Sunday 14 February 2016

Radicalisation "in a positive sense"

hobbyhorse noun 
 a ​subject that someone often ​talks about, usually for a ​long ​time
e.g. Don't ​mention ​Ed Stourton or Craig'll get on his hobbyhorse again.

Sticking with Sunday!...

When I first studied Sunday in preparation for the launch of our little blog I noticed the near absence (over the nearly-two-year period I was monitoring) of Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists and Evangelical Christians. 

Then, soon after this blog began, one of the UK's best-known Evangelical Christians, Steve Chalke, began appearing on the programme, being invited on in January 2013, following his change of heart over gay marriage.  (Having opposed it, he now supported it and had written an article to that effect, which Sunday had picked up on.)

He also appeared in February 2014 backing a feminist campaign to criminalise men who pay for sex; was interviewed in March 2014 as part of his campaign to force the government to legislate against companies that don't do enough to stop human trafficking; and returned in August 2014 to mark the launch of his "Big Bible Debate" on social media which he hoped would help overcome "prejudice and oppression" and be a "tool for liberation".

Sunday had him back on this morning to promote his new book Radical and to talk about terrorism. 

He told William Crawley that radicalisation arises because young people have been "marooned" by "a sense of not belonging, of not having identity, of not feeling represented, of not feeling voiced and being alienated",  and that we need to win them back by fighting "radicalisation in a negative sense" with "radicalisation in a positive sense".

That's a familiar message on the BBC, isn't it (albeit not usually expressed quite in those terms)? 

And here comes an even more familiar one: Steve Chalke believes that we also need to stop focusing on Islamic extremism... which William Crawley quite properly suggested that many listeners might wonder where he's been for the last few years!

Steve said: But what about Christian extremists? "Christian extremism is alive and well" in Europe and America, he said. The Ku Klux Klan is on the rise again. There's been a "xenophobic" response in Europe to migrants, he added.

"You never hear those examples described as 'Christianist' extremism", commented William (helpfully).

"That's all to do with media coverage, isn't it?" Steve replied. 

And what about Anders Breivik? He was a Lutheran, "driven by a far-right Christian attitude", he continued.  

Zealots we've had since Biblical times, and terrorism too. So we've got to stop and think and come up with "great" ideas,  said Steve - like Steve's own Inspire project (which Steve himself duly mentioned).

And you can find out more about those ideas by looking up Steve's Inspire project online, said William, echoing the Inspire man as the interview closed.


I'd have hoped that William Crawley might have probed some of Steve Chalke's claims there a bit more, maybe putting to him questions of this kind: 
  • Aren't the KKK more accurately thought of as a bunch of white supremacists driven by racism rather than as Christian extremists? 
  • Is the media coverage (including the BBC) really anti-Islam? 
  • Is Christian extremism really responsible for the "xenophobic" reaction to migrants?
  • Was Breivik's terrorism really driven by his Christian faith? (From what I read about it his attitude towards Christianity is full of contradictions. At times he despised it, at times he saw it as a useful tool in his 'war' and himself as merely a cultural Christian). 
  • And how can any of the above really be compared to Islamic extremism, whose explicit motivation is Islam (and which is presently defacing whole swathes of the world)?
Sunday obviously knew what messages Steve Chalke wanted to send today. And send them he did, with their help.


  1. Whenever I talk to church groups about the forks in the road where the church took wrong turns just to go down ever narrower rabbit holes into supreme irrelevance and pulchritude...I start and end with the rise, fall and rise of Mr Steve Chalke...the weathervane of Baptist Hari-Kiri, every bit as much as Paul Flowers did for Methodism in 2013.
    The Baptists-remember gave us Martin Luther King and Billy Graham-and that worldwide authority was biblical, prophetic and saved Christianity from itself for 40 years or so.
    But the likes of Chalke got in, just as perniciously as Jonathan Edwards( look THAT name up for how mighty the church had fallen-for the original way back was one mighty fine preacher and leader).
    No-we got bloody Shakin` Stevens when we could have had Elvis.
    Chalke is a content-free pretty boy(well back then he was)who is the BBCs idea of what a "Reverend Blue jeans" should look like and sound like...and the Baptists no doubt STILL provide him a perch to fake Christian life.
    The clues in the name...a barium meal for the Church if it was still the Body of Christ-as it is it`s more akin to Michael Jacksons dodgy zombie in the Thriller video.

  2. The BBC would love to find some real live Christian terrorists out there to add at least some plausibility to the meme that Islam is no more violent than other religions. Unfortunately those pesky Methodists still stubbornly refuse to blow themselves up in shopping malls or fly planes into skyscrapers. Inconsiderate bunch

    In the meantime they fill the airwaves with apostates like Chalke still something better comes along.


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