There was a rather cheesy poster around when I was a student; "If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?"
On Thursday night (Oct 6th) we hosted an event organised jointly with Ekklesia, called Faith and Resistance to the War on Terror. (Read more and find the link to the podcast here; blogpost)
It was a moving and challenging evening. And one of the tings that stays with me is this being convicted thing. It was said during the evening that such an event could not be held in a mosque, because of the fear of the anti-terrorism legislation. And as a church, we were approached by CO15, which is Counter Terrorism Command, to "suggest" we might not want to hold the event.
Listen to the podcast, and see if you can work out why there was this reaction - just how inflammatory (or not!) the evening was.
As you listen, you will hear about the impact of the Prevent legislation. And if you want to know more about it, look here Prevent One of the chilling things in the discussion was when Chris Coles, who works with Drone Wars, and has on several occasions been arrested and imprisoned for peace protests commented that had his children spoken about the things that he was involved in, nobody would have been concerned - but young children of Muslim homes are being removed form their families because they have said or done something that has led people to assume that they are in danger of being "radicalised" And a young Muslim teacher asked what she, as a hijab-wearer was supposed to make of "advice" that if a young woman at school started to wear a hijab, having not done so before, she was to be seen as at risk, and action was to be taken....
Young people who take their religion seriously are being pressured, because it has become assumed that to be a "serious" or " committed" Muslim automatically equates to being a terrorist.
And this is enough to get youngsters brought under surveillance, pressured to think differently, taken away from their homes
I'm not naive. I know there are people who are a danger to our city and our country. I know that we live with a high level of threat. I know there are people in our country who want to see the downfall of our current way of life.
But I am also remember that I was baptised at 14 - at the age that many of these youngsters are when they are coming under this pressure not to be too radical in their devotion to their faith.
And I know that in our own history, getting baptised as a believer rather than an infant was enough to lead to being banished, sometimes to being executed. This is not a story we know nothing about.
At the front of the church, we have a sign that says we stand in solidarity with our Jewish and Muslim neighbours.
What does that mean in the face of Prevent legislation - just because it would not convict me, does that mean I should not be paying attention to it? And if I should be paying attention to it, what shape and impact should that attention have?
We stand in a radical tradition - what does this require of us now?