As of the writing of this post, over 120 people were gunned down or were killed in explosions across Paris. Apparently, this dastardly deed was done by members who are sympathetic to the ISIS group which has occupied vast swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq as well as small portions of the Mediterranean coast in Libya. Little is known about the men themselves, but it is clear that events that led to this event have developed over many years dating back to the unwise actions of the United States in Iraq beginning in 1990 and interventions from other nations dating to the end of the First World War.
Ever since the end of the First World War, the Middle East has been a cauldron of instability with either leaders ousted in violent coups (Iraq and Syria) or emirs and their decedents holding power for decades (Saudi Arabia and Bahrain). Some good books to read on the early years of this transition from Ottoman rule to countries ruled by strongmen are John Hulsman’s fine book “To Begin the World Over Again: Lawrence of Arabia from Damascus to Baghdad” which is a short book that explains how we got to this tragic situation and “Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations” by Georgina Howell. The West’s refusal to heed the counsel of Gertrude Bell and Lawrence of Arabia with regards to post-Ottoman rule has led to unnecessary interventions by the West to stabilize that part of the world. There is much more to this story on how events of a century ago led to the shootings in Paris, but suffice to say, it all began with the Sykes-Picot treaty which is mentioned in Hulsman’s book.
Peter Hitchens, a columnist for the Mail on Sunday, has written a very able defense of George Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester in the November issue of the London Spectator. It is remarkable that the accuser in this incident has remained anonymous and the evidence against Bell has remained out of public view. Without collaborating evidence, the matter should not be brought out into the open. The Church of England has violated the Bible’s own standards of testimony by taking the word of just one witness. 2 Corinthians 13:1 states as follows:
Every charge must be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
English Common Law is the foundation for our right to a jury trial where one is tried by due process with a jury of one’s own peers. In this day and age, the standards of common law in England have been under attack by professed “reformers” such as Simon Jenkins, columnist for the Guardian, who stated in 2013 “Juries should go the way of ducking stools and vestry duty.” It seems that fair hearings are going the way of the dodo and George Bell’s indictment and conviction on the testimony of one person without a jury seems to be a sign of the decline of liberty in the West.
To many here in America, the Reverend George Bell is a mystery. Only those who have read the about the exploits of Dietrich Bonhoeffer come across the name. It was Reverend Bell, the Bishop of Chichester, who was Bonhoeffer’s greatest English ally in his battle of defiance against the anti-christian activities of the Nazi regime in Germany. Bell also conveyed to the British government that it should recognize a provisional German government in the event Hitler was ousted during the war with the help of Bonhoeffer.
Bell also was a humanitarian and spoke out against the aerial bombardment of civilian targets in Germany in a speech in the House of Lords. After the war, he spoke mainly on nuclear disarmament and was a pioneer of the Ecumenical Movement. Bell died in 1958 and he was remembered as a man who stood on principle even as his chances to become Archbishop of Canterbury diminished due to his unpopular criticism of aerial bombing.
Just a few days ago, an article appeared in the Guardian stating that George Bell engaged in the sexual abuse of a young child. The witness has remained anonymous and a sum of money was paid to that person. Without cross-examination of this person or defense given by a man who has been dead over a half century, the fact that Bell has been given the “abuser” label without any formal jury trial smacks of character assassination by a media which takes any sort of accusation as gospel truth. We may rue the day when an accuser comes after any of us without any collaboration and be branded an abuser for the rest of our lives. Peter Hitchens said it best in his October 25, 2015 column when he said:
I know the C of E [Church of England] has had real problems with child abuse in recent years, and has a lot of apologising to do. No doubt. But was it wise or right to sacrifice the reputation of George Bell, to try to save its own? Who defended the dead man, in this secret process?