Here’s our #AfternoonTea discussion on protests. Key points include
- There is a long tradition of marching and demonstrating as a means of making our voices heard. There are democratic freedoms allowing us to do this and benefits include that it gives a sense of action and participation beyond simply marking a cross at the ballot box.
- We also need to remember that protest can be misused to force decisions based on numbers rallied which may not truly reflect the views of wider society and may even feel intimidatory to others. Additionally, the numbers of people that march should not be seen as a measure of the moral validity of your case.
- A risk with direct action is that it can be subverted by those seeking to cause criminal damage and incite violence but we should not judge the cause or those who protest peacefully because some do not.
- Protest has also caused civil disobedience throughout history. This is trickier because we want to respect the Law and Christians are called to submit to it. We should obey the Law unless it conflicts with the Gospel.
- Protesting during Coronavirus raises questions about public safety. We may however seek to understand that demonstrations reflect how passionate people are and how important the cause. Are there other ways in which we can demonstrate? E-Petitions, blog posts, letters to MPs etc?
- We also talked about the tearing down of Statues. Again, we need to think carefully about what it means to obey the law and not cause criminal damage. But again, we may be challenged to consider motivations and what particular monuments symbolise in terms of oppression and hatred.
If we disagree with a protest position, we should be honest about our reasons. For example, don’t hide behind timing or methods if you disagree. If you think it is wrong to protest say so. If you think it is right, but the timing is wrong (e.g. coronavirus) then constructively identify alternative ways to demonstrate. Similarly, we should not hidebehind the idea the statues of long forgotten men represent our history or that they stand to remind us of our part in the slave trade.