderate agenda because maybe...there still lurks some demons in our closets? If a far right party is to be countered then surely its counter would be a far left/progressive response? Is the centrist response of many good enough? Are we really saying that race is not an issue in the UK? When I was dancing the streets, not literally, of Brooklyn on the night of Obama’s victory I heard a black man shout ‘Racism is Dead’. It made me wonder if he was actually right? Or is racism dying? In the same way moderation is dying to make way for real progressive values, socially and religiously. And now we see the media arguing whether it is right to argue that Obama is indeed a ‘black’ man because to be black, for these commentators, one needs to be a descendant of black slaves and definitely not from a mixed race background, let alone being cared for by white grandparents!

I’m remembering my undergraduate classes with Dr. Mary Keller who introduced me to the work of W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, and the ground shattering work of Cornel West, ‘Race Matters’.

It must be accepted that the BNP are an honest party, they say what they have to say and you either love them or loathe them. We have a firm substance to react against and condemn their policies. As for the ‘politically correct’ majority in the UK it may be a different tale to be told. This is why I believe ‘moderation’ is a disguise for a deeper malaise which many are not willing to unveil. In politics we see how moderates/centrists rule but in theology and religion we see how the boundaries are so much more liberated. For theology and religion is a not a matter of votes or power, if you’re saying ‘yes it is’ then you’re reading too much political Islam! Theology and religion is progressive and it belongs to every individual believer, not an institution or political party. When theology and religion becomes a thing to ‘possess’ it loses its liberation. In the same way I firmly believe that religious leaders, such as the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Ayatollahs are in a very difficult position for their role is highly politicised and the burden of pleasing the masses may quite easily force them to overlook their own personal progressive thoughts on an issue and become ‘moderates’.

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