When 1984 came around we breathed a sigh of relief. George Orwell could certainly write, but as a prophet he didn’t stack up. The real 1984 was nothing like his vision of it. We were still free, and we had minds of our own.
Now, a quarter of a century later, it seems we may have relaxed too soon. Of course we haven’t reached Orwell’s 84, but we’re on the way there. In the end, it may turn out that he just got the numbers wrong.
Bit of over-reaction, surely? Well, maybe. But I find myself becoming increasingly uncomfortable at the sort of country I’m living in. Big Brother may still be a shadow, but the shadow seems to be solidifying in a disturbing way.
Free speech has always been a bedrock of our society in Britain, but the right to say what we think is being eroded. Even freedom of thought seems sometimes to be under attack.
As a practising Christian (I haven’t quite got the hang of it yet), I can’t help noticing that certain elements of society are becoming more aggressive towards Christianity. Any positive expression of faith is greeted in the media by outbursts from atheists, just as any scepticism about the causes of climate change is immediately greeted by abuse from activists.
In recent weeks
- a Christian nurse was suspended because she offered to pray for a patient;
- a school receptionist whose five-year-old daughter was told off for talking about Jesus (whatever next?) faced the sack for seeking support from her church;
- a foster mother who had looked after more than 80 children was struck off the register because a Muslim girl in her care became a Christian (even though the girl was 16 and had become a Christian without any encouragement from her foster mother);
- a Christian care home on the south coast had thousands of pounds worth of funding withdrawn by its local council because it wouldn’t wouldn’t ask its elderly residents about their sexual orientation every three months;
- and a Christian encyclopedia has been pulped for being “too Christian” in what the editor-in-chief describes as “probably the first instance of mass book-burning in the 21st century”.
When some of these incidents have received the fresh air of publicity, decisions have been changed. But there is an undercurrent of hostility that is hard to explain, and that breaks through at the slightest provocation.
One atheist wrote to his local paper about the Christian nurse, alleging that a “blind” experiment had proved that prayer was ineffective and in some cases counter-productive. He failed to explain how prayer could be counter-productive if it was ineffective and the people involved did not know they were being prayed for.
Many people will testify that prayer is effective, but that’s not the issue. Prayer has a positive effect on thousands, probably millions, of people. Eliminating it from public and private life can only be destructive.
Of course not all atheists are fanatics. Matthew Parris wrote a surprising and moving article in The Times at the end of last year about the positive effect Christianity has in Africa, largely through the introduction of a positive mindset and by challenging fatalism.
But there are a disturbing number of people who feel they have to “report” anyone who gives any sign of not bowing down to the gods of equality and diversity, as imagined by the sort of liberal mentality which used to tell us that Stalin was a good guy really.
These same people will complain about the use of certain forbidden words, like “golliwog”. Because they are hostile and contemptuous people they cannot grasp that not everyone is like that, and to most people a golliwog is a soft toy without any negative associations. But it is the sneaks themselves who are really contemptible, in trying to stir up hatred where none exists.
As a country we seem to encourage this attitude, and Big Brother thrives on it. The judgmental attitude that is so common in society is quite inimical to true Christianity, whose distinguishing marks are love and forgiveness. Love and forgiveness do not go down well in a society that wants to tell you what to say and what to think.
But the religion of Britain is less and less Christianity and more and more global warming. It is extraordinary that at a time when the global climate has been cooling for at least six years, huge publicity is received for an alarmist who says that carbon dioxide emissions have been increasing even more than had been predicted. No-one seems to ask why, if emissions are increasing hugely and the temperature is falling, it should still be believed that increased CO2 causes warming. It seems to prove that it doesn’t.
But when the country is full of companies that are trying to demonstrate how tiny a carbon footprint they have, it is very difficult to accept that carbon footprints really don’t matter. It seems to be a moral and ethical essential to believe that we are destroying the planet. But what if we’re not? Does the truth matter at all?
A gentleman who modestly calls himself Ethical Man is calling for support through the social networking site Facebook. What he says there typifies the muddled thinking of these 21st century crusaders. He wants to “save the world from climate change”. Doesn’t he know that the climate has always changed and always will? The world does not need to be saved from it. It is an integral part of how the world works. Nor does he seem to realise that carbon dioxide is not a “pollutant”: it is vital to our survival and has a key role in how the world works. Never mind, he’s Ethical Man, and that’s all that really matters. Everyone who does not share his opinions, of course, is Unethical. So they should not be allowed to say anything.
Yes, Big Brother is here, and his colour is sometimes green. He doesn’t like religions that encourage freedom of thought, love and forgiveness. Guilt is his thing, and condemnation. I wonder what George would think about it all.