Our friends in the United Kingdom at the Christian Institute are reporting that St. Mary’s Church in Leigh, Greater Manchester, has been ordered to cease ringing its church bells that have been ringing since the 16th Century.  Apparently, some neighbors complained about the bell-ringing and the church was ordered to reduce the frequency of the bell-ringing and install expensive sound-proofing materials that it cannot afford.  If the church does not comply, it could face stiff fines and penalties from the government.

The Reverend Kevin Crinks is Priest in Charge at St. Mary’s.  His response to the threat to the bells is telling.  He urged church members and local community members to speak up and stated, “If you keep silent, so will the bells, and who knows what the next erosion to our freedom might be?”

Europe, in many ways, is ahead of America in marginalizing Christianity.  Many say that Europe is now a completely secular culture.  One commentator in 2006 in USA Today asked the question, “Is God Dead in Europe?“  The commentator quoted former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing who presided over the creation of the European Union’s Constitution who said at the time that, “Europeans live in a purely secular political system, where religion does not play an important role.”

 The attack on St. Mary’s bells is the latest salvo in Europe’s battle against Christianity, and steady march toward secularism.  European society increasingly sees religion as useless and a nuisance.  Churches have lost their distinctive role in Europe and are marginalized and treated as nothing more than any other secular business.  What makes the St. Mary’s case even more striking, though, is the fact that the church bells at St. Mary’s have been ringing since the 16th century and only now has the government begun to crack down on the bells despite this heritage and history.  There is no regard for the Christian heritage of the church in Europe.

The St. Mary’s story stands as a clear warning call to Americans.  And before you dismiss what I’m saying as hyperbole, remember that it was just this year that ADF was able, through God’s grace, to protect church bells in Phoenix from being silenced.  Rev. Crinks has it right – if we don’t speak up now at the first infringment of our liberties, who knows what the next erosion of our liberties will be?

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