Nothing if not comical

Alan Craig: man of dogAs with most of the politically involved in the UK, I’ve been paying close attention to the mayoral elections. I’d have been out campaigning in some London borough or other if I didn’t have so much bureaucracy to wade through from university. Anyway, recent news is that Matt O’Connor, candidate for the English Democrats, has dropped out of the race, citing frustration with the extent to which he was going to get a pasting.

More interesting still have been the comments of “Christian Choice” candidate, Alan Craig. The whole issue of Christianity as a political identity is amply challenged by Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society over on Comment is Free. Sanderson, as part of the NSS probably doesn’t want to take the gloves off, so it falls to us mere mortals to have a much less gracious poke at this Craig chappy and his bag of tricks.

Firstly, he’s a bit of a political lightweight. Having read the websites of the groups who nominated him (1, 2), I’m pretty certain this guy doesn’t actually have any concrete policies. He’s come out in favour of more housing and using London’s £10 bn budget to “support social relationships” but there’s nothing comprehensive. The only thing he really talks about is “Oh noez!!! Muslims!!!111” as regards the Olympic Mega-Mosque.

Maybe I’m being a bit too harsh. He does talk about other things. For example, he’s borrowed the American fundamentalist Christian obsession about “aggressive secularism” and how it is rampaging through our society. At the risk of encroaching upon Godwin’s Law, people like this must have some sort of ingrained psychosis. Before I continue, however, it might be enlightening to have Craig’s words set down.

“The damage that has been done to our capital, the damage that has been done to our society is because of an aggressive, materialistic and selfish secular agenda…Christianity is being written out of the national script,” he said.

“Freedoms that come from our Judeo-Christian heritage are being closed out,” he added, referring to the Sexual Orientation Regulations which make it impossible for Catholic adoption agencies to refuse to place children in same-sex families.

When a member of the audience later challenged Mr Craig on why he was running for mayor on an explicitly Christian ticket, he answered, “Each of the parties has said goodbye to their Christian roots.”

Addressing Christian MPs within the mainstream parties, he said, “I see no evidence that they are standing up for broad Christian values.” (Source)

Apparently Ruth Kelly and the other pro-faith school, anti-scientific research bunch just aren’t extreme enough. I’m so tired of being lectured on the Judeo-Christian heritage rubbish. Britain contains such blinkered twits and we still allow anyone to run for public office?! I’m joking obviously, but still, it should give us pause for thought when measuring parallels between US Christian crusades (e.g.) and our homegrown variety.

I’ll agree with Alan Craig at this point; freedom to discriminate against homosexuals is certainly part of our Judeo-Christian heritage. Much like burning witches at the stake, or executing Catholics. It’s a part of our heritage we’re getting rid of. So many of these Christians pick what they like, what’s palatable, as part of “heritage” and the rest is “what bad people did in the name of religion.” It’s blatant hypocrisy.

With all the people out there who make it their business to call the conspiracy theorists on their paranoid claptrap, it’s a wonder no one has denounced Alan Craig. A “secular agenda”? What, does he think we meet up every other week and discuss how best to reduce the influence of religion in the world? Oh wait…we do. Of course we do. If it means we won’t have elected officials trying to ram Jesus down our throats, of course we do.

Overall, we’re winning too. The increasing right wing radicalism of religion in the US, backed by US government funds, Israeli government funds and the funds of corporations across the USA is still a threat. Someone once said if we ever see an American fascist dictatorship, it’ll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a crucifix – and they were right. Yet the fightback is under way, regardless of how disorganised it currently is.

Across the developed world, and the under-developed one, people have been rising up to deal with political issues and coming together across religious divides. From food riots in Haiti to the general strike in Lebanon to the protests at Chinese tyranny in Tibet across the world. These are secular, left wing movements which ethically and morally motivate our young people – freeing them from the stiff dogmas of an outgrown past.

We should be under no illusions. I’ll say this once; the religious often play a progressive role. Is there anything more uplifting than the LGBTQ mass services in Westminster, the home of arch-bigot, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor? Religion is stifling and religious people don’t need to ground their progressive views in it. Like all heritage, there’s a time to let go. For religion that time has long since passed.

