When I was at school, I drew something similar to this on my Religious Education exercise book. Except that mine just said, “Pass The Gin.” My teacher punished me for blasphemy and said I had to either cover my exercise book or obliterate the drawing. I chose a sharpened compass point for the latter task, with the result that the entire book was destroyed. From that day to this, I’ve loved atheist cartoons.
My all time favourite atheist cartoon fun was a website which existed in the late 1990s which Jesusified any website. You pasted the URL into it and it produced an alternative version of the site with cartoons of Jesus all over it and much of the original text all muddled up with biblical language appearing in speech bubbles from his mouth. Very sadly, that site is no longer available. Similar corruption sites are available without the cartoons. For example, here’s my post from Saturday having been fed through a redneck filter. You get the idea.
Your enthronement in the Church of England job this morning prompts me into sharing some of my ecclesiastical wisdom with you. I am, after all, a slightly more experienced Archbishop. True, as Archbishop of Southover Bonfire Society, I only work one day a year but I have already given the top sermon and under what is generally accepted to be much harsher conditions than any lad in Canterbury will ever face down.
Not that it matters who is the hardest Archbishop. It’s not a competition. I wish you all the very best, as I’m sure you do me. You must be pretty good, what with having only worn the Bishops slightly less impressive pointy hat for a year and been an oilman before that. So from Archbishop to another, here’s a couple of tips to theological success.
First up, I’d advise getting used to crowd situations. I’m not sure whether you’ll ever have to deal with them very much in the dark but let’s assume you are. All around you there are people, your very congregation, making mischief with your manliness, so much that you can go deaf and as well as mad. My advice here is to wear ear plugs. Or perhaps you’ll skip through the crowds, in your somewhat gentler flock.
Secondly, you’ll be called upon to wax lyrical about spiritual shit on important occasions. Down here in Southover, we commemorate martyrs who gave up their lives, after much cruel punishment, for the right to read the Bible in English, instead of Latin. Their collective punishment reminds us most painfully of all the struggles around the world, for liberty. They died at the stake for what we believe in. Obviously, I have to admit that here our spiritual messages depart. Your predecessors have all (okay, I haven’t checked but I reckon it is all) blessed soldiers going off to murder people. Let’s be clear about that, the law says that it is murder but the soldiers have the ‘defence of war’. Sure, they might well be fighting in a just cause but it is their success, their glory that gets blessed, not their deaths. Allow me to be blunt here, if I might be so bold, your message here is there’s that commandment ~ thou shalt not kill ~ and, face it, you’re going to bless that. It doesn’t make any sense. Why not switch into not blessing wars and killing and all the bad stuff?
Well, I can’t chat all night. I’ve got a few other ideas but hey, perhaps you’d like to give me some tips on constructing good speeches. I didn’t get much of mine out this year. Frankly, it was too noisy. That said, my Commander in Chief (Have you got one?), said I could have amplification next year, so that could make a difference. All the same, I really could do with some help. Perhaps a consultancy role for yourself? You could come this year (its on a school night, I know, but I guarantee Lewes would give you a right and proper welcome), kick about around the town for a bit and then come up for a view from our clergy stand. Then afterwards we could have an Archbishop’s conference to discuss best strategy and tactics. Tennis rackets or giant strengthened leather cuffs? Grills or boarding underfoot? I’ll tell the other Archbishops in Lewes (there’s seven of us down here, sorry to brag) and put some diary dates to avoid aside. That’s great then, I’m looking forward to hearing from you already. A consultancy. Just imagine it.
England has long prided itself on religious freedom. You can believe whatever you want, so long as it doesn’t break the laws of the land. Even then, you can expect certain allowances to be made for you, for example in the case of halal meat. You can slag off and lampoon other people’s Gods, beliefs and practises. You can call anyone you want a sinner. No-one’s going to notice.
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster started out as a spoof religion, intended to mock other religions but still provide the essential comfort blanket (“the opium of the masses“, to borrow Engel’s famous expression) which the insecure and needy people seem to benefit from. It’s a pretty easy faith to get into, arguably even easier than the Hare Krishna thing. Presumably, they thought that they had cornered the market for religious simplicity: they’ve got that song (a simple song) and they give food away to whoever wants it. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) has simplified the whole thing even further. To join, you just have declare that you are a pastafarian and that’s it, you’re in. They don’t even require you to believe in the FSM, just as there are many so-called Christians who are not True Believers of many parts of the bible.
