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The Editorial


en has learned of recent early morning visits from Ofsted inspectors to a number of Christian schools in the North of England.

John Benton, Editor

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This came soon after the head of Ofsted said that there would be no more such ‘dawn raids’ except in extreme cases. Where are such moves coming from?

Mind your own business?

This coming year will see a General Election. Commentators agree that with the rise of UKIP and of Scottish Nationalism with Alex Salmond seeking election to Westminster, the outcome is highly unpredictable. But one thing which seems certain, no matter which party, or coalition of parties, gains power, is that politicians will continue their drive to bring legislation into every possible area of our lives.

It is arguable that this tendency is a direct result of secularism. Jesus taught us that human beings have responsibilities in two directions. We are to ‘render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s’ (Luke 20.25). Individuals have responsibility to the State but also to their Maker. Thus, democratic governments have always recognised a proper limitation to their powers – e.g. a place for individual conscience, which should be protected from political control.

But once a society no longer recognises God then, admitting no greater authority than his own, Caesar takes it upon himself to legislate for every part of existence – probably with what he believes is a benign motive. Great Caesar knows what is best for everyone. C.S. Lewis, in an article in the Observer in 1958, foresaw just this: ‘The modern State exists not to protect our rights but to do us good or make us something. Hence the new name “leaders” for those who were once “rulers”. We are less their subjects than their wards, pupils or domestic animals. There is nothing left of which we can say to them, “Mind your own business”. Our whole lives are their business’.

When religion and the State had basically the same values, government could trust the church to raise good citizens. But both the outlook of the State and the content of religion has changed. Why the Ofsted dawn raids? Yes, it is to do with government, recognising Islamic extremism in Britain, becoming understandably jumpy about what goes on in ‘faith schools.’ But it is also that the secular outlook inevitably produces control-freak politicians who feel the need to manipulate everything.

Putting the brakes on

Thankfully there are some well-placed obstacles on the road to Gov-Max. First, Lord Acton’s famous remark still echoes with us: ‘Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men’. Tacitus said something similar: the more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the State. Hopefully the British electorate can still recognise such things. Secondly, though a secular State tends towards total control, we are at the same time living in a country with a huge financial deficit and in a world teetering on the brink of another economic downturn. Though politicians may want to continually increase legislation, they are unlikely to have the money required to enforce the laws. At the beginning of December, the Chief Constable of Lincolnshire warned that given the government’s intended financial cuts his force would be ‘unsustainable’ by 2018. Perhaps the fiscal constraints on busted Britain are God’s way of putting the brakes on Gov-Max. He is still the sovereign God on his throne.