Biblical comment on English city riots

10 August 2011

Yet again, David Cameron is playing catch-up - this time over the English city riots.

The Christians Together website gives a paraphrase of Isaiah 3 and 4 which speaks timeously to UK society at this time of lawlessness.

Boris Johnston, with an eye to the next mayoral election, has broken ranks with David Cameron and Theresa May, the home secretary, and called for more police on the streets of London.

The political right and the political left have their own analysis and solution.

The Scottish Christian Party has its analysis and solution.  It is less law and more Gospel which UK society needs.  A recent BBC documentary demonstrated that Muhammad used religion in his attempt to bring peace to the warring factions of Arabia in his day.  He used the sense of divine accountability to forge a new religion to stabilise the region.  As the documentary showed, muslims soon forgot his council and forged a religion of their own.  British society has forgotten Christianity and forged a religion of its own.  This lack of the sense of sin and personal accountability is a cancer eating away at the bowels of our society.  Even when the current rioting settles down, the ungodly spirit of such people remains and is not being addressed.  Stopping the violence is not enough; changing their spirit by the Gospel is needed, and it is very much cheaper than all the ‘programs’ devised at tax payers’ expense.

David Cameron says our society is broken and sick – rather it is ungodly.  He speaks of a fight-back, talking tough of rubber bullets and water cannon, which the police say that they do not need, instead of addressing the nation in measured tones.  The nation needs calm reassurance instead of an angry, scolding headmaster trying to make out that he is in control.  He does not have the charisma nor the rapport with the nation needed from a leader in such a situation.

He says the root cause is a complete lack of responsibility, thinking that one’s rights outweigh one’s responsibilities, and not considering the consequences of one’s actions.  So how does he propose giving them this sense of responsibility?  Schoolmastery tones will not do it.  What expensive government programme will be proposed?  Commentators have highlighted the young age of the rioters, gang culture, poor parenting, high levels of youth unemployment, materialism and consumerism.  David Cameron said that if they are old enough to commit crime, they are old enough to face the punishment and “feel the full force of the law”.  What about the full force of parental discipline which has been neutered by recent legislation?  Who is responsible for children’s behaviour – themselves, their parents or society?  If priority number one is making our streets safe again, why not take pre-teenage children off the streets at night, improve community watch, and scale down our night time economy?

The solution is proposed before
the diagnosis.  Blame can be apportioned left, right and centre.  What about the attitudes in society as a whole, the role models of those in public life?  Why blame only the looters and rioters?  Why blame politicians?  Are bankers and the credit crunch not also responsible?  Why do we talk about it now?  Because the public feel threatened.  This is the “my back yard” phenomenon; not love for my neighbour.  Saving my skin instead of saving my neighbour’s soul.  When the rioting settles down, will it be business as usual, just as the bankers have gone back to their bonus culture?  We are talking around the subject - we need to face the fact that young, middle-aged and old are sinners, and different sins manifest themselves in different ways.  We are all in this together.  Rioting and looting is only one aspect of our sinful society - not simply pockets in society as David Cameron’s self-righteous “us and them” mentality would isolate it.

This is a serious problem.  Public order tactics cannot contain, disperse and arrest these numbers of rioters and looters - yet the potential for escalation is very great when one considers that our Facebook revolution spread from city to city in a few days, inciting rioters.  In 1831 there were hundreds of thousands rioting, and currently we have a powderkeg as big if not bigger waiting to erupt.  Prior to the General Election in 2010 Nick Clegg said that if the Tories were elected there would be riots on our streets.  He was hinting at this powderkeg.

The death of a young man in Tunisia in 2010 led to the Facebook revolution in the Arab countries.  The death of a young man in Britain in 2011 has led to our Facebook riots.  It is time to face the Book which can help us - the Bible which declares the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, Whose death and resurrection as a young man changed and will continue to change the lives of young and old alike, give hope to the hopeless, and change our society for the better.

Related Stories

  • more law or more Gospel?
  • misplaced diagnosis and solutions
  • agreed problem but no diagnosis
  • pre-teen curfew community watch.  We need mothers at home and fathers who discipline.
  • wider curfex powers at last proposed, in the heat of the moment.  What value now is the media mockery of the SCP proposals made in the calm light of day?
  • Tony Blair wants a more focused diagnosis.  “Focus on the specific problem and we can begin on a proper solution.”
  • Updates:

  • Inadequate police response and public loss of confidence in policing.  28 Nov 2011
  • Police over-reaction 26 Sep 2011