Over the holiday period the Guardian’s leader column examines the challenges of the future by fathoming out the present. Today we look at the struggle for the soul of Christianity
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” These words, written by Saint Paul 2,000 years ago, are central to the Christian faith. They speak of a vocation for the universal and point to an ethic of social justice and solidarity. The Christian tradition’s account of the humble circumstances of the birth of Jesus, represented in the nativity scene, is in the same spirit, identifying Christ with the marginal, the maligned and the poor.
It has therefore, for many Christians, been depressing to witness the faith of their churches being used to justify the abandonment of such principles in Europe, Donald Trump’s America and beyond. For liberally minded Christians, 2019 was the latest in a succession of anni horribili, during which a cultural appropriation of their religion did service for aggressive nationalism, xenophobia, homophobia and anti-environmentalism.