Saturday, 27 March 2010

Obeying the state?

Last night Caroline and I watched the movie Sophie Scholl (available at Extravision). It is based on the activities of members of the German resistance movement during World War 2. I would recommend it for thoughtful viewing.
As it happens this morning's reading, on my slow but enjoyable journey through Stott's commentary of Romans, was on Romans 13. In it he states, 'Whenever laws are enacted which contradict God's law, civil disobedience becomes a Christian duty.' He gives the following example:
In 1957 Hendrick Verwoerd, as Minister of Native Affairs the year before he became Prime Minister of South Africa, announced the Native Laws Amendment bill. Its 'church clause' would have prevented any racial association in 'church, school, hospital, club or any other institution or place of entertainment.' The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town at the time was a gentle scholar called Geoffrey Clayton. He decided with his bishops, although with reluctance and apprehension, that they must disobey. He wrote to the Prime Minister that, if the Bill were to become law, he would be 'unable to obey it or counsel our clergy and people to do so'. The following morning he died, perhaps under the pain and strain of civil disobedience.

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