Baroness Thatcher’s Funeral

Most of us in the my-church collective are radical, left wing and Methodist.  We are uncertain how to respond to the funeral of Baroness Thatcher.  For those of us who campaigned against apartheid we were relieved that her stance  on the African National Congress, which she once described as “a typical terrorist organisation”, and her support for the former apartheid government has not been forgotten.  We note the Guardian’s report ot the comments of Dali Tambo, son of the former ANC president Oliver Tambo, who said;  “I don’t think she ever got it that every day she opposed sanctions, more people were dying, and that the best thing for the assets she wanted to protect was democracy. Many lives were lost. It’s a shame that we could never call her one of the champions of the liberation struggle. Normally we say that when one of us goes, the ANC ancestors will meet them at the pearly gates and give them a standing ovation. I think it’s quite likely that when Margaret Thatcher reaches the pearly gates, the ANC will boycott the occasion”.

There has also been a focus on her Methodist roots, My-church contributor Rev David Haslam had this to say in The Guardian on April 13,

“Were Methodist hymns to be sung at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, rousing or otherwise, many of Methodism’s trades union founders would be turning in their graves. It was said of the country preachers who formed the Agricultural Workers Union, and their chapels: “Here labourers learned self-respect, self-government, self-reliance and organisation, here men learned to speak, to read, to write and to lead their fellows.”

Five of the Tolpuddle martyrs were Methodists, as were many of the founders of the miners’ unions. The founder of Methodism may have been a Tory, but so were their many persecutors. Thatcher showed no sign of the humility demanded by many of the hymns of Charles Wesley. It is hard to imagine her singing I am not worthy Lord, So foul, so self-abhorred, Thee, my God, to entertain In this poor polluted heart.

They may sing what they like, but please keep Methodism out of the funeral.”