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  1. April 29, 2008 at 12:40 am

    Thanks David for that post is was interesting reading. I’m not writing to to persuade you but merely to show that there is more than one way of looking at the world.

    Talk to the people down on the ground in Newham before passing judgment.

    What would be the point of him being comprehensive in a race he can’t win? If you look at older CPA manifestos you can see much more costed polices if you keen on that, but they just get ignored anyway. His aim is being a moral voice assembly.

    You say the only thing he talks about is the mosque but what about crime he is there only candidate I know of raising issues of SUS, the only one with first hand experience of dealing with drug addicts, and ex offenders and having polices to match.

    I think you pick the wrong parallel, Alan’s politics is model on European Christan’s democrats not American Republicans. If you look at the polices they are actually largely left of centre, who else has the guts to say refugees shuold be respected? His party was the first UK party to oppose the war in Iraq.

    I don’t believe secularism is a big conspiracy (and I doubt Alan does) but there is a cultural drift and often the elite in our society, are not in the same place as the masses. The people in Government and media forget that London is a religious city, there are ethnic minority churches packed to the rafters etch Sunday. These are aggressively being pushed out of their properties. What motivates that sometimes ignorance sometimes malice. I think it is this is what he is referring to.

    There is also a case for a bit of what Chomski calls “Engineering consent” going on. Which is a bit too conspiracy theory, but not should be completely disregarded.

  2. April 29, 2008 at 8:04 am

    Chomsky calls it manufacturing consent, if I recall correctly but I take your point. Anyway, allow me to try and reply?

    You should be writing to persuade me; I know there’s more than one way of looking at the world. I simply think that mine is right. If you think that yours is correct, then you should try and persuade me. I’ll respect you more for it. It seems more honest somehow.

    Anyway, in terms of being comprehensive, I can only argue from my point of view and that of people I know. I’ve had extensive involvement with small political parties, particularly on the far left but also the Greens. I have always been more convinced by those who can see their goal but explain what they’re going to do in the interim if, by some freak chance, they get elected to office.

    Regardless of this, I think it is difficult to establish Alan as left-of-centre. In the USA and elsewhere, there is a certain brand of right wing politician who is coming to realise that immigrants aren’t going anywhere. John McCain has said a lot of things about immigrants which the core of his party don’t like, but which will allow him to pick up a few million liberal votes.

    Anyway, on refugees, plenty of people say refugees should be respected. In fact, pretty much the entire Trade Union movement, the entire youth of Labour not to mention the various socialist parties campaign vigorously on this issue. We have in fact campaigned so hard that we often succeed in preventing the government sending back gay people to countries like Iran, where they will almost surely be imprisoned.

    Neither of your parties would be among the first to oppose Iraq. You may not know this, but years before the invasion, there were groups which knew the government was going to invade Iraq. The Stop the War Coalition march in February 2003 didn’t magically happen. Some of us were preparing for that march for years. After September 11th 2001, the Socialist Party and others were well ahead of the curve – and they were right. And no, I’m not a member.

    For all this, you manage to gloss over that Alan Craig is an exclusively “Christian” candidate. Even if he wasn’t, even he represented all strains of Christianity or all religions, that still falls short of explaining why he should be an elected representative. People’s religion shouldn’t decide their politics: that way madness lies. All one has to do is look at our “Judeo-Christan heritage” to see that.

    This “moral voice” which you want in the Assembly believes that practising homosexuals are sinners. He believes that parents have the right to indoctrinate their children by sending them to faith schools. Don’t even get me started on the CPA position on marriage. I come from a single parent family and I’ll put my boot in the face of anyone who asserts based on ‘sociological evidence’ that my parents should have remained married or attempted to bribe them to do so.

    I have more to say on the subject of marriage but I’ll leave it there for now.

    Finally on elites and so on; I’m a Marxist. Of course people are disconnected from the people who run the country. That doesn’t mean we should be encouraging a religious agenda. A radical democracy, absolutely, but separation of church and state, religion and politics.

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