Nico Alm, a driver in Austria
However, what began as a spoof religion has now gathered many adherents. They have been attracted by the simple fact that no-one ever started a war or killed anyone in the name of pasta. They have created their own propaganda machine, with desktop graphics, flyers, brochures, giant posters and they even get their own hate mail. What may have started as mockery has now become meaningful. An Austrian has now used the force of law to force that country’s authorities to accept a photograph of himself wearing a colander as an item of religious headgear, in much the same manner as a Sikh wears a turban. No-one can doubt his devotion to the great being that was boiled for our sins.
Unsurprisingly, there are pastafarians in Brighton. I know because right up until I deleted my account Facebook account, I was repeatedly shown photographs of people wearing sieves and other metal strainers on their heads. As explained above, this is the recognised costume of the pastafarian. The FSM’s Church doesn’t have any formal hierarchy in the way that the older, more established religions do. There’s is a more democratic, more simple faith to practise. All they have to do is gather around a bowl of pasta and tuck in. Looks like I am one of them? Chances are, you are too.
Last year there was a minor political fuss because some clever sod in Devon noticed that the laws governing local government did not empower them to hold prayers or any kind of religious service, after formally summoning the councillors to work. Thus, in Bideford Town Council, prayers were cancelled. Predictably, the Christian Right hit the button for the warning siren, even though they hadn’t cared that much when the Local Government Act 1972 was passed.
Here in Brighton & Hove, we’ve long sussed out that kind of nonsense. Consequently, prayers are said before the councillors are summonsed to their official duties. On the ground, some Tories and some Labour councillors attend these religious sessions but none of the Greens do. The only independent councillor attends them too. As if further proof of Brighton & Hove’s groovy attitude to matters spiritual, we have a rolling programme of different religious leaders to lead the proceedings.
Thus, although there are no Hindu councillors, those wishing to attend the religious preface to the formal business of running the city, have on at least one occasion been obliged to sit through a chat by a Hindu sage. Apparently some of the Tories severed the ends of the tongues with their own teeth during that session. Seriously, though, if they are prepared to sit through that reincarnation nonsense which literally none of them believe in, surely they would be prepared to eat a bowl of pasta and give thanks to the Flying Spaghetti Monster?
This is the way for religion to go now. If religious disciples can partake in inter-faith dialogues which involve eating pasta and respecting the right of others to believe in a God manifested in a mixture of wheat and water and pressed into convenient shapes, then they are welcome in our civil society. If they cannot countenance that civilisation could include the curl of a strand of spaghetti around a fork, then they are bigots and unwelcome in my home town.
Expect a sermon from the man in the quality colander
Here’s the challenge. I want to see all the religious councillors in Brighton & Hove, eating from a big bowl of pasta, immediately before a meeting of the full council, in the name of pastafarianism within a year of today. If they can’t stomach that, then they can kindly take their prejudice and their prayers off somewhere else and not spoil our public building with them. I’ll happily lead the service for them. I know how to cook pasta. If they can eat one of my pasta dishes, they might not become enlightened but they will be justified in claiming that they welcome all forms of faith to their tables.
As regular readers will know, I am currently ill. However, I haven’t given up the ghost yet! Whilst I’m too ill to write my usual carefully constructed posts, I’m not too ill to watch and share videos mocking religious people who want to impose their own fucked up morality on the rest of us. Yes, you know the people I’m talking about. The people who don’t get enough sex and want to stop the rest of us from enjoying it. What could more more touching than this short clip?
What could more mocking that this next clip? I admire all the trouble these people have taken to set up some kind of transparent walkway, just so that they can dupe some gullible fools into believing that with the right footwear, physical training and mental attitude they too can walk (or, rather, run) on water. Way to go!
It is important not to overlook the advantages of religion. It gets you from one place to another, when other forms of transport seem too uncomfortable. Oppenheimer certainly had good reason to struggle to explain himself.
That said, religious maniacs can often travel far together, when it is convenient.
This next video spells out just exactly how immoral the bible is. All of it. It is a bit American for my tastes but so what? They seem to have more problems with religious nutters than we do over here in Europe. I confess that I didn’t realise that Jesus preached self harm.
