I’m about to leave for the rebpublican protest against the monarchy and the royal jubilee. For me, this is not only a demonstration for democracy, important though that it. It is also an anti-cuts demonstration.
This is because the original meaning of “jubilee” is being scandalously abused this weekend. Jubilee is described in the Book of Leviticus as a time when debts were cancelled, slaves set free and the economy rebalanced.
“You shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you… The land shall not be sold in perpetuity… If any of your kin falls into difficulty and sells a piece of property… in the jubilee it shall be released and the property returned… If any of your kin fall into difficulty and sell themselves… they and their children with them shall go free in the jubilee year… I am the LORD your God”. (Leviticus 25, NRSV)
As Gareth Hughes, Anglican chaplain to Hertford College, Oxford, pointed out last week, “our society is crying out for this sort of jubilee”. Instead, this weekend’s “jubilee” will celebrate earthly power, obscene wealth, hereditary privilege and military might.
The economic dimension of “real jubilee” is a key reason for the involvement of Christianity Uncut in the weekend’s protests. Sadly, many churches are celebrating, rather than challenging, the abuse of the concept of jubilee. This makes it all the more important for other Christians to make clear that they want to celebrate justice, not privilege.