2019 Blog by Mary Taylor

Regional Minister the Revd Mary Taylor has shared a blog on Justice in Hard Cases she prepared for her local newspaper.

SHAMIMA Begum left Baghouz as the last remnants of the IS Caliphate were being forced into submission in Eastern Syria. Having been identified by a Times journalist, her request to come back home to the UK has raised this sharp question: How should we treat those who have aligned themselves with such a venomous enemy? Having turned against the UK there are many who say they should lose their rights and privileges as a citizen.

Although the Home Secretary moved swiftly to remove her citizenship, it seems likely that there will be a legal challenge to this action. It is illegal under international law to make someone stateless.

Although arousing anger and strong opinions, her case, and others, still need to be considered with due process and the legally appropriate actions taken. It is in precisely these challenging cases that a law-based democracy holds itself to a higher standard. Who else but the UK should have responsibility? How does the law in this country treat a minor? Do we punish children along with their parents? Whatever all this means for Shamima Begum, it is only the proper application of the law which ultimately safeguards us all.

In the Bible, Moses appointed 70 judges to help in the task of governing the nation. King Solomon asked God for the gift of wisdom to be able to lead and judge carefully. The Old Testament prophets regularly challenged unjust or biased judges, those taking bribes or failing to remember mercy. And our legal system is founded on the same practices of hearing evidence, listening and weighing the facts without prejudice and without haste. It matters that we don’t make decisions based on social media trends or newspaper headlines but through the careful application of wisdom and justice under the law.

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Here's a blog on Brexit  for her local newspaper. (February 2019)

Brexit‘WE are in uncharted waters.’  So we are told, about our political and national situation. Like Captain Cook’s Endeavour sailing the Pacific for the first time, no-one has mapped the way across it. Except, that wasn’t quite true, since the Ocean was familiar to the navigators of the Pacific islands. European explorers would take onboard a local navigator to help them steer safely forward.

Right now, it seems unlikely that a superhero navigator is going to emerge to steer the UK ship. However, what needs to be taken onboard is the need for genuine cross-party co-operation. The healthy practice of democracy requires not only argument and passion but collaboration, listening and respect.

Christian communities have sought to live peace-ably when we hold differing views or come from different cultures. An early statement of unity is St Paul’s assertion that ‘there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free but all one in Christ Jesus.’ He was reflecting on newly-formed Christian churches which comprised diverse people called to live together with love and deep commitment.

Sadly, the reality has sometimes been disgraceful and even violent. But the words of Jesus challenge us when we are dealing with those we consider enemies. Astonishingly, we are to love and do good to them! Christian groups like the Mennonites offer significant ways of transforming conflict through careful dialogue and mediation. Quakers have an honourable history of courageous non-violence. The first Baptists were committed to freedom of conscience and congregational decision-making.

In our conflict over Brexit, it would be timely for us to listen to these minority voices who have navigated peaceful ways through disagreement and dissent. We sorely need a fresh climate in which common solutions are explored, mutual benefit sought and peace made with integrity.


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