The bible’s use of overt language means that the only way a follower of the Abrahamic faiths can be moderate is to deny the ordinary meaning of the words. which is precisely what they do.
What is it with these bible bashers anyway? Do they really think that without their moral guidance, we’d go off the rails altogether? Whatever gives them that idea?
Finally, for now, imagine a heaven without freedom of thought, unless you can afford it. Let’s face it, our society worships money and the church’s are no exception. If they didn’t, they sell every last building and give the money to the poor.
If only we had to wait for the digital afterlife to suffer these restrictions. If you’re a bit gullible, you can suffer them now.
Unfortunately for the religious brigade, mere gullibility doesn’t provide you with the tools needed to work your way into heaven. I’d like to hear a preacher explain the following problems away. Yes, I’ve searched for the other point of view but, as you might expect, the believers are somewhat quiet about these obstacles.
Christina Summers has lost her internal Green Party appeal against her exclusion from the Green Group of Councillors on Brighton & Hove City Council. She remains a member of the Green Party but she can no longer be party to the discussions between her erstwhile councillor colleagues sitting on the Council.
Christian Concern ignored the facts of her case. Instead, its media briefings appeared to argue that Ms Summers could disregard the specific pledges she had made to the Green Party, as if Christians had the right to escape contracts that they had entered into if they later decided they conflicted with their religious beliefs. This is, of course, bad law. There is no special category of Christian Contracts.
Very soon afterwards, Ms Summers told the local rag that she had been sent intimidating emails by Green Party members but, despite that being clearly a criminal allegation, my Freedom of Information Act request to Sussex Police has revealed that no-one has made any official complaint about those allegations. Whether Ms Summers’ doesn’t believe that the police should be employed in respect of criminal allegations must remain a matter of speculation. Certainly, she is happy to use the press. Long before the disciplinary panel reached its conclusion, Ms Summers had engaged in a war of press briefings against the Green Party, all of which was by Christian Concern. Those misleading media briefings have continued up until the present day.
Exclusion From Green Group On Council Only
On 17th September 2012, the Green Group of councillors met to discuss the disciplinary panel’s recommendation that Ms Summers be excluded from their midst, which they followed, after a lengthy meeting. Immediately after their decision, Ms Summers announced that she would appeal. Despite having been advised by the CLC for some time, she dragged out the proceedings for as long as possible by submitting her appeal on the last day allowed by the Green Party’s constitution.
The Latest Development
I am informed that Ms Summers presented 12 grounds of appeal to the Green Party’s national appeal panel. It decided that three of these grounds were outside of its jurisdiction and dismissed all of the other 9 grounds. None of these grounds have been made public. Ms Summers sorry saga has now been reported across the web, courtesy of briefings from the CLC and its media crew. The line she takes is that she is “consulting with lawyers over this fundamental breach of a human right”. Here’s Christian Concern’s web page reporting the story:
Christian Concern reports legal nonsense. Click to enlarge.
This is absolute nonsense. Nowhere in this report is the particular human right said to be in issue actually cited. That’s because there isn’t one. The decision to exclude someone from a political party’s elected representatives is a political decision which all political parties take from time to time. In other parties, this is usually referred to as ‘losing the whip’. No-one ever claims that their human rights have been breached. A legal consultation over whether a complaint based on human rights can be made in this scenario would only take as long it takes to ask the question and received the answer, “no”.
Christian Legal Centre Fights Unwinnable Cases
The Christian Legal Centre has a poor track record of success. Previously, its media crew has reported that Ms Summers was considering judicial review of the Green’s decision to chuck her out of their councillors in Brighton & Hove. Again, that consideration should only have taken 5 seconds. Lawyers have a word for legal claims based on misunderstandings of law: woo. That’s putting it politely. The Christian Legal Centre uses false arguments and woo to generate media reports, safe in the knowledge that most journalists will publish reports based on its press briefings without troubling themselves with any legal analysis. Here’s my previous analysis of the false arguments and woo from the Christian Legal Centre.
Contradictions by Christian Summers
Christian Summers remains a member of the Green Party. Since her infamous vote on 19th July, she hasn’t attended a single party meeting or participated in any of the local party’s online discussions. Prominent party members, who genuinely befriended her before she went so badly off message, report privately that she has stopped contacting them. She has claimed that the local party has been overtaken by extremists. Presumably, she will now claim that the national party has been overtaken by extremists too.
