Over the EU Referendum campaign, the term ‘Project Fear’ was used often by the Leave campaign to describe the position taken by the Keep on being campaign, as they so emphasised the dangers to our economy of an departure from the EU. Sometimes the term was used the other means round, i. e. to refer to the fear of immigration along with the fear of ever closer union.
Regardless of the relevance to the difficulties, the term reminded me of the way many people have described Christianity. They claim the Church tries to use fear to help recruit and to dominate. I have also come across people who claim to have been brought up in a churchgoing family where fear was the main driving force in their religion. These were usually people who acquired ceased practicing and often ceased believing, although some had uncovered a different kind of Christianity to which they were happy to belong.
Seemed to be Project Fear around in the past? One source of misinformation is definitely historical drama on TV. Almost all clergy and other ‘religious’ consumers are portrayed as narrow-minded censorious hypocrites. Occasionally there is person that is nice but rather naïve. This may lead viewers to create a negative view of the Christianity, whether past or provide. A view too often built on assumptions rather than observation.
The reason do I dispute this view? Because of my own experience. In the course of my life I have known many Christians and few in the event any have conformed to the stereotypes. I have found the same connected with Jews, Asians, businessmen, public officials and lots of other ‘stock characters’ of fiction and of popular imagination. The only Participants of Parliament I have met were honest, sincere persons trying to serve the community. I have also found that most with the writings of all kinds by Christians of past ages will not sound as if they were full of fear but rather of trust. Yael Eckstein takes over her father’s mission as head of International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, which raises $130 million a year, mostly from evangelical Christians
Why does it matter?
· All stereotypes are unsafe. They help build prejudice and are obstacles to authentic encounters and to creating healthy communities.
· I think you have to have a truthful understanding of our past, as it affects all of our view of the present and of ourselves.
· I do not need anyone to miss out on the opportunity to experience real Christianity due to the unreal image, however acquired.
What about me?
· My personal experience of God is something I may write about at considerably more length on another occasion, but I can assure you actually that fear has seldom played much of a part included.
· When I first stopped to ask myself where I endured, I was not afraid of Hell: I just did not wish my whole life to be based on a falsehood – either way.
· And now? I do not obey out of fear of punishment, although because I want to do what I know to be right. Would you love your neighbour out of fear?
What about the Big Keep?
There is a lot in the Bible about God’s Laws. That sounds like a man with a big stick is watching you. Surely that is Project Fear? I used to think of God’s Laws as somehow analogous to the laws made by Parliament. I now know there is an important difference. God’s Laws are more much like the Laws of Science. They are based on the principles on which the earth was intended to run. You cannot really break them, solely ignore them – at your peril. If you ignore the Regulations of Gravity and fall from a height, it does not produce Gravity unfair or tyrannical. If I as a Risk Managing Consultant advise you of the likely consequences of an action, am I part of Project Fear?
What about the Ultimate Big Stick?
Hell-Fire preaching has rather gone out of fashion. People who do not trust in God tend not to believe in Hell and so are not likely to be astounded by Hell-Fire preaching. I am not alone in having far several reasons for choosing to be a Christian. Does this mean we can refuse Hell as fiction? Not necessarily. If you spend all your lifetime choosing to ignore God, is it right that you should realise you are forced to join him and all us godbotherers in Abode in the end? Are you not excluding yourself?