I would not have voted in favour of bombing Syria. ISIL/Daesh is a source of evil, of this I have no doubt. But for me the case for bombing is not proven. Some, including some I greatly respect, say that the traditional Christian criteria for a Just War have been fulfilled. But I cannot agree. Across the world I see the the political reflex to seek quick popularity through warmongering talk, and I abhor it. I believe there is a better way. In the season of the coming of the Prince of Peace let's try and find it together.
At the heart of Christmas is the Bethlehem babe, who later went on to preach that we are to love our neighbours as ourselves. Not instead of ourselves or despite ourselves but as ourselves. The all-inclusive love Jesus was teaching, therefore, includes the call to each of us to look after "number one", too.
There already seems a lack of expertise among some of those who commission TV programmes about religion and ethics. In a recent video aimed at programme-makers which claims to explain the BBC's Religion strategy for BBC One. It doesn't mention religion until 25 seconds from the end!
Ceasing to look ever backwards in that way, coming to terms instead with a very different present reality, and planning for a more cohesive future society on the basis of that will take us all - religious and humanist alike - well out of our comfort zones. But it is an essential task. The strikingly diverse Commission that produced today's report has taken that first step forward. Hopefully public authorities and governments across the UK will continue that journey.
Religion and belief are driving forces in society today. Although there is some divergence of opinion over the extent, there is unanimity that the UK is becoming less Christian, less religious and more diverse. Whilst we are not about to return to a time when religion and religious authorities dominated, these changes raise issues that have to be urgently addressed.
You see, I grew up in a church for most of my life, apart from a few 'wilderness years' that all Christians seems to wander through in a Pilgrims Progress kind of way. Having always been in a church or Christian environment I have an idea as to what I think a Pastor should look like. Kind, patient, wise, understanding, slow to judge etc.
our elected representatives want and that's how democracy works. We are already bombing. Maybe it's the 'right' thing to do; I don't know. But I do know that if you support this, then you can't call yourself a Christian. It's as simple as that.
The Sun's front page poll last Monday claiming that one in five British Muslims have sympathy for Jihadis was widely scorned and ridiculed, and rightly so, for its dubious methodology and all round misleadingness.
Nothing can ever justify an extremist taking an innocent life, particularly one who does so in the name of Islam. However, without a commitment to change deeply ingrained behaviours in our international approach, extremism is here to stay.
The Sun may have hoped Monday's front page would encourage the kind of frank and open debate that Sadiq Khan was calling for. Instead they have risked furthering the cultural division which prevents this kind of dialogue from happening.
One thing is clear: radicalisation doesn't happen in a vacuum. The bullies who seek to twist and darken the souls of confused young men (and they are largely young, and men) prey on this, pouring poison into their ears.
Since the horrific attacks last Friday I've seriously been thinking about what my hijab means. I first wore it because I believed it was the spiritual thing to do. After many years, a little more knowledge and a diverse group of friends I wonder how spiritual the practice actually is.
I disagree with their decision and I disagree with the reasons they have given. I hope it's reversed. I don't believe the film will offend or upset audiences, in the way they mean, and I don't believe it creates a new precedent. But from the point of view of global corporations and consumer culture, from the perspective of the gods and spirits of the age, there are very good reasons indeed to ban the Lord's Prayer from cinemas and from culture and from public life...
The week has just begun but we have already new polling-related controversy to get stuck into. The Sun's front page today cites a poll by Survation of British Muslims and their attitudes towards terrorism and Syria... The question is asked with reference to "fighters". Many (if not most) people will be aware that there are a number of groups fighting in Syria of which the "Jihadis" are just one. Because the question doesn't mention any group(s) directly, those fighting against IS/ISIS/ISIL/Daesh could also fall within the respondent's interpretation of the question.
It wouldn't be Christmas without ads for everything including food, furniture, perfume, toys, Coca-Cola, John Lewis and, of course, the Church of England. Even though we forget between Christmases, the Church of England has a long history of festive ad campaigns and this year's ad is a classic PR stunt.
The Church of England is threatening to take legal action against the company who place adverts in UK cinemas because they have declined to show an advert featuring the Lord's Prayer.