Is it time to push back on the ‘Christian vote’?


11:21 am - April 26th 2010

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contribution by Lisa Ansell

The web of right-wing Christian lobby groups, think-tanks and political associations who have worked tirelessly to emulate the strategy of their American cousins seems to be increasingly coming into focus.

Their narrow political agenda of opposing gay rights, abortion and sex education is rapidly becoming synonymous with the ‘moral’ concern of the entire Christian community. Their extensive work encouraging Christians to politicize their faith, and establishing their influence within the Conservative Party is bearing fruit.

Earlier this month thirty-five prominent individuals and other organisations signed a statement of values calling on politicians to “protect the right of Christians” to hold their beliefs and “act according to Christian conscience”.

Publications like Christian Voice and Catholic Herald already have a long history of politicizing their readers, but that “Declaration of Conscience”, which proudly featured the former Archbishop of Canterbury’s name, took it to a whole new level.

Far from being a ‘united front’ of British Churches, the declaration features fundamentalist anti-abortion charities like Christian Action Research and Education (CARE), whose anti-abortion lobbying force in Parliament have caused concern within the house and the Charities Commission.

Professional bodies like the homophobic, anti-abortion Christian Medical Fellowship, sit alongside the likes of Christian Legal Centre (closely linked to Christian Concern for our Nation (CCFON)), helping Christians to challenge anti-discrimination laws.

There has long been worry about the influence of fundamentalist lobby groups like CCFON. Their opaque links with Conservative MPs like Nadine Dorries have been subject to scrutiny, but their presence in almost every media storm which pushes this agenda show their strategy is not just political.

Will Britain go the way of the US?
Cameron and the Christian Right may look to the US for strategy, but the way this agenda is used to dismiss everything from science education to universal healthcare is a cautionary tale for voters.

Making abortion a political issue sends a reassuring message to the Christian right. Bbut simultaneously paying lip service to ‘gay rights’ and ‘abortion on demand’ underestimates the electorate. I doubt these moves are universally welcomed within the Conservative Party.

The assassination of George Tiller, and 68,000 lives lost yearly through restriction of safe abortion, have etched the hypocrisy of ‘pro-life’ rhetoric onto Britain’s consciousness.

People are questioning the moral authority of the Catholic Church for themselves, and Christians will surely tire of their faith being tied up with such a toxic agenda.

This agenda is a political one, defined solely by the restriction of other people’s rights. Yet any challenge from those whose rights are to be restricted is portrayed as more evidence of the persecution of a faith.

If this doesn’t backfire, the US provides a clear vision of the future. Maybe Libby Brooks was right: perhaps we should dust off our ‘pro-choice’ banners.

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Reader comments


I must say most Christians I meet are liberals or leftists, and we have to be careful in attacking this politicised ugly face of Christianity that we don’t validate its claim to represent Christianity as a whole. (And there is clear parallel here with the way the right attack Islam – which has a similar ugly side.)

Even the term fundamentalist has some collateral damage here. Fundamentalists are the main recruiting ground for this effort, but they have by no means all been recruited.

Like Joe Otten, I know plenty of Christians who are left-wing, liberal-minded folks, some are old-fashioned revolutionaries, others anarchists, most of them peace campaigners. They do try to get the sensible Christian voice heard, to get Christians to concentrate on important issue such as peace, justice, disarmament, poverty, the environment, etc. And less on who does what with who in bed!

They need to be even more vociferous, I believe, so that these ‘fundies’ don’t assume they represent all Christians (and, of course, so that the public in general don’t assume this as well).

Lisa

The assassination of George Tiller, and 68,000 lives lost yearly through restriction of safe abortion, have etched the hypocrisy of ‘pro-life’ rhetoric onto Britain’s consciousness.

Did all “pro-life” people voice their unified support of Tiller’s murder, or are you taking the most extreme example, to show your opponents at their worst?

This agenda is a political one, defined solely by the restriction of other people’s rights.

It really isn’t: you/we might think the value they attach to it’s bogus, but that lil’ fetus noses in there too.

I would say that the better option for the left is to push FOR the Christian vote.

As a Christian who is a member of the Labour party I find a lot of left-ish policy has clear resonance with Christian family and friends – fairness in international development is one obvious example.

Of course for those of us who are socialist Christians, there is always the option of joining CSM – http://www.thecsm.org.uk/ which can be a real encouragement when the debate about the role of religion in society appears to be about to degenerate into whether the state should interfere in people’s sex and personal lives.

