Perhaps the poor do have more to gain from faith then the middle classes, and religion for all its good and bad will not give way to secularism in Africa.
Every person's life has an intrinsic value regardless of circumstance. Whatever they themselves or other people may think of their 'value' to society, and despite any apparent lack of productivity or usefulness, nothing can alter their essential significance as human beings. To agree that some of us are more valuable than others when it comes to being alive would be to cross an ethical Rubicon.
The coldblooded murder of innocent civilians - no matter the nationality or circumstances - is always utterly appalling.
We non-Muslim Brummies can cope with people doubting our existence. God surely can too. Sharing, disagreeing, and gently mocking are the most powerful weapons we have against extremism and bigotry. Familiarity does not breed contempt, it conquers it.
"I haven't seen my daughter since IS took her. I cried and shouted at them - what could they want with a three year old? She's just a child." The desperate mother told me her story as we sat on a cold, damp floor in Iraq in November. At Open Doors we estimate that there are over 100million Christians persecuted for their faith. And each one has a story. Our 2015 World Watch List report, released today, reveals a devastating picture of what is happening to Christians around the globe.
All religions, new and old, should be subject to the same disrespect that Charlie Hedbo so boldly and bravely paid them. As Salman Rushdie, a man who knows a thing or two about this subject, said religion deserves our 'fearless disrespect'. Long may such disrespect, whether it be in Charlie Hedbo or elsewhere, continue.
Now I'm not siding with the 'we brought this on ourselves' lot. What I'm saying is we just haven't got to grips with the fact rapid developments in communications technology and transport have well and truly moved the goalposts.
The journalists and policemen murdered in Paris are the latest tragic victims in an ongoing war of ideas and belief. To win this war theologians must get involved, abandoning relativism and, as blunt as it sounds, take sides.
I won't indulge myself in my own personal problems with the Mass, how the language sounds to my ear a lot like lines Christopher Lee should be spouting whilst dancing around a windswept island in The Wicker Man ('It is right to give Him thanks and praise'), because I'll probably come across exactly as I am. A man who vehemently railed against his indoctrinal upbringing mid-teens when he realised his homosexuality made him, in the Dr Eckleburg eyes of the church, a sinner.
A friend once invited me to help myself to the many books she had become the de facto owner of when she purchased the flat of a very old woman in London's trendy Holland Park. The lady had died alone, a spinster with no descendants. E
Picture this. You gather family and friends of all ages in a large room and ask each person to hold a single, unlit candle. Then you turn out t...
While civilised people everywhere hold up their hands in horror at the massacre of children in Peshawar, Pakistan, we would do well to remember that it is human, not Biblical values, that stand firm against such evil.
On the day I got up as usual, it was still dark, and made breakfast. I prayed the Lord's Prayer - 'give us this day our daily bread!' and asked for strength in fasting as a spiritual exercise. I finished breakfast around 06.30 (discovering later that the fast should began at 05.30, no imam for guidance though I could have researched it better - this was several years ago).
By blindly insisting the creation myth of the Semitic tribes who became the Jewish people is fact - and telling children it is a valid alternative to the Big Bang - evangelical Christians are attributing to God the lack of imagination that cripples their own view of both humanity and the wider universe.
The trouble is that we all tend to think we're a little more well-liked than we are. Therefore, the receiving of a Hallmark offering is often the only validation we have of our self-perceived popularity.
Last week, with little fanfare and under heavy security, an historic meeting took place in Rome which marked a turning point in interfaith relations. Inside the 16th century Casina Pio IV villa, home to the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences, seven clerics representing over five billion people overcame lingering traditions of suspicion to commit to the eradication of modern day slavery by the year 2020.