Orwell taught us that if you control the language you control the thoughts, and that leads ultimately to control of society. The lesson has been well learned.
Jesse Jackson, one time civil rights campaigner and now professional race baiter and experienced language manipulator, put it clearly: "When a photographer takes a picture, he or she decides what is in the picture, and what is left out, what is highlighted and what is blurred. Two photographers shooting the same scene can create totally different images of it. The same is true with issues. If you have the power to define an issue, you go a long way to determining what is relevant and what is not. In doing that, you can have a huge effect on who wins and who loses."
Yesterday Christians were the losers. We were told quite clearly that putting into practice our Christian convictions is out of the question if it can possibly be construed as upsetting the sensitivities of any politically powerful minority.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that wearing a small cross is permissible under certain limited conditions.
"wearing a small cross is permissible under certain limited conditions"
If, however, as in the case of Shirley Chaplain, a local health authority decides that a small cross which has been worn at work for thirty years without incident or comment suddenly constitutes a significant health and safety hazard then goodbye cross.
Whilst we can be glad for Nadia Eweida, the BA employee censured for wearing a tiny cross who did win her case, it has to be faced that yesterday saw no victory for Christians. The vast majority of practicing Christians, we don't mean the David Cameron weddings and carol services only type, would never dream of wearing a cross. The only circumstances under which many would wear a cross would be if the government said that we couldn't.
Due to the ECHR rulings in the other two cases Christians can now be legally excluded from certain sectors of employment or social activity. Gary McFarlane and Lillian Ladele both lost their cases for wrongful dismissal after being disciplined for asking to opt out of giving sexual counselling to homosexuals or conducting civil partnership ceremonies. Their respective employers made no attempt to accommodate their beliefs or to work around them. Compliance had to be absolute. The court agreed with the intolerant employers.
To express opposition to homosexual marriage is to become potentially unemployable by a local council or charity. If Christian teachers in a state school have scruples about teaching that homosexual marriage is compatible with biblical teaching will they have any defence against being sacked? If potential foster or adoptive parents state that they will bring children up in a Christian home will they be allowed to care for children?
Ministers and priests still have freedom, within the doctrinal stance of their denominations, to preach and teach what they will in their churches. However, if they wish to work as chaplains in industry, hospitals or prisons they had better not voice biblical opposition to the latest progressive tool for the restructuring of society.
"no place for [Christians] in the public square"
We have allowed progressives to frame the debate in terms of freedom of worship when the debate is actually about freedom of religion. The ruling, which is in accord with the prevailing progressive ethos, says that Christians can do what they want within their churches, as long as it doesn't offend any sensitive souls, but they cannot carry their faith into their daily lives.
We have freedom of worship and can meet in buildings and sing hymns and pray. We cannot, however, come out of those buildings and allow our faith to inform how we live our daily lives. We do not have freedom of religion.
Yesterday's rulings are another step towards marginalising the Christian faith and turning it into a private hobby. In the eyes of the ECHR Christianity is akin to train spotting or embroidery, interesting if you like that sort of thing but with little impact on the day to day world.
We know who won and who lost, what is allowed to be in the picture and what is left out. Christians are once again being told by the progressive establishment that there is to be no place for us in the public square.
Rev. Campbell Campbell-Jack
is a Church of Scotland parish minister at Possilpark Parish Church in Glasgow.
See also article: 'Is the church heading underground?'