Lots of people have been getting excited about an article on the BBC website asking whether the UK is a Christian country. As is so often the case, the best reflection on the question has come from Archdruid Eileen. I’ll quote her response in full:
Can we move on now?
My problem with the whole thing is that I consider the notion of a “christian Country” to be pretty bonkers to start with. What on earth is a christian country?
Countries that are supposedly christian have prospered through human slavery, legislated for apartheid and colonised vast swathes of the planet, putting the original inhabitants to the sword. So called Christian countries have not been a good advertisement for Christianity. If true christianity is recognised by its fruit – there is something seriously lacking.
Yes, it is true that there have been christians who have influenced countries for good. Believers were instrumental in getting the slave trade banned in the UK. But what were we doing with a slave trade in the first place, if we were a christian country?
The thing is, it is people who are Christians, not countries. It is conceivable that the majority of a country’s population could be Christian and it is certainly true that many countries have legal and social systems which have been influenced by christian thought and values. It is even true that some countries have Christianity as an official religion – and this is where the rubber hits the road.
You simply cannot legislate for people becoming Christians. The only way to become a Christian is through faith in Christ, but the concept of the christian country tries to create a loophole. You are a christian because you were born in a christian country. This is biblical and theological rubbish, but generations of people in Europe have swallowed the lie in the name of ‘christian civilisation’. Secure in their birth and heritage, they were never required to ask the hard questions about the nature of their own faith.
Calling a nation a christian country does no one any favours, least of all the population of the country involved.