St Bride's: Sermons

Doing God in Today's Marketplace

While England was snow-bound the papers were reporting the case of Nurse Caroline Petrie, who was suspended after she offered to pray for an elderly patient on a home visit. Coincidentally, at much the same time, Tony Blair was addressing the National Prayer Breakfast in America on the importance of religion in public life.

The Petrie case highlights the fact that we now live in an increasingly secular society which, nevertheless, retains vestiges of Christian belief and practice. This makes us uncertain how to respond to the public expression of faith. Many people welcome a recognition of the spiritual dimension to life, but increasingly we are seeing the emergence of a culture of 'thought police' where it is no longer acceptable to express, or practice, Christian belief openly.

Religious faith is not a purely private matter, to be spoken about and exercised behind closed doors. It is a voice in the public square, as Tony Blair affirmed, and while it must take its place in the modern cultural and spiritual market-place, it should be confident and robust enough to speak out on issues of the day with clarity and vigour. In particular, because the Christian faith has been such a formative and influential part of our history, culture and institutions, we should not be ashamed of our privileged position as the Established Church, but celebrate the fact that we are engaged at all levels of civil society in the service of our neighbours.

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