After a long posting break owing to my preparation for submitting my PhD thesis and preparing for the viva (the oral exam that proves it is yours and you did not just buy it online – yes, that really does happen, I saw an interview with a guy who has a thesis writing business, he has a few PhDs under his belt!), I decided to take a break from taking a break after being particularly provoked by being asked to swear an oath of allegiance to our new King this weekend. As I have resisted the urge to write about all sorts of things since about October last year that have provoked me to wrath in order that I might focus and complete my epic part-time studies as they clicked over into the final stretch after six long years, why should this have so triggered me? Well, as strange as it might sound, it does intersect with the final chapter of my thesis, which deals with Christian political ethics, and it is the affront to biblical ethics that the invitation represents that has been the catalyst to emerge from by self-imposed isolation.
This is a little like déjà vu for me – way back in 1982 at the tender age of 14, I protested the Royal Wedding of this very same Charles and Diana by going out into the back garden and cleaning my push-bike rather than join my family around the valve-powered TV. Then the reason for my angst was the nascent radical socialism that was beginning to flow red through my veins helped along the way by Not The Nine O’Clock News which was the time alternative comedy really was alternative and not the bland politically correct nonsense it is now. Everyone got insulted and everyone laughed or changed the channel to one of your three choices, perhaps even putting the radio on if all else failed. I used to love the police frequencies with my special radio that advertised itself with extended VHF bands but warned you against using them to listen to the police but as there was only the police using those bands, there was not much choice and besides, I liked doing illegal things in those early teenage years.
Back to the point! I had learnt enough politicking that the Royal Family was an enormous waste of money and Buckingham Palace should be converted into a hostel for homeless people – I agreed all the more heartily with that sentiment when I found myself homeless at 17. However, a few years later, in a story I tell here, I was confronted with my own mortality after an extended period of dissipation, had a vision of the crucifixion of Jesus, and have lived as a Christian since. That did not mean I gave up my socialism; indeed, I found out about the Christian Socialist Movement, the Workers Educational Association and the rich Christian heritage in the Trade Union movement which stretched all the way to groups such as the Levellers and the Diggers which formed part of Cromwell’s New Model Army who were radically egalitarian. It is not without a humorous irony given my present purpose, that Charles I was executed by Cromwell and for about a decade there was actually a monarch-free zone in the Commonwealth of England (which had annexed Wales, de facto ruled Scotland and subjugated Ireland as a vassal state).
However, our fledging republic was terminated with the return of Charles II after a sleazy deal with the Scots Presbyterians and our monarchy along with the monarchies of most of Europe, on the whole, have endured first as vassals and willing instruments of the Papal hegemony, in incestuous relationships with one another and somehow in carving out a constitutional role for themselves with actually far more latent power than us mere commoners appreciate. For us Brits, the Royals combined with the loyalty of the military elite, still really hold the reins of power should parliament be deemed to be behaving insubordinately as was demonstrated when a senior general warned the military would not just “sit by doing nothing” if a “real” Leftie like Jeremy Corbyn became Primeminister; token Lefties like Starmer who would be in the SDP if it was still around are fine, not just the real thing (sorry, revolutionary socialist cheapshot). Of course, another senior general was queued up to immediately clarify and contradict what the first general said but if you do not think a coup could happen in Britain, you are living in a fantasy world. At least in the US you can arm yourselves for the express purpose of defending yourself against the government, we do not have that luxury.
Now, please, do not misinterpret my rant. For a little bit of balance, I came to greatly respect and admire our late Queen Elizabeth II despite my youthful genetic disposition to loathe the Royal Family and annexe their estates in the name of the redistribution of wealth. Alas I am also apostate, I no longer am a socialist because the State is not my Saviour, equality is in opportunity not in imposed outcome and now I only read the Guardian when my neighbour gives it to me as fuel for lighting the fire. The Queen was no doubt a remarkable person who cared deeply for our nation and had Christian contacts far beyond the organised CoE cabal, personally asking “what are the prophets saying?”, a reference to the British Council of Prophets, most definitely an “on the edge” charismatic Christian group, some of who had contact with one of her personal staff. I remember with stunning clarity where one of her addresses to the nation during the 2000s telegraphed her Christian commitment, “divine revelation is found in Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism but it is in the teachings of Jesus Christ I…” (my paraphrase). That address was notable because of how the BBC completely misreported it and made it sound like a multifaith confession, but I saw the real thing. Of course, not all her speeches or addresses were as free, often they were written for her and sometimes it showed; it is difficult addressing the problems of lockdown single parents in your Council High Rise block from thy Royal Residence; did not thy heart beat fierce within thy chest at the tragic story of Wills and Kate locked down in their royal estate set within the green rolling downs? I wanted to start a GoFundMe for them knowing the platform that denied the truck drivers of Canada struggling against COVID tyranny and the right to earn a living a lifeline, would rush to help the Royals that were born to rule over the Commonwealth; it is somewhat ironic that Harry and Megs took refuge there. Joking aside (though the latter were not jokes but real events), the Queen was duly and appropriately honoured as a fine “defender of the faith”.
However, I finally get closer to my problem with that innocuous little phrase “defender of the faith”. There is a lot of religious fluff around the Coronation, Archbishop Welby (again, a Christian minister worthy of respect) insisting despite the inclusive presence within the ceremony of a Hindu PM (after all, he is reading the Bible), and representatives of the other faiths representing our deep diversity and inclusivity as a nation (even my native Scots Gaelic gets a look-in when it is only used on solar eclipses within our own Scots parliament; I feel so included) that this is somehow a Christian coronation and an oath of allegiance is appropriate for a Christian nation honouring a Christian king. It is my contention this amounts to not just an improper but a blasphemous request, and we need to understand our history if we are remotely interested in not bowing down to false gods.
