It’s the hunting season again.
With the Tory party in the throes of choosing a new leader its time for our PC secularists to start trawling the web in order to find dark and hidden secrets of the various candidates. Have they ever lied in the past? Cheated on their taxes? Kicked the cat? Gone fox hunting?
But the big sin - the one that guarantees the Twitterati and Fackbook pages go ballistic - is ‘are they Christian?'. Like, really Christian. Not David Cameron's ‘my faith is like the patchy reception of Magic FM in the Chilterns'. Instead, a Christian who actually reads the Bible(!), goes to church(!) and even prays!!!
If so, they must be hunted down and burnt at the secular stake.
The two remaining Tory candidates are both women and practicing Christians. Cue mass hysteria in the media among those who think that the only good thing Alastair Campbell said was 'we don’t do God'.
Although Teresa May is a vicar’s daughter it appears that it is the other candidate, Andrea Leadsom, who is the main target of the mockery and abuse.
In an interview (see below) she did earlier this week Channel 4's Gary Gibbon asked her: 'Do you ever think that you have been spoken to directly by God?'.
Isn’t that an innocent question seeking to ascertain a candidate’s motivation? No. It is an accusation, not a question. It's along the lines of ‘what kind of religious nutter are you?’
Many moons ago I stood as Social Democrat candidate for the Senior Presidency of Edinburgh University. I was one of the favourites and approached the election day with some confidence until at the final hustings the editor of the student newspaper asked; 'Did God ask David Robertson to stand?'. I knew then that my political career was over. Not so much because of the meeting but because I knew that most of the students who voted did not know the candidates and usually went by the student newspaper guide which was posted at every election station.
Sure enough, in the election edition I was described as an extreme left-winger economically and an extreme right-winger morally. Who was going to vote for a cross between Jeremy Corbyn and Ian Paisley?!
Damned if you do, damned if you don't
In today's world the situation is made worse. No sooner is a lie, innuendo or character slur uttered than it is being retweeted and messaged all over the place. People who know nothing about a politician suddenly become experts on their motivation, psychology and weirdness. And so Angela Leadsom’s heart must have sunk when she got that question. It is the classic ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ question.
She answered it very well, pointing out the mocking nature of the question and simply stating that she was proud to be a Christian but was not claiming divine warrant for every one of her opinions and actions. 'I always try to ensure that I'm doing what I think God would want me to do'.
But it is enough that she professes to be a Christian who actually attends a parliamentary Bible study. I knew that before the night was out the inevitable tweets would arrive. And then in the morning the sneering mocking columns in the broadsheets. And then the hate mail and mockery on social media. They all arrived. She was accused of having ‘an extremist Christian agenda', putting her on par with ISIS. 'It’s a disgrace that someone of these views can be considered acceptable in modern Britain'.
Prejudice against women and Christians
It's helpful for us to understand the psyche and intolerant mind-set of modern ‘liberal’ Britain, to realise that there is still a prejudice against women - a prejudice that works in the same way as it does against Christians. Because although there is a general admission that we need more women, it doesn’t mean all women.
Brendan O’Neill makes the point well when he writes: 'We need more women in politics! Oh, but not Andrea Leadsom, because she doesn't like gay marriage. Or Gisela Stuart, because she is anti-EU. Or Kate Hoey, because she got on a boat with Nigel Farage. Or Thatcher, because she was a capitalist. Or libertarian women, because they think Page 3 is okay. Or white working-class women, because they voted against the EU even though it guarantees their rights, I mean how dumb can you get. We need more women like ME in politics!'
We are quite happy to have people of faith in politics, including Christians. As long as they are Christians like us.
It is the same with Christians. We are quite happy to have people of faith in politics, including Christians. As long as they are Christians like us. They must accept all our doctrines and beliefs, or we will hound them and hunt them down. We will use the mainstream media and the social media mob to attack, mock and abuse. They haven’t a chance. Let the witch-hunt begin.
If there is any danger that someone who does not agree with this not-so-liberal-agenda might get elected, then of course they must be neutered. It seems as though every potential political leader has to be approved by PinkNews. Same Sex Marriage is the shibboleth issue that they can all be attacked on.
Witness poor Stephen Crabb, being forced to confess he was wrong about Same Sex Marriage and promising to introduce it to Northern Ireland. Witness the frightened party candidate who asked me to remove their name from a blog I had written seven years earlier, in case their Party HQ got sent a copy of it sent by one of the gay activist groups who trawl the internet, sniffing out any connection at all with homophobia or 'extremist militant Christian groups' which apparently includes CARE, SU and UCCF! Yes – we really are at that level of thought police and intimidation.
If we allow Christians to be manipulated, bullied and excluded in this way, then it will happen to others as well
What should a Christian response be? Prayer? Of course. Sorrow? Indeed. Retaliation? Despair? Capitulation? Never. Never. Never.
Instead we must love our enemies, pray for those who misuse and abuse us and stand up for all in our society. Because the real truth is that if we allow Christians to be manipulated, bullied and excluded in this way, then it will happen to others as well. Liberal utopians are not democrats, although they are happy with democracy and freedom as long as it gives them what they want. But if it goes against their wishes they become autocrats who believe that only they and their values (rights?) really matter.
Peter Hitchens summed it up rather nicely. 'The Christian religion has become the principal obstacle to the desire of earthly utopians for absolute power'. Let us continue to be that obstacle and a door to something better. Let us pray that we will still have a democracy where people can be voted for on the basis of their character and politics, rather than because they have money, belong to the Establishment, have the ‘right’ pre-approved opinions, or have given in to the power of the mob. Let truth and justice prevail!