Is the British Army a Christian Army?

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by vaeviso, Aug 19, 2007.

?
  1. Yes

    29.5%
  2. No

    36.4%
  3. Neither know nor care

    34.1%

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  1. ... Not in the sense of "do most of its members describe themselves as Christian?", but rather is it a Christian institution? It doesn't declare itself as such (because that would probably be unlawful) but consider the evidence:

    * The Army is loyal to the Queen who is the head of the Church of England and Defender of the Faith.
    * The Army is controlled by Parliament, in the Upper House of which sit the 26 Bishops of the CofE.
    * The Values and Standards of the Army appear tightly entwined with Christian values (not that Christianity can claim them as "all their own work"). However, the Padre always delivers the MATT lecture!
    * Many military ceremonies and traditions have a significant Christian religious element eg Remembrance.

    I reckon that makes the British Army a Christian institution but is it a good thing or a bad thing? A few things make me think "bad thing":

    * We find ourselves involved in two conflicts where the opponent claims to fight for Islam. If we (and the Americans) are characterised as Christian armies, the opponent can claim it is a war between religions and mobilise support from Muslims who wouldn't otherwise have cared less.
    * The religious element dominates military ceremony. The prime example is the Act of Remembrance. It's supposed to be about honouring the sacrifice made by our war dead but instead you're forced to go to Church and spend nearly all the Service enduring hymns, prayers and Scripture that only honour God, not the war dead. Acts of Memorial are another example. The default setting is a church service led by the Padre. What have hymns got to do with remembering and honouring a fallen comrade?
    * It makes the Army a weird and irritating place if you happen not to be a Christian! For example, how many of you in training were marched to Church on Sunday and told that you could either attend or spend the time on the drill square? Personally I attended - never one to the miss the opportunity to knock some zzz's out!

    I'm not bashing personal faith or the right to practise it. I'm not knocking the invaluable pastoral care that Army Padres provide. I just find it bizarre that an organisation that is otherwise so earthly bound is entwined with something so irrational as a particular brand of faith. In my view it should be a secular Army.

    PS I nicked this idea off RichardDawkins.net so credit to Charlie Big Potato. Given the low response though it seems that not many arrsers have found their way there yet!

    PPS Let's try not to go down the "there are no atheists in foxholes" path because there are.
     
  2. I dunno. Did Jesus have an Army?

    It seems Christianity is anything but the teachings of Jesus. I'll just leave it as that. I personally don't think it's a Christian Army, unlike our Islamic freinds who definitely do have Islamic Armies bound to defending the Islamic faith, the British Army does not seem to be religiously tied like that, the Bishop stuff and all that seems to be all tradition, not actuality.

    If that made sense.
     
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  3. The Army has many faiths in it. The British Army is the British Army not the British Christian & others Army.

    I think it's wrong to "brand" the British Army as Christian.
     
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  4. Jimbojetset picks self off floor...... Would that be a muslim/islamic army as well?
     
  5. I disagree (from an outsider's perspective) that the Army can be called "Christian" as opposed to "secular." Certainly we have Christian elements to our memorial services, because Britain is a Christian country-it is our state religion. I imagine there are similar provisions for pastoral and religious well-being in the Turkish armed forces, an avowedly secular institution. The Queen and the Lords Spiritual to whom you refer do, I think, have very little actual power, after all there are 713 Lords in total. Britian, in my own humble opinion is one of the few countries to get the church/state balance right.

    The Christian/ Muslim confrontation you speak of is, I think, one of a number of marginal reasons for the mobilisation of jihadists. Much more horrific to them are "Western values" and our supposed decadence (they must have been reading NAAFI bar again!) THe vitriol poured out at us is much more to do with The Great Satan and his "imperialist plans" to take over the Middle East than it is to do with our Christian heritage, though no doubt this is used as a recruiting tool.

    Dudders
     
  6. Which raises the question of whether the C of E is a Christian religion. It's so weak and wishy-washy now, so impregnated with guitar strumming vicars in jeans, so obsessed with homosexuality, so much in thrall to the British state, that there's a strong argument that it doesn't really believe in anything, let alone Christianity.

