Anglican Bishop Graham Tomlin, heads the diocese of Kensington in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which has many of London’s most expensive residential properties, is undoubtedly a man of brains and good works.
On May 26, 2018, however, he published in The Times an article, entitled, “If this rich vein of wisdom disappears, a part of us dies”. The “rich vein of wisdom” to which he refers is the long tradition of Christian thought and experience in the region where the religion first appeared, and was handed down through centuries of Islamic rule. For the most part, the article is a well-argued defence of Christians in the Middle East:
The systematic persecution of Christians in the Middle East is a serious threat. The number of Christians in Middle Eastern countries has fallen from about 20 per cent to 4 per cent in recent years and regular bomb attacks on Christians in Egypt are becoming part of a deadly pattern.
So far so good. Tomlin’s heart is surely in the right place. But immediately after that he goes on:
Even in Jerusalem, new regulations are threatening to tax the Christian churches out of existence, prompting the recent unprecedented closure of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as an act of protest. The buildings from ancient times will still stand, but if Christians are hounded out of the Middle East, driven to emigrate by radical Islam, or, in the case of many Palestinian Christians, by the lack of opportunities to thrive in Israel, this rich source of wisdom will disappear just like the ruins of Palmyra.
The “ruins of Palmyra” is, of course, a reference to the widespread destruction of the famous Syrian site, one of the wonders of the ancient world, by Islamic State in 2015 and again in 2017. Referring to this desecration, however vaguely, implies some sort of moral contiguity between ISIS and Israel.