5. Shona Elliott

Faith should not be hijacked for any political agenda but it is important to remember those with a faith should be encouraged to involve themselves in political debate. I do not want my faith hijacked for a right wing agenda as my Christian faith has led me to hold a liberal progressive outlook. But it is important to make the distinction that an individual may decide to hold a specific political outlook due to biblical considerations not because they have a subversive agenda

Ahem. I would be wary of using this American “Christian right” meme in a sweeping way – Nadine Dorries may fit the bill, but how representative she is of anything I don’t know.

If we take, for instance, Catholic politics, which I do know, the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is overwhelmingly Old Labour in its complexion, as are most priests, and Labour still pulls in over half of the Catholic vote. If you wanted to list some Catholic MPs, you’d get Ann Widdecombe and Iain Duncan Smith, but you’d also get George Galloway, Jon Cruddas, John McDonnell, Jim Murphy, Andrew Mackinlay, Charles Kennedy… not exactly a solid block of frothing rightists.

In fact there’s a lot of diversity in how people use their faith to approach politics. This is a point that the more strident wing of secularism tends to miss.

Lisa,

Such secular bravado never ceases to amuse me.

Why just Christians? Shouldn’t your question be: “Is it time to push back on the ‘Religious vote’?” – or are you just gunning for a soft target?

I’d like to see you stick your head above the parapet and talk about “pushing back on the ‘Muslim vote’?”. You wouldn’t – not because it would be wrong (which it would) but because you wouldn’t dare to.

This is a well timed warning… by which I mean, early.

At the moment, I don’t think that this fundamentalist Christian constituency has enough support in the UK. Their moral outrages do not resonate in the same way as they do in the USA, and church attendance here is nothing like the levels accross the pond (paradoxically, I think this may be due to the fact we have an Established Church, which presents a conundrum for Liberal Lefties).

Still worth remaining vigilant, though.

I think Sunny should exercise more quality-control when he accepts posts about religion in general, Christianity in particular.

Lisa Ansell’s piece is hopelessly badly-written and deeply ignorant of its subject matter. She flings terms like “fundamentalist” around with abandon but plainly hasn’t the faintest idea what it means. She hasn’t the faintest idea what Christianity is or what Catholicism is and on and on ….Did I mention the fact that the writing was Godawful?

Kojak,

Just reread the piece. Hold it up to the light and examine it from different angles.

Now tell me what the point is of trying to reason with the person idiotic enough to put their name to such embarassing dross.

“and 68,000 lives lost yearly through restriction of safe abortion”

What? Here, in the UK? 68,000 people die each year because they are prevented from having an abortion?

Pull the other one.

If you’re using some global figure than what has that to do with politics in the UK?

I don’t think I’ve been reading the same article as other commenters – or rather, I don’t think I’ve been reading the same parts. Towards the end it does get a bit slapdash and anti-RC, but for most of the article Lisa is very clear that she’s talking about a network of pressure groups promoting a particular agenda in the name of a Christian approach to politics, not about the idea of a Christian approach to politics. In short – as the title says – it’s about “the ‘Christian vote'”, not about “the Christian vote” – not Christianity but Christianism.

Hey Red Maria – I thought you’d turn up with ad hominems. What a surprise.

Nadine Dorries may fit the bill, but how representative she is of anything I don’t know.

Erm – have you read any of the writing from Tim Montgomerie? Straight from the Republican playbook too.

Once the faith schools start expanding in serious number then be worried. I’ve also addressed this topic in th eNEw Statesman this week

Phil,

If it was about so called ‘Christianism’ it should have said so clearly.

My take on it is it was a silly article from someone who in a few years time will probably spend Sunday mornings sitting in the pews so as her child can attend a school with half decent results.

Might be wrong – but I have a hunch.

As an Evangelical Christian who is also a Green Party candidate, I have to say that the article really doesn’t reflect what I see in Evangelical Christian circles. There’s as wide a range of political views as anywhere else. Yes, there are more pro-lifers than in the general population (and possibly more people opposed to gay marriage – though that’s more debatable), but equally there are more people concerned about left-wing issues like global poverty.

Also, those Christians I know of who are involved in the Conservative Party are those who genuinely believe in the compassionate conservative idea and trying to push it in a direction where it does try to care for the poor. Regardless of whether or not you agree that their policy proposals will help achieve that aim, it’s unfair to characterise the right-wing of Christian politics within the UK as being about banning abortion, restricting gay rights, and banning sex education (which, incidentally, I’ve yet to hear any UK Christian advocate).

