The words of one of the Easter readings last week seemed appropriate today, on Saint George’s Day. In Acts Chapter 10, Saint Paul says, Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favouritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”
God doesn’t show favouritism, it’s more than just a theological point, it’s important to understanding what is needed for a healthy society.
Back in Lent, there was a diocesan study programme on ‘Welcoming the stranger’, one of the questions it asked was, “Do you think an outward-looking church will make a difference compared to an inward-looking one?
The answer to the question was obviously ‘yes’ if people look out and see things they find attractive. However, if they look out and feel threatened, or feel that their own culture is not being treated as of equal value, then problems will arise.
I read a book two years ago called ‘The Likes of Us: A Biography of the White Working-Class’. It begins with a quote from a publication that lists all the different communities living in a part of London, all except for one, the ordinary white working-class people. The writer of the book, Michael Collins talks of the sense of exclusion felt by people whose culture and traditions are being treated as of no value.
If we concern ourselves with those from outside, to the exclusion of people in our own community, then we will create problems for the future. It is equality that Saint Paul urges, not favouritism; all communities must be cherished equally.
On a weekend when opinion polls in England showed support for the BNP running as high as 7%, it’s important that Paul’s words are taken very seriously.