Christianity in this country has been retreating for a century. Many younger Britons have never been inside a church and have little grasp of Christian scriptures and beliefs.
At the same time, several other creeds have grown in vigour. Some now fear to assert our own ancient faith, in the mistaken belief that Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus will be offended if they do.
So the suggestion that we should end the practice of centuries and stop asking witnesses to swear on The Bible in court cannot be laughed off as a bit of radical mischief. The time may not be far off when it is acted upon.
‘The suggestion that we should stop asking witnesses to swear on The Bible cannot be laughed off…’
Those behind the idea, magistrates themselves, have observed witnesses treating the process with baffled contempt. In what way are they bound by a promise they do not take seriously?
The forebears of these witnesses would have trembled at the thought of lying on oath. For them, perjury was a dreadful weight on the conscience.
For many today, ‘perjury’ and ‘conscience’ are empty words. The clear threat of prison if they are caught in falsehoods will have a far greater effect on them – but only if they seriously believe they will be found out.
This is precisely why it will matter, if we cease to be a Christian country. Conscience, reinforced by religion, reaches into the secret corners where CCTV is blind, and DNA testing useless.
It is particularly good at restraining those crimes which are hard to detect and hard to prove.
Do we really want this to be a society where outward threats must increasingly replace inward self-control?
If Christian leaders in this country wish to preserve their position, they would do well to explain that this is the choice before us.
The people’s press
The long wrangle over press regulation, triggered by the phone-hacking scandal, is now approaching its climax. On Wednesday a sub-committee of the Privy Council will begin to consider rival proposals for the way forward.
The difference between them is not – as some still believe – strength or weakness. Both contain severe penalties for wrongdoing. It is over whether the State should have any role in the process.
The Mail on Sunday, which last week apologised unreservedly for intruding on a memorial for Ed Miliband’s uncle, believes absolutely that newspapers should admit their errors and put them right.
But misdeeds should not be used as a pretext to tame Fleet Street. Once politicians insert themselves into the process of press regulation, they will by their nature seek to squash and dilute legitimate criticism and exposure.
So we here reassert that an open and confident press is essential for the public good, to protect the people from the arrogance, greed, corruption and incompetence of unchecked power.
In fighting against ill-conceived reorganisation of A&E departments, in exposing the propaganda of climate zealots – and in dozens of other ways – this is what we do.
It is in the long-term interests of nation and people that we should remain unfettered by the State.
The Soviet dictator Stalin used to have his rivals removed from official pictures, as if they had never been.
The parliamentary Tory Party, less reprehensibly but still rather naughtily, has inserted MPs in its group photo who were not actually there.
Perhaps they need some sort of regulator, to keep an eye on them.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-2446241/MAIL-ON-SUNDAY-COMMENT-If-lose-bible-lose-conscience.html#ixzz2gwn8wbln
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