Of the three mainstream leaders only Nick Clegg is an atheist.

Just sayin’.

For me, the argument against a narrow, conservative, ‘Christianist’ mindset is an argument within Christianity, and one which this article would fit right into. It doesn’t strike me as remotely secularist or anti-religious.

The term is ‘Dominionist’, rather than Christianist; in that the network we’re talking about was founded under that name in the Bible Belt in the 1960s. The doctrine is quite simple; Christians exist to hold actual and immediate dominion over the whole earth. It’s up to them to achieve this by any means necessary, but ideally by exploiting the weakness of democracy; it lets the loonies in.

The founder outlined a strategy which was based on school boards. Get elected. Take over. Change the syllabus. 20 years later, do the same to the town. 20 years after that do the same to the county. Etc. It’s been working.

@ Sunny: it is neither an ad hominem nor an ad feminam to describe the blog post by Lisa Ansell as embarassing dross because that is precisely what it is.

I think both she and you would benefit from informing yourself about Christianity before you attempt to critique it. At this point I cite the strange contention in your Staggers peice that CCFON – for which I hold absolutely no brief and have criticised myself in the past – is not a “normal” Christian organistion, on the grounds that it a) opposes abortion b) considers homosexual activity to be sinful and c) dates planet earth’s origins in the thousands of years.

The latter belief is, it is true, a singular one but the first two are straightforward othodox Christian beliefs which have always been held by Christians and remain common to many, including the largest and oldest of the various denominations.

It’s worth pointing out that the views of ordinary Christians in the UK, even on specific policies such as gay rights/abortion etc, often aren’t that close to what their religious leaders say. If you look at the British Social Attitudes website, for example, in 2007, only 32% of Anglicans and 23% of Catholics surveyed said that sleeping with someone of the same sex was always wrong. And in 2008 39% of Catholics surveyed said that it should be legal for a woman to have an abortion if she decided she didn’t want a child. There just isn’t a large demographic of people with ‘traditional’ views for the Christianists to appeal to. The only way such attempts could really get traction is if the Christianists managed to draw liberals/socialists into fighting a culture war with them, and parties on the left started claiming that Christianity was incomparable with liberalism/socialism.

“The founder outlined a strategy which was based on school boards. Get elected. Take over. Change the syllabus. 20 years later, do the same to the town. 20 years after that do the same to the county. Etc. It’s been working.”

Sure. The difference between this and the worship of Gaia ain’t much….

22. Nick Cohen is a Tory

I must admit most UK christians I know are liberal, non racist and believers in secular education.

@Sunny
If we’re talking about Christians in politics, I’ll see your Tim Montgomerie and raise you Tony Benn and Bruce Kent.

@magistra
As I mentioned above, the majority of Catholics in Britain vote Labour. Now, since this site was recently running three No Popery threads simultaneously… there might be a problem if leftists started condemning all Christians as hopeless reactionaries? You betcha.

First of all- I am not attacking christianity. Homophobia and restriction of abortion are not synonymous with the christian faith I know. No matter how much right wing lobby groups might say it is.

With regard to the article I was very specific about a web of POLITICAL lobby groups- who are trying to tie up an agenda of homophobia, and restriction of abortion- and make it synonymous with christianity. Groups who have an agenda of encouraging christians to politicise their faith, and who have been working hard to establish a presence in the Conservative party.

Christian right wing think tanks, lobby groups, and leading Conservatives have been goading Cameron for months, that the ‘religious vote’ would swing this election.

David Camerons announcement that he would make a cut in the abortion limit to 20 weeks- in his interview in the Catholic Herald- was a direct move to appease this section of his party, and the religious right. Funnily enough- also a strategy employed by the Republican party.

From the murmurings about married persons tax allowances, and faith schools- to actually declaring christian values as part of his election platform, and committing to cutting the upper time limit for abortion- David Cameron has shown his commitment to this agenda.

This cut in the upper time limit has been fully discussed in parliament, twice in the past two years. It has been voted against, and there is absolutely no scientific or medical argument for it. The only argument for it is a moral one- and there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that women are not morally competent to decide for themselves. THis is healthcare provision-medical ethics apply- not right wing religious ethics.

The declaration of conscience was a directly inspired by the Manhattan Declaration in the US- and was signed mostly by these political lobby groups, who are working to make it appear that their views are synonymous with christian faith. It was then represented as a declaration of churches.

THere has been a very concerted strategy, which directly mirrored that used by US Christian right lobby groups in the US-prior to Bush’s election.

