ISIS will win if we don’t defend Christianity

“No civilisation has ever prevailed if it does not believe in, and affirm, its own values”, writes Mary Kenny

Responding to the atrocities that occurred in Tunisia, the British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged that “we will not allow our culture to be destroyed” by jihadism. “We must be stronger at standing up for our values…peace, democracy, tolerance, freedom,” he wrote. “To our shock and grief we must add another word: resolve. Unshakable resolve.”

This is a good and right response, as far as it goes. No civilisation has ever prevailed if it does not believe in, and affirm, its own values.

The threat of death, suffering and destruction from jihadist Islam is very real. The fear of another strike must surely lurk for every holiday-maker travelling to lands over which this shadow falls.

But the anxiety that jihadism will be victorious is a real one too. For it is drawing in the young, all over. Mild-sounding locations such as Dewsbury in Yorkshire are now targeted as a recruiting area for young people seeking to commit to ISIS, whose aim is to spread the caliphate – Islamic rule – universally.

The weapons which recruit the young are not, initially, those of violence – but the power of ideas.

What modern politicians often forget, in their call to defend our values, is the deposit of history. And the deposit of history, in all European societies, is formed from Christianity.

Europe was once called ‘Christendom’. If any politician will defend European values, they must defend the traditions of Christianity.

“If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgotten,” says Psalm 137.

But politicians do forget: they call for vague, generalised aspirations such as “democracy” and “peace” – instead of affirming the historical values embedded in faith and fatherland.


Standing by the faith of our fathers

It may be an incongruous step from the terror of ISIS to the current debate about changing the Angelus on RTÉ. But there is a link.

It is reported that RTÉ is considering changing the title of the Angelus “to try and distance the bells from the Catholic faith”.

The Angelus bell has rung on Irish radio – and subsequently TV – since 1950: but it was heard in Irish monasteries for at least 700 years before that.

During the Penal Times, no Catholic church bell could be sounded at all.

Of course there must be adaptation to change. We don’t travel around by horseback or donkey cart any more. The Angelus today is in a different context than it would have been in the great monastic period, or, as that wonderful painting by Jean-François Millet shows (above), when most people toiled in the fields.

But the past is still there, in the deposit of our culture, and, we must stand by what it has meant. The mewlings and moanings of Atheist Ireland must be met with this imprescriptible argument from history and heritage. This was the faith of our fathers and mothers – who suffered and endured because of it – and we are standing by it.

Irish Protestants and Jews have shown respect for the Angelus, and perfectly accept that it is deeply woven into Irish history and culture.


Showing appreciation for teachers

The gift shops in our town are presently awash with cards, presents, and a variety of fancy goods bearing such messages as “Thank You Teacher”, “King of the Class”, and “To a Wonderful Teaching Assistant”.

In one way, it’s nice to see teachers appreciated, and it’s canny of the merchandising folks to spot a market for this.

But it must be mortifying for those teachers who don’t get showered with gushing gifts at the end of term.

And do some parents seek to curry favour with the teaching staff in a popular school?

Perish the thought!