So, what is wrong with this phrase and how does it relate to this pledge of allegiance? There are two distinct issues here, with the title and the oath, so let us consider first the title. Let us see this juicy quote from Sky News:
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the most senior Catholic clergyman in England, said: “I think it is a very remarkable moment, it is obviously something quite new.”
Cardinal Nichols is obviously very excited in his chastity and so he should be. The term “defender of the faith” is not an honorific term for the British monarch even with Charles’ desire to be known as “defender of the faiths (plural)”. He still wants to be the first, the principal, the foremost point of reference, our Pontus Maximus. That is, the title belongs to the time when the Pope mandated the driving of heretics from all the realms in which he had jurisdiction which included all the realms of the European monarchs over whom he reigned as Supreme Monarch. It was bequeathed on the British King for his outstanding work for driving heretics (those who in the name of life and liberty defied the Pope’s authority) from the land, preferably by extermination preceded by painful torture that one might recant and save thy soul. Not since the time of “bloody Mary” (bloody because of the blood of the people she had murdered to honour the Pope, she once did a town of 10000 in one go) have we as a nation been invited to humble ourselves and pledge allegiance to a defender of the Catholic faith. Previously the “hereditary peers” (the most privileged caste by birth of our upper, unelected House of Lords which acts as a check on those rebellious commoners) would do this on our behalf as Lords of the Manor on which we use to live in serfitude and servitude, but now we cannot escape, the responsibility becomes ours personally and individually; there is no blissful ignorance any longer but we are to make ourselves slaves or free by the words of our own mouths.
On that basis alone is enough for me to decline the invitation but to the more secular minded out there it might seem little more than sectarian religious prejudice, but my point stands that the honourable Cardinal Nichols begs to differ with you on the spiritual significance of the invitation. However, that is the relatively minor issue, the most offensive and blasphemous element is the invitation to make an oath of allegiance to an earthly ruler. The oath is the highest moral commitment you can make which is why the vestiges of the original cultural practice of oath making tends to be in the domain of legal contracts, marriage ceremonies and the like. When a politician is virtue-signalling they take an oath on their mother’s grave etc.
My point is that biblically, the oath of allegiance is to and for God alone. We are to fear (reverence with the force of the oath) God and honour (place the appropriate value on) the King and any other ministers (1 Pe 2:17). The original Greek words make the difference very clear. To instruct or command that one should take an oath of allegiance is to usurp that which belongs to God alone. The Christian model of governance is found most obviously in Romans 13, and it is not a prescription of unconditional submission to our rulers but submission to those who rule as ministers of God; this was clearly and cogently argued by the great Welsh evangelical minister David Martyn Lloyd Jones during the 1960s and his work is a timely reminder for us; I too sketched the argument here and far more fully as full blown research here. Those who tyrannise the people in the name of the “divine right of Kings” or more likely in our modern secular parlance as “emergency legislation”, rule illegitimately and the people are free to organise to eject them from their position, by revolution in the extreme.
To return to our opening salvos, this was why Cromwell’s vision of a Christian commonwealth with equal rights for all (including the Jews, which was revolutionary during the time of the pogroms) was the true destiny of our nation, free from the tyranny of the monarchs who rule over us for our own good. Cromwell’s vision sharpened by the more radical groups within the New Model Army, was simply that which had been stated in the Magna Carta centuries before, the British citizen had a right to live without governmental or clerical interference (including mandatory taxation to fund its war and tyranny) provided they were not involved in criminal activity. That spirit survived in the American colonies and those political and spiritual principles became the US constitution, now the longest running Constitution of any nation on Terra Firma.
Indeed, our final point is that the House of Commons has been as guilty as any other body of usurping its legitimate authority and attempting to cover up this Common Law of the Magna Carta (analogous to the US constitution for those foreign readers) with its “Acts” of Parliament. These are no more binding on the British citizen than the illegitimate and illegal Corona Virus Act, under which every prosecution that was made was later quashed. Those in the Councils of the lands are well aware of their illegitimate basis for their rule, which is why they jealously guard themselves wrapped in their garments of legislation and regulations, hoping people stay ignorant, settling quietly with those who resist their mandates and illegal laws (I hope to expand upon this in future articles). Now, we do, in good conscience as citizens who want to maintain the integrity of our nation, pay taxes, pay our parking charges (illegal though they may be) and give honour where honour is due regardless of our personal feelings and prejudices about people and corrupted institutions, but we need to find our voice and courage again to resist the tyranny of our illegitimate rulers.
So, in summary, this seemingly “inclusive” and “exciting” invitation to take an oath is anti-Christian and blasphemous in that it gives to a man or woman (and any of the other 152 modern genders and intersex variants) that which belongs to God alone. I certainly will not be taking it and unless my Japanese wife wants to enjoy what the British do best in rolling out their Royals in a time of national crisis or celebration, chances are I will be symbolically polishing my car in full view of my neighbours, 40 years after my push bike as my personal protest. That sleazy deal with King Charles II cost our nation more than we realise, we must not make that mistake a second time.
Lloyd-Jones, D. M. (2015 (2002)). Romans – Exposition of Chapter 13. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust.
Macneil, M. (2021, April 29). Politics, Church and State in the Post-Trump Era. doi:10.13140/RG.2.2.16282.16325