Tim Montgomery, is one of the most influential men in the Conservative party at the moment- Conservative Christian Fellowship-bridging the gap between Conservatives and Christianity- making sure he uses his blog to give ample publicity to the causes that these lobby groups.

Sorry you disagreed- but hey ho. As for badly written- it was kind of clunky- but that’s because it was adapted from a longer piece. You can’t win em all.

I have no appetite for US style faith based politics if you don’t mind.

Christians are likely to vote as their conscience tells them, and will no doubt be found voting for all of the parties – although how they can support the atheistical fabian monstrosity that is New Labour I can’t explain.

Lisa, if you want to denounce Christians in US politics, why not stick the boot in the most famous of all, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr? Should he have kept his opinions to himself?

Martin Luther King didn;t have a political agenda that was solely about restricting other peoples rights, did he? I thought his political agenda was one which was accepted by the American people on the basis of its merit. The fact that it was his faith that led him to pursue the dream of people being treated equally, while saying something about his character and integrity, was ultimately irrelevant in the acceptance of equal rights regardless of race.

Never thought I would hear Martin Luther King used to justify a political agenda of exclusion, discrimination, and restriction of health services. Well done.

Let me be clear- active homophobic discrimination, and restriction of health services is not an expression of christianity. And to suggest it is, does a great disservice to most christians.

It may be some peoples way of expressing their ‘faith’-but if it is going to be used as justification for restricting the rights of british citizens, slightly more evidence is needed.

I must admit most UK christians I know are liberal, non racist and believers in secular education.

And disassociate themselves from the raving loons like CCFON and Dorries.

Not that Dorries pays any attention, nor does the Archbishop seem to understand he’s alienating his own supporters with some of his intemperate attempts to retain the privilege his organisation has held onto in an increasingly secular country.

Two of the best activists in my branch are also very committed Anglicans, but they’re very liberal anglicans. It’s a shame the hierarchy doesn’t seem to reflect the views of the congregants.

@Lisa: Nice to see you posting here. If Sunny keeps going like this, every blogger in this constituency will have posted here at least once (Sunny, can give you a list of all the ones I’ve found if you want mate, you’re up to 4 now).

I think both she and you would benefit from informing yourself about Christianity before you attempt to critique it.

Red Maria, I see you’re still suffering from ‘frothing-at-mouth’ syndrome. The article does not criticise Christians in general at all. It criticises specific Christian groups for trying to politicise issues, trying to restrict rights of others, and trying to exert excessive influence on our politics.

Only idiots would read the article as an attack on all Christians and assume it is saying that all Christians think the same.

I have been following US politics for years now, and someone who supports the US right normally posts on here (conservative cabbie) which is why i’m here in the first place.

The major thing you are missing is the fact that the right wing USED the christanist (as l call them) vote to win elections and get right wingers to the polls. They never actually went through with all the truely regressive policies that the christainist right demanded.

Right now in the US the major problem is in Texas where the christianists have taken over the school board:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/13/texas-textbook-massacre-u_n_498003.html

Some really frightening stuff. These guys have removed Thomas Jefferson, one of the Founding Fathers and replaced him with John Calvin just because Jefferson was against the linking of Church and State and because Texas buys a lot of school books other states follow which means that the Teaxs decision affects the other states and what US children will be taught.

The power of the christianist right began to fail during the Terri Schiavo boondoggle:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/4358877.stm

where they had a massive over-reach in what they thought was their support but got their fingers burnt when people were horrified by the state interferring with what was a family matter, with Michael Schiavo being demonized by the entire christianist community and Rupert Murdoch’s Faux “News”.

Right now, with a Democratic Presidency, House and Senate, the passing of Healthcare Reform (which they opposed), the death of Jerry Falwell and the removal of James Dobson from his own christianist network the christianist right no longer have the influence they once had over there, but it looks like they are trying to make inroads here.

Sunny re: Comment 28,

Rather than say: “Only idiots would read the article as an attack on all Christians and assume it is saying that all Christians think the same.” you might think about writing a better headline which better reflects the intent of the article.

The headline was: “Is it time to push back on the ‘Christian vote’?”. Perhaps it should have referred to ‘the Christianist vote’ or ‘radical Christian vote’?.

But perhaps that wouldn’t have the desired impact.