    And if the C of E isn't a religion, let alone a Christian one, then problem solved: the British Army can't be a Christian Army.

    But one thing it does do is represent modern day Britain: secular, capitalist, largely Anglo-Saxon, wealthy, liberal (small L) loosely democratic. That's quite enough for even moderate Muslims to hate it and fight it should it occupy their land.
     
  7. I don't think that is quite right. Britain is technically a secular state, despite the anomoly of the Lords Spiritual. Christianity is (according to the 2001 census) the majority faith in the UK but Christianity is not the state religion. England has a state faith - CofE - but this is governed by the General Synod under the authority of Parliament. The Prime Minister selects the Archbishop of Canterbury for example (for the moment at least). The upshot is that, ignoring the Bishops, Parliament makes the law not the Church. That makes Britain secular, but does not mean that the Church (CoFE in particular) does not have a disproportionate and undeserved level of influence in the life of the Nation.
     
  8. Seeing as for lot of its establishment over the 300 odd years it was made up of non Christians it would be hard to call it Christian,
     
  9. As a secular nation how exactly does the Church these days have any influence at all?
    None of our laws are handed down by the church, in fact a lot of our laws are frowned upon if not outright banned by the Christian church.

    Plus if the church does have a level of influence is this necessarily a bad thing? The church is supposed to teach moral values that most people would agree are a good thing and no one else in society bothers teaching these things.

    As to the Army being a christian army? Probably yes but only in so far as the morality and beliefs of the members run parallel to christian beliefs.
     
  10. Where shall I start? The Bishops are the most obvious example. They rarely block legislation as an organised body because they are well aware of the precariousness of their position. You can be as sure as hell that they lobby the rest of the Upper Chamber as hard as they dare though. Continued public funding for religious schools is a clear example of where they exert their influence.

    Of course, the Church doesn't need to publically exert influence at all if you can get a believer into the top job. Tony Blair admitted on numerous occasions that he was guided by his faith ("God will be his judge" on whether he was right on Iraq) and we know Gordon Brown is another big believer (hence bye bye super casinos).

    Where else? How about the BBC? "Prayer for the Day" and "Thought by the Day" on Radio 4 are established by BBC Charter (passed by Parliament) to permit only faith views - you can't get on if you don't subscribe to the supernatural.

    The list goes on and on.

    Finally, the church is supposed to minister to the spiritual needs of those who share the same brand of belief. It takes it upon itself to be the moral guardian of the nation.
     
  11. Ok so they influence in much the same way as any other interest group go about it except they are a bit better at it having had more practice.

    You will probably find that the vast majority of civilised peoples follow christian* morals whether they proffess to believing in the teachings of the church or not, so the church pushing and reinforcing this morality can only be a good thing?

    * as claimed by the christian church of course, not saying that the church of the invisible pink unicorn or whatever belief system you adhere to doesn't have much the same ideas but the church has prior claim to a lot of what we now call civilized behaviour.
     
  12. Agreed with Dudders on the point about a good balance between Church/State.
    While it is good for the men in frocks to speak out when those muppets in parliament attempt to pass some crazy law that goes against the moral majority. May the Middle East be a good example of what happens when you religious extreems are in power!

    Good link Bugly, a well balanced page
     
  13. There's an example closer to home. The Republic of Ireland was a wretched God-intoxicated s***hole until the mid 1980s and the EC money flushed in, kick starting the 'Celtic Tiger' financial revolution. Culturally it would have been impossible even to show 'Father Ted' on TV until relatively recently, such was the stranglehold of the Church. But now the whole nation laughs. It’s no coincidence that the Good Friday Agreement coincided with that sudden wealth and secularism.

    The lesson for Muslim countries is obvious: flush the places with wealth, educate the kids, create a large, self-confident middle class and you end up bollocking the priests. If people are happy and healthy and watching Sky on a widescreen they won't be setting off IEDs.
     
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  14. Unless somebody can define what a "Christian army" is, there's no way of answering the question.
     
  15. So given that 24% of the Army says that it's Roman Catholic, does the Pope get a say in it too?