Rosa Hunt and Ed Kaneen of Cardiff Baptist College report on a special event held on the 14th of May with the Welsh Senedd (Government).

On the 14th of May this year the Pierhead Building of the Welsh Senedd (Government) welcomed church leaders, politicians and other interested people of faith to a rather special event. Sponsored by the AS (Member of Welsh Parliament) Darren Millar, Helen Paynter and Maria Power launched their new book, The Church, The Far Right and The Claim to Christianity.

In their presentation, Helen and Maria showed us some shocking statistics which highlighted the importance of such a book.

Data presented on this slide is from the 2024 report by Hope Not Hate ‘Pessimism, Decline, and the Rising Radical Right’

In so many ways, there is evidence that the relationship between some Christians/churches and political movements at both extremes of the spectrum is becoming too close for comfort. Rather than calling out prejudice, some Christians and churches have been endorsing the social divisions caused by extremist politics. This was very disheartening to those of us gathered there, but at the end of the presentation Helen and Maria presented us with ten practical actions that the church and individual Christians could take in order to make a difference. It is a hallmark of the work of the Centre for the Study of the Bible and Violence that they combine thoughtful academic enquiry with practical suggestions for action. These ten recommendations were:

  1. Speak humbly – acknowledge Christian complicity, both historic and contemporary
  2. Disavow violence – speak clearly at senior denominational level
  3. Avoid stereotypes eg of Muslim illiberality or White working class racism
  4. Promote dialogue – but be attentive to hijacking by bad actors
  5. Be curious – the causes of far-right ideology are complex and nuanced
  6. Tackle key drivers – such as deprivation and marginalisation
  7. Be prophetic – demonstrate radical love, practice creative nonviolent protest
  8. Fund youth work – to help prevent the radicalisation of young people
  9. Build biblical literacy – theological education and the training of ministers matters
  10. Learn from history – draw on the wisdom of dissenting traditions
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During the discussion that followed, a number of topics were raised ranging from the importance of theological education for helping people read the Bible responsibly, to the best ways in which churches could work together to make a united stand against divisive politics.

It was pointed out during the discussion that it was not just far-right groups which represented a threat to society – extremist groups exist at both ends of the spectrum. The speakers acknowledged this concern but pointed out that most instances of misuse of the Bible seemed to come from groups associated with the radical right.

We are very grateful to Helen and Maria – not just for writing this important and timely book, but also for launching it in Wales where there has been concern in the news recently that there has been a drift towards the extreme right in mainstream politics. As some of those responsible for educating theologians, we appreciate the hard work being done by CSBV to ensure that people read their Bibles responsibly!

Pre-order your copy for release on 30th September 2024.

Ed Kaneen and Rosa Hunt are Co-Principals of Cardiff Baptist College. Ed teaches in the areas of New Testament and Christian Origins for Cardiff University. Rosa teaches in the areas of Spirituality, Church History, and Biblical Interpretation and is particularly interested in language and languages, and their interface with culture, power and spirituality.

As with all guest blogs, the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the CSBV.

The Church, the Far Right, and the Claim to Christianity
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