TimW @21:

i’ve looked at this several different ways, and the only one that seems to make sense is that you are suggesting there has been a systematic, organised, massively enterprise-funded, 50-year campaign by neoPagans to infiltrate the publicly elected school-boards of Britain and use the government-funded brainwashing of children to influence future elections to local and national office, eventually bootstrapping that towards a goal of taking 100% of all elected offices everywhere on the globe, so that they can declare a theocratic species-wide dictatorship. And presumeably you’re accusing Tony Blair of having held regular weekly cabinet meetings which were opened by a Gaian prayer, and at which the current Chair of the Gaianist Federation was a contributing voice, unknown to the public.

Is that really what you’re saying? Given that Britain doesn’t organise schooling based on locally-elected, independent school boards, and that Tony Blair Doesn’t Do Goddess, that analysis seems a bit flawed.

And if it is what you really mean, do you really mean Gaia? I can think of only three religions that politicise their celebrants in this imperialist, One-True-Wayist, dogmatic and theocratic moud, and they all worship the same god.

So, either you’re making a substantive point I don’t understand or you’re committing arrant religious bigotry. Could you clarify?

“Is that really what you’re saying?”

Jonathan Porritt did get a job advising the government, yes, so that is what I’m saying.

🙂

s/moud/mold/ sorry about that.

Right. So, you are in fact a bigot. Thank you.

But Tim, does the government actually do anything substantial of what Porritt advises it to do. (No I don’t count setting targets.)

Actually feed-in tariffs, I’ll give you that, although they’ve been a long time coming. I’m with Monbiot (!) on them http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2010/03/01/a-great-green-rip-off/

Feed in tariffs are indeed a nonsense. How about recycling of domestic waste? No one ever counts the major cost of it, the amount of time households must take to do the sorting. that cost being greater than the rest of the entire waste disposal system.

Porritt goes on about creating “green jobs” without realising that jobs are a cost, not a benefit of a scheme. And there are any number who follow his lead on that.

I don’t spend any time sorting waste, I just put it in the correct bin when throwing it away.

“Porritt goes on about creating “green jobs” without realising that jobs are a cost, not a benefit of a scheme.”

So when we hear of a company “creating jobs” we have to realise that this is a cost, not a benefit of what they are doing?

The jobs are a cost to the company. Of course, the company only creates the jobs if they feel the benefit to them is greater than the cost.

If the jobs are created by the Govt to do work on our behalf, then we benefit from the work. The jobs are, however, a cost to us. If we want the Govt to be creating jobs in this way, and feel that that in and of itself is a good thing (a position I’m not sold on and I suspect Tim is vehemently oppowed to), then we have to acknowledge that creating those jobs is a cost.

The benefits, arguably, come elsewhere. They may be good benefits, but that’s what we should talk about.

I’ll see your Tim Montgomerie and raise you Tony Benn and Bruce Kent.

They don’t have the same level of influence I’d say

Since Lisa Ansell’s piece was the blogging equivalent of a savaging by a dead sheep, she is, for once, right when she says she wasn’t “attacking” Christianity. Indeed she wasn’t. Currently she doesn’t have the competence to do so. I hope this changes. She is invited to deepen her knowledge of the Christian faith at any time.

Christians don’t mind having their faith subjected to scrutiny and criticism. After 2000 years we’re more than used to it. Hence the art of apologetics. Naturally, though, we prefer, as anyone would, informed criticism. By all means let it be polemical and if the writer so feels, hostile to Christianity but let it at least be informed.

Neither Lisa Ansell nor Sunny Hundal have an informed knowledge of Christianity, therefore their critiques fall at the first hurdle.

Take for example Ansell’s contention that, “homophobia and restriction of abortion are not synonymous with the christian faith I know. No matter how much right wing lobby groups might say it is.”

First, the term homophobia is by its nature an elastic one. What one person considers to be homophobic, another may not. Hence it is difficult to ascertain Ansell’s precise meaning. If, however, she is of the view that Christian sexual ethics are a liberal confection and that, say, Evangelical Christians who consider same-sex eroticism to be sinful are fringe lunatics, she is sorely mistaken. Christian sexual morality, as outlined in Sacred Scripture and the churches’ constant traditions has always held that sex is licit only between married heterosexual couples.

Similarly, opposition to abortion has always been central to Christianity. From the First Century onwards as can be seen in the Didache, Christians have regarded the taking of life in the womb as gravely sinful. Groups like CCFON which express that view now are not marginal freaks, or abnormal Christians, on the contrary, they are well in the orthodox mainstream Christian tradition.

