How Christians are still being killed for their faith
One of my most enjoyable Halloweens was in Las Vegas two years ago when I joined hundreds of people wearing amazing fancy dress costumes, in a way which only the Americans know how.
There were many remarkable outfits but, strikingly, few of the witches and ghoulish creatures with which we associate our Halloween back home.
We seem to have a love for the darker side of evil spirits and ghosts, but I am not too worried about this. Halloween is essentially a party, rather than a theological statement, and these 'forces of darkness' are now making way for the new 'light of Christmas'.
Indeed, one could argue that this year the Christmas spirit was evident long before Halloween. In the one afternoon, I saw my first Christmas tree in Marks and Spencer's in Newtownabbey and on the way home I drove past a large billboard outside Pastor McConnell's Metropolitan Tabernacle which was advertising a special Christmas concert on December 13.
What worries me more about the battle between light and darkness on a global scale is the way in which the Western nations including the United Kingdom are steadily eroding the Christian religion in their rush towards secularism and so-called religious diversity. I am also deeply worried about the all-out assault on Christians by militant Islam in many parts of the world. This week a senior judge in London, Sir James Munby, announced that the UK's courts are no longer 'Christian' and that they must serve a multi-cultural community with many faiths.
I have no trouble with the latter concept in a truly multi-cultural society, but successive British governments have failed to integrate multiculturalism properly, with the result that people in some of our differing cultures still remain totally apart from one another. I was also surprised by the assertion of Sir James Munby that today's judges have abandoned their claims to be "guardians of public morality". How odd! I thought that judges were still the guardians of right and wrong, and that a large part of our legal code is founded on the historic principles of Christianity.
Clearly I am not part of the new self-absorbed generation which thinks that anything goes in our modern secular society. This secularisation has now reached the stage where even the Girl Guides no longer can take an oath to 'love my God', and they will now be required to promise 'to be true to myself and develop my beliefs', whatever that means. What utter New Age nonsense!
Almost every day there is a new secular initiative, including an announcement this week by a television presenter who wants to stage a 'humanist' Remembrance Day.
The churches have not been blameless in their past, and often in the present as well, but I do not believe that they should be dismissed so derisively in the current objective to airbrush Christianity out of our national picture. The situation is much worse abroad, and I noted in The Spectator recently that, according to the International Society for Human Rights, 80% of acts of religious discrimination worldwide are against Christians.
The magazine states: "From India to Nigeria, from Burma to North Korea, people are being killed for their Christian beliefs; one study puts the average kill rate over the past decade at 100,000 a year."
Despite this undeserved marginalisation and persecution of Christianity, I am also intrigued to hear that some humanists and atheists are now planning get-togethers for mutual support, just like Christians in Sunday church services.
God must be quietly chuckling to himself today. 'Even the GirlGuides can no longer take anoath to God'