Nothing if not comical
As 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.