Is that all there is to Christianity? Of course not. The Christian tradition also includes Just War theory “ecclesia abhorret e sanguine”, an opposition to the oppression of the poor and championing of social progress (from Rerum Novarum and Quadraggesima Anno at one end, to Slave abolitionism and temperance at the other) all of which could be neatly wrapped up in the value Christians extol above all others: caritas, or love. Yet equally the traditional Christian view of sex should not be airbrushed from the picture nor should Churches be portrayed as nothing more than glorified social-welfare organisations.

I’ll see your Tim Montgomerie and raise you Tony Benn and Bruce Kent.

They don’t have the same level of influence I’d say

That might be because they’re fairly long in the tooth. Tony Benn was a cabinet minister and once mounted a serious challenge for the Labour Party’s deputy leadership. Bruce Kent was general secretary and later chair of CND. These are hardly positions without political influence.

And what’s the big deal about organisations like the CMF and CCFON’s involvement in political lobbying? All sorts of organisations lobby governments for this or that policy change. That’s the nature of our democracy.

MattBG’s got it.

Building windmills may be a wonderful idea (umm, we’ll accept this for the sake of the argument shall we?). Hiring 2,3 million people to build them might also be a wonderful idea.

But hiring those 2.3 million people is a cost of building windmills, not a benefit.

The importance comes when we try to decide whether building windmills is a good idea or not. We must measure whether we’d prefer to have the windmills or whatever else it is that the 2.3 million people could have built for us instead.

Thus the labour of the 2.3 million must be accounted for as a cost of having windmills, not as a benefit of having them.

The 2.3 million could have been curing cancer, building new homes or pacifying babies after all.

This “but look at the green jobs” is a very common mistake that’s made in enviro circles, from Geoffrey Lean though to Caroline Lucas. She once said on Today that green energy was lovely because it was more labour intensive. Well, yes, hooking bicycles with dynamos up to the National Grid is even more labour intensive, we’d need all 65 million of us just to power the BBC’s radio stations. But we acknowledge that this is a cost we probably don’t want to pay just for the BBC.

Labour, jobs, are a cost not a benefit.

Red Maria, glad someone has actually posted an accurate reflection of christian beliefs relating to issues such as abortion and homosexuality. The usual contortions posters on here go through to come up with an interpretation of christian doctrine which they think might be acceptable to readers are laughable.

The fact that you have identified yourself as someone who subscribes to these views, unfortunately for you, identifies you as an idiot. There are slightly nicer ways to put this (deluded, intellectually challenged etc) but I’ll stick with idiot. It doesn’t leave any room for doubt, does it?

You believe, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, in the existence of an entity you call god. You believe that the entity created the earth and all things in/on it and left a set of largely arbitrary rules to a bronze age tribe. Many years later, the entity impregnated a virgin from the same tribe and the product of that impregnation was eventually tortured to death. You see this as having some kind of significance for humanity as a whole. As stated above, you have no actual evidence for any aspect of your belief (delusion would be more accurate) and, in fact, the only support you can muster comes from two sets of writings, one originating with the bronze age tribe and known as the old testament and the other purporting to be a set of accurate accounts of the life of the guy who was tortured to death but, in fact, written over a hundred years after his death. Both sets of writings are internally inconsistent. Both sets of writings contradict each other. The second set of writings was abritrarily chosen several hundred years after they were written and the versions in use by different sects of your bizarre cult differ greatly. You have not read any of the writings in their original languages.

That pretty much sums up why you’re an idiot. Now go away and stop posting shite.

Red Maria@41, by what authority do you declare that certain views on sexuality are intrinsic to Christianity? It seems to me that not all Christians follow authorities that endorse those views – and therefore not all are deemed Christians by other Christians. But I think the only meaningful test of Christianity that can be used in a public discourse is whether somebody self-identifies as Christian.

On the narrow point of abortion, what was the reason for the change in church doctrine, in the Middle Ages, whereby the humanity of the foetus was deemed to begin at conception rather than quickening? The fuss about conception is not an original Christian doctrine but an interim fabrication.

In other news, they’ve found Noah’s Ark

Oh, and Red Maria: Matthew 22:21. That is all.

@Sunny
If you want someone more up to date, and not a million miles away from the LibCon worldview, I can offer you Jon Cruddas and Charles Kennedy. Both practicing Catholics, which might surprise the “Friday night at the Orange Hall” crowd we sometimes find around here.

Generally, a bit of nuance never hurts. You know much better than me that there are plenty of wingnuts in the Sikh community; you also know the difference between criticising the wingnuts on the one hand, and the deployment of stereotypes as a weapon to bash minorities on the other. Where I live in Belfast, that sort of thing has been known to get people killed, which is maybe why I get irritated by it.

