Words from ‘The Men Behind the Wire’, the anti-internment song from the 1970s expressed the deep resentment felt by Irish Republicans at there being British troops on the streets of Belfast. The name of ‘Cromwell’ was enough to evoke stories of slaughter and oppression in centuries past.
Cromwell’s men came in the 17th century with a religious totalitarianism and a military might to enforce it; their rule was as oppressive as that of the Catholic Church in medieval times. There could be no tolerance of dissent, there could be no place for any theology apart from their own.
There are those who would like to have been amongst Cromwell’s men, those who would love to have had the opportunity to enforce their own brand of dour Protestant fundamentalism. Amongst them, I suspect would be the man who creeps up to our gate under the cover of darkness and leaves leaflets in our letter box.
This morning’s offering was not as poisonous as yesterday’s simple piece of sectarian hatred against Catholics, which would be worthy of being handed to the Garda with a complaint under the Prohibition of Incitement To Hatred Act, 1989, if it were not for the fact that it would give the obviously troubled soul status as a ‘martyr’ amongst his fellow travellers.
Today it was a straightforward piece of fundamentalist spirituality, ‘religion does not save you’. Well, actually, the only people who are saying it does is themselves. Who is it that insists on repeatedly reciting the same texts in Seventeenth Century English?
The publisher was again North American. When checking its website, there was a Cromwellian chill. What sort of society is dreamt of by the writer of a piece in tolerance?
I believe in Christian charity, but I do not believe at all in Christian tolerance. The person who hates the name of Jesus, who believes that He was not the Son of God but an imposter, deserves charity on our part. l believe in Christian charity, but I do not believe in the weak tolerance that we hear preached so often now – the idea that Jesus must tolerate everyone and that the Christian must tolerate every kind of doctrine. I do not believe it for one minute, for there are no dozen “rights.” There is only one “right.” There is but one Jesus and one God and one Bible.
There is only one ‘right’, and there would be no prizes for guessing whose ‘right’ it would be.
In a society where there is only one version of the ‘truth’, any deviation from that ‘truth’ must be heresy and must be suppressed – any science or philosophy that is not in accord with that ‘truth’ must be wrong and must not be allowed. It is the language of those who opposed Galileo and those who opposed Darwin; it is a worldview that would take us back into the Middle Ages. It is those of such views who opposed Jesus in the first place.
I will catch the deliverer of the tracts eventually and share with him how wonderful it is that we live in a diverse society where we allow freedom of thought and scientific progress; how wonderful it is that he has freedom to leave things in my letter box and I have the freedom to put them into the recycling bin. I cannot imagine he would know ‘The Men Behind the Wire’.