In April, Britain's only Pakistani-born Bishop, Dr. Michael Nazir-Ali, bishop of Rochester, issued a warning that some areas of England were becoming "no-go" areas too dangerous for non-Muslims to enter. That did not go down very well with the politically correct crowd of social activists who now control the Church of England. Nazir-Ali was roundly criticized by his ecclesiastical leaders but he was right. There seems to be a mentality in many places in church and state that if we simply ignore unpleasant situations they will somehow disappear. They won't. They will simply get worse.
A couple of Americans who were doing evangelistic outreach in Birmingham, England, recently discovered that Nazir-Ali's warning was all too true and that even if the local Muslim population did not rise up to attack them some small time official would make sure to escalate the situation. In parts of Britain with a concentration of an ethnic or religious minority the local police will enlist "Police Community Support Officers." A PCSO has no authority to arrest anyone without the presence of a regular police officer. His job is to reduce tensions between local communities and the police. As the two Americans were talking to a number of youths in an area with a heavy Muslim population, they were accosted by a PCSO who started to question and harass them. He asked them their names and addresses, which they refused to give, as he lacked the right to demand such information. On learning they were from America, he launched into a heated denunciation of President Bush's Iraq policy. No matter how the Americans tried to explain that they had no interest in discussing such matters and were there only to share with people the good news of the gospel, the PCSO remained belligerent and told them that they had no right to be there in that Muslim quarter. He went further and said, "You have been warned. If you come back here and get beaten up, well, you have been warned."
The local police said that they had investigated the matter and that the PCSO concerned had received "corrective training." That is not very reassuring. You may be sure that if a regular police officer had met a Muslim in another part of town and told him that he had no right to be there, that officer would have been dismissed at once. However when a Muslim employed to support the police tells Christians that they have no right to be in his area he receives "corrective training," which is just a nice way of saying that he has been allowed to continue on the job-despite the fact that his actions proved that he was a bigot who posed a bigger than the Muslim youths who were engaged in conversation with the Americans who were trying to tell them of Christ.This is a serious situation. Not only are we seeing an erosion of freedom of speech, especially for Christians, but we are fast reaching the stage where here in the West it will be illegal for Christians to evangelize non-Christians. It used to be that it was under Communism that such restrictions were imposed but more and more it is coming to be the case in the West. The truth is that many politicians and churchmen would be glad to make the public square a no go area for the gospel. We must resist all such efforts in the assurance that whatever men say or do "the word of God is not bound."