The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Europe's Eradication of Christianity

It's really remarkable that the continent that owes its place in history to its Christian roots is now trying to eradicate all signs of Christianity. The process is sometimes blatant and sometimes subtle, but it continues nevertheless. 

Two major European businesses recently joined the effort when they apparently realized that some of their products were wrapped in packaging that displayed tiny Christian crosses. Lidl, the huge  German retailer, has its own brand of Greek-style food. Its packaging depicts a scene from the island of Santorini that includes the famous Anastasis Church. As you might expect the domes of the church are topped with crosses. It seems that Lidl, after suffering with the crosses for more than ten years, decided to alter the packaging and remove these Christian symbols. The company, after receiving many, many complaints, responded with an interesting statement:

Santorini Church with Crosses (former packaging)
"We are extremely sorry for any offence caused by the most recent artwork and would like to reassure our customers that this is not an intentional statement...In light of this we will ensure that all feedback is taken into consideration when redesigning future packaging.”

Lidl packaging without those pesky crosses
One can only wonder how the airbrushing of the crosses could be anything but intentional. As an amateur photographer who often "doctors" my photographs, I can state without question that the crosses did not disappear accidentally. And notice that Lidl does not intend to replace the crosses. No, in the future "feedback will be taken into consideration" -- whatever that means. The company then added:
“We avoid the use of religious symbols on our packaging to maintain neutrality in all religions. If it has been perceived differently, we apologize to those who may have been shocked.”
Of course such neutrality is a new policy in line with the general trend in Europe, a policy that is hardly shocking 

Nestle, the Swiss conglomerate, also depicted the Santorini church on packaging for its Greek yogurt. Not to be outdone by Lidl, the company followed suit and removed the church's crosses from the packaging. It claimed that the crosses might offend the "sensibilities" of those who are not Christian.
New Nestle packaging (without crosses)
The Greek Orthodox Church is unhappy with the actions taken by Lidl and Nestle and has called for a boycott of their products. We'll see if that results in further changes.

The trend, however, has reached down even to the local government level. In the UK a local council tossed a rare bookseller from a marketplace because she sold coffee mugs that might offend the sensibilities of Muslims. The bookseller, Tina Gayle, is upset and says she's never had a Muslim complain to her about any of the products she sells. (Read the story here.)

The mugs contained an image that reflected the Knights Templar and also included the famous verse from the beginning of Psalm 115, in Latin:

“Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam"  [Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory]
The Knights Templar were an interesting order of monkish knights, formed to protect Christian pilgrims travelling to the Holy Land. They were actually quite heroic, but were treated abominably by the royals of France and others. I tend to look on them favorably, something which, happily, is extremely irritating to politically correct progressives. (I also want one of those mugs.) But I can't see how a coffee mug and a psalm would offend Muslims or anyone else, unless they are history deniers. Anyway I'm really tired of all those folks who get so offended by speech  or writings or pictures or attitudes they don't like. Grow up people. If you disagree with something, learn how to defend that with which you agree.

By the way, if you'd like to read more about the Knights Templar, pick up a copy of Regine Pernoud's book, The Templars: Knights of Christ.

Finally, also in the UK -- once the bastion of freedom of speech -- police departments around the country arrested 3,395 people last year for breaking a law that declares it illegal to intentionally "cause annoyance, inconvenience, or needless anxiety to another." (Read the story here.)

Now, I don't know about you, but I probably do all of those things several times a day. Dear Diane tells me regularly that I'm being annoying. I sometimes go out of my way to make the lives of others mildly inconvenient...but only when they're really annoying. And how can one differentiate between needless and necessary anxiety? Heavens! I'd probably get a life sentence from the Queen's courts. 

As you might expect, the law is not evenly applied. Several Muslim media types in the UK regularly accuse others of all kinds of nasty crimes simply because of their race or religious beliefs. For this they are not prosecuted. But if a Christian criticizes Islam..."OK, be a good chap and put your hands behind your back."

Well, Jesus told us to expect persecution, and our experience with Nazism and Communism should have been warning enough. But I wonder how many American Christians still believe they are immune to the persecution to come?

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