Madeup, are you seriously suggesting that the 2 billion plus human beings who claim to be Christians are all idiots? Because that’s the impression your post conveys.

You don’t know anything about the evidence that led Christians such as myself or Red Maria to believe. Christians believe for a variety of reasons. The Bible (for which the case is a lot stronger than you admit) is only one. There is also the evidence of personal experience and the experiences of others. Some even come to it through careful reasoning.

Please don’t assume that because somebody has a different worldview to you that they must be idiots, it is insulting and reflects far more badly on you than it does on them.

@48 The evidence that led you to be christians? The evidence for the bible? You mean that in an ironic sense, don’t you?

I think you must be confusing evidence for something quite different. Personal experience, is that the best you can do? There is no evidence to support a belief in the existence of god. If you have any, point to it. There really isn’t a case for the bible either, but by all means, go on thinking there is.

If you want to engage in the practice of superstition, feel free to do so, provided you don’t harm others while you’re doing it. You have every right to pretend that a bloke getting nailed to a bit of wood two thousand years ago has some moral/philosophical significance. You have every right to believe that the same bloke’s mother never had sex with a man. Like tarot, throwing salt over your left shoulder and believing in alien abduction, your particular eccentricity is one of those currently viewed by society as harmless and not requiring confinement to an institution under the provisions of the mental health act. Just don’t forget that there’s as much logic in it as tarot and throwing salt over your left shoulder. I’ve left out alien abduction as I think there’s a slightly better case for it than christianity.

Does that answer your question?

Madeup,

For someone so certain that they are right you sure sound angry. You appear to think RedMaria’s faith in Christianity is reason enough to call her an idiot.

Since when did you stop saying: “I disagree” or “I think you are wrong”? (that assumes you might be so charitable towards people who don’t agree with you).

Oh the joys of secular certainty.

I’m not angry at all.

I don’t think she’s wrong. I know she is.

I dunno why the far-right Christians get themselves in such a tizz about blokes shagging blokes, I really don’t. The only thing the Bible says about it all is around the same bits as where it condemns sons being drunk (punishable by death, how’s that for zero tolerance), not wearing mixed fibres, and avoiding women when they are on their period.
If anything, Christianists are slackers for not living up to these rules… 😉

Oh and the funniest/weirdest is probably Deuteronomy 25:11-12 “If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.”

Anyway. Point is: lots of the Bible is a load of crap. Some bits are good, some general truisms, and some fun stories and parables. But the Church would do well to drop the baggage of the early laws (and St Peter’s misogyny while we’re at it).

OK, madeup? You’re going a bit far down the abusive line now. I pretty much agree with you, but I also know a large number of devout, liberal Christians, for some of whom the belief is born from “personal revelation”.

If they honestly believe they’ve talked to “God”, I have no evidence to prove them wrong; do you? Even Dawkins doesn’t go that far.

I think RedMaria is a homophobe using belief to justify bigotry, but just because she’s obviously wrong, doesn’t mean you have to abuse all believers.

Besides, absolute certainty without evidence is the antithesis of liberalism, but, y’know, you don’t have to be liberal to comment here, just respect the house rules.

MattGB, telling me I’m not able to prove something’s not true/doesn’t exist doesn’t really mean much, does it? I’m not able to prove that there isn’t a giant invisible donkey with a magic forcefield that makes it impossible for scientific instruments to detect it’s presence floating above London right now. The fact that I can’t prove it isn’t there doesn’t mean I should give it the benefit of the doubt or treat with respect someone’s deeply held conviction that it exists. Or perhaps you think it does. Are you familiar with Bertrand Russell’s giant teapot argument? If not, you should make yourself familiar with it.

What was abusive about my posts? The comparison of christianity with superstition? I think that’s not only valid but obvious. The mental illness metaphor? Again, I think that’s valid on a number of levels. My usee of the word “idiot”? Oh come on. I’ve seen a lot of regulars on this forum use far worse words than that. What is it about christians that you feel the need to defend them? Can’t they defend themselves? After all, if they’re right, god’s on their dside, so what could I possibly say that could hurt them. If I deployed similar tactics against a Green Party supporter or a monarchist would you be so quick to gallop to the rescue like the internet knight you obviously take yourself to be? Getover yourself, mate.

Oh, and if you’re going to make references to Dawkins, it would pay to actually read some of his books. That’s exactly how far he goes.

