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It behoves us to take care n our use of words. As anyone experiencing the truly dreadful referendum campaign in the UK can bear witness, constant scaremongering just devalues the currency, and we all know what happened to the boy who cried wolf when the wolf finally turned up. So, to talk about the persecution of Christians in the West when many of our fellow Christians are losing their lives in Africa, China and the Middle East, is something to be done with extreme care. Nasty words in the press and a general lack of respect are not to be spoken of in the same breath, but, that does not mean there is a not something akin to a bloodless persecution going on.

I have detailed on this blog in the past several cases where street preachers have been arrested by over-officious policemen, and we know that in addition to those Catholic adoption agencies which have closed rather than comply with the Government’s drive on same-sex marriage and adoption, many simply changed their names and went along with it – that is of course in the Apostolic spirit – of Judas Iscariot that is. If Christians do not accept the new definition of marriage and do not comply with these laws, then they have to expect to take the consequences; but since we are not to comply with unjust laws which contravene the word of God, we have not choice. That is one form of bloodless persecution.

It is, naturally, fine for ageing rock stars to refuse to provide their services to areas where they disagree with local government policy on what the Americans call ‘bathrooms’; but woe betide a baker who exercises the same freedom in his business. While we might think ‘hate speech’ should be banned (as it happens, I don’t, but I am in a small minority, it seems, of believers in real free speech), we should be careful since preaching the Gospel can be so defined. We have already had one Student Christian Union banned from campus because it offends gay people, and doubtless, given ‘generation snowflake’s‘ notoriously thin skin, there will be more such. Before we all concur in banning ‘extremism’ it would be as well to remember that the ‘thought police’ (as one police chief has described it) have already shown an interest in those street preachers I referred to earlier. There is no agreed definition of either hate speech or extremism, and anyone who thinks they will not be applied to Christians spreading the Good News is living in a fantasy world.

Many Christians will no doubt do what some of those Catholic agencies did, and quietly go along with the new order of things, but the demographics in Europe give cause for concern. ‘Low fertility rates’ (aka contracepting and aborting your way out of existence) see our population falling are bound to see a decline in the number of Christians and a rise in the number of Muslims. But the optimistic figures from the respected Pew Research Centre from just over a year ago now look ludicrously optimistic with the influx of refugees into the Continent in the past year. So, we can hardly expect the climate to improve with regard to Christianity.

All we can do is to continue to live according to the Gospel and spread it as best we can. But I think my grandchildren’s generation may pass a severe verdict on our stewardship.