The only argument for it is a moral one- and there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that women are not morally competent to decide for themselves.

That begs the question of whether a fetus should only be considered as part of the mother’s body. If you’re assuming that, while it’s in the womb, it simply falls within her purview then you’ve got no reason to consider “scientific or medical argument[s]“, because, under that assumption, time limits are necessarily invalid: abortion’s her decision right up to its independence. I won’t press the point, because I haven’t really got an opinion. “Pro-life” types, however, aren’t necessarily stupid or fanatical.

Are you familiar with Bertrand Russell’s giant teapot argument? If not, you should make yourself familiar with it.

Russell’s Teapot: Does it Hold Water?

I’m not religious, but if those who profess to be are necessarilyidiots” I’d like to congratulate nonbelievers on besting lesser minds like – ooh, I don’t know – Aquinas, Aristotle, Plato, St. Francis…

@Madeup
You’re confusing “evidence you don’t find convincing” with “no evidence at all”. I’m a Christian because I believe that evidence of all the kinds I mentioned adds up to a more persuasive case than the alternatives. You are an atheist or agnostic because you are not convinced of that evidence. That doesn’t make either of us idiots, it merely means that one or both of us is mistaken in our interpretation of the available evidence.

I could enter into a big debate with you about the evidence, but this is not really the appropriate place, and it would be very unlikely to change either of our opinions in the matter. So I’ll just politely request that you consider the possibility that somebody who isn’t an idiot could genuinely come to believe that Christianity (or, indeed, any other religious belief) is true.

What I find breathtakingly strange here is the idea that truth in general is so manifest that anybody who has their facts wrong must be an idiot.

Surely there are enough smart people on both sides of most questions (whether religious, political, philosophical or whatever) for it to be clear that truth in general is elusive, and that error is not a consequence of idiocy or sin.

@ Joe Otten: I would have thought it obvious that I stand by the authority of the Magisterium. But if you’re asking a broader question about Christianity, I would refer you to the Nicene Creed. Contrary to your suggestion that self-identification makes one a Christian, which it does not, Christianity does have a definitive set of doctrines to which Christians must adhere, the belief in a Triune God being just one example. Hence Jehovahs’s Witnesses are not Christians but modern day Arians. If you want a summary of Christian beliefs, I would refer you to the Nicene Creed.

You’ve got the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life all wrong, by the way. You’ve mixed up Aristotelian ensoulment theory, which has never been required Church teaching, with the Church’s constant prohibition on abortion. You should avoid regurgitating junk history and read more widely. Start with St Basil the Great.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Is it time to push back on the 'Christian vote'? http://bit.ly/aXfQNv

  2. House Of Twits

    RT @libcon Is it time to push back on the 'Christian vote'? http://bit.ly/aXfQNv

  3. Kim Lofthouse

    RT @libcon: Is it time to push back on the 'Christian vote'? http://bit.ly/aXfQNv

  4. Carrie Schneider

    Liberal Conspiracy » Is it time to push back on the 'Christian vote'?: Lisa Ansell's piece is hopelessly badly-wri… http://bit.ly/bPMWFN

  5. Naadir Jeewa

    Reading: Is it time to push back on the ‘Christian vote’?: contribution by Lisa Ansell
    The web of right-wing Chris… http://bit.ly/cx7UDH

  6. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by libcon: Is it time to push back on the ‘Christian vote’? http://bit.ly/aXfQNv

  7. Lisa

    Also http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/04/26/is-it-time-to-push-back-on-the-christian-vote/

  8. Lisa

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/04/26/is-it-time-to-push-back-on-the-christian-vote/ On Lib Con.

  9. Caroline Farrow

    @Michael_Merrick you mean this little nugget http://t.co/8nGJhPi

  10. Little Miss Apopletic « The Catechesis of Caroline

    […] error. Without naming Lisa I linked to one of her articles from Liberal Conspiracy which stated that it was time to push back on the Christian vote.  one which had received universal condemnation, both in terms of the content and the poor quality […]

  11. Little Miss Apoplectic « The Catechesis of Caroline

    […] error. Without naming Lisa I linked to one of her articles from Liberal Conspiracy which stated that it was time to push back on the Christian vote. one which had received universal condemnation, both in terms of the content and the poor quality of […]

  12. Clare

    @dolphinmaria Fancy a little nostalgic trip down memory lane? Here's a link from back in th day. Smokin' combox! Enjoy. http://t.co/J4WZBL6w





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