Christina Summers’ political message is confusing. According to her, all the other Green councillors on Brighton & Hove City Council are out of step and only she is a true Green! She makes serious criminal allegations about Green Party members, which would apparently be easy to prove in court, but makes no complaint to the police. She insists to the press that she is desperate to remain in the Green Party but has stopped participating in any of the activities organised by the party. She employs a legal and media crew to represent her but she must take responsibility for the press releases it issues on her behalf.
Emergency of New Political Strategy By ‘Christian Right’
The question is whether the resulting confusion is deliberate? Although very few Green Party members are now left in any doubt as to the belligerent stance Ms Summers has adopted, the wider public have been repeatedly misinformed about her case by journalists who will just publish any old cods wallop, rather than check the facts or the law. The Christian Legal Centre, as explained at a link above, has plenty of form for legal woo and lost legal arguments. Why does it carry on? Why doesn’t it tighten up its act.
The reason may lie with the fact that the ‘Christian Right’ has lost its ability to influence politics in the UK. Over the last few decades, everything it has stood against has risen up and defeated it. We’ve seen the legalisation of abortion and homosexuality. Feminism has taken political life to places which would never have happened under the Bible bashers. We’ve even begun to question how the churches invest their vast wealth. We’ve seen other faiths accepted into the mainstream of our culture and atheists too. They’ve brought all manner of fresh thinking with them.
As a society, we’re much less ready to condemn than we were before. The Christian Right depended on that: condemnation was its bread and wine. It traded on fear and loathing. That’s why the Christian Legal Centre supported Olive Jones, the supply teacher whose local education authority stopped employing her because she repeatedly harassed a teenage girl suffering from leukaemia with the Word of God. That is but one example.
Having lost the political arguments and finding that the normal methods of campaigning no longer hold sway, the Christian Right have retreated into the world of militant action. Thus the picket lines outside abortion clinics, which are clear attempts at intimidation at the women seeking medical treatment inside the clinic. Knowing that two-thirds of Britons routinely support a woman’s right to choose an abortion, they pretend these are ‘prayer’ sessions. Since when did the power of prayer require nasty pictures of aborted foetuses and picket lines against vulnerable women?
The Christian Legal Centre is part of this movement into semi-direct action. Instead of dealing in facts, in discussion and in debate, it launches one spurious legal case after another, knowing that it will lose them but safe in the knowledge that the established media will publish unquestioning articles based on its misleading press briefings. They can be congratulated for realising that they are not the only ones to give up on the facts of a case. They do not seek to win the legal arguments. They seek to win the political arguments by creating a climate of confusion, in which ill-informed Christians are made to feel under constant attack. The strategy is predicated on the idea that a lot of people will not bother to make their own enquiries but instead will grow fearful of from the steady drip of misinformation about their beloved faith being under attack. Over time, these strategists expect to ensure that these fears become political issues.
Crucial to all of this is the fact of our demographics. Our population is aging. The majority of the population is over 55 years of age. The Christian Right reckons on a huge chunk of that age group identifying Christianity as part of their core beliefs. If they can be persuaded that they are under constant attack, they may also be persuaded to contact MPs about the cases promoted by groups like the Christian Legal Centre. Our politicians, who are generally fearful of the electorate, rather than passionate about their own political beliefs, can be expected to react favourably to such correspondence.
What next for Christina Summers?
It looks like Ms Summers will continue to draw her salary as a councillor in Brighton. For some time, she stopped attending council meetings and it looked as if she might resign her seat and cause a by-election. However, she would certainly lose that by-election because her ward contains Sussex University, which has exactly the wrong demographic compared to the one relied on by the strategy of the Christian Right. She will lose her seat in the next local elections because no party will select her and she stands no chance as an independent, with her track record, in that particular ward.
It also looks like Ms Summers will continue to make as much trouble for the Green Party as she possibly can. Her media and legal crew will continue to produce briefings to the press and try to keep the story alive. They may even launch futile legal proceedings to further that aim.
If she continues to make trouble for the Green Party by slagging it off in the media, it seems likely that she will forfeit her membership altogether at some point. The Greens hardly ever expel anyone though, so she’ll have to push quite hard to achieve this. However, she has ruined personal alliances she previously enjoyed and angered many party insiders greatly, so it seems likely that at some point she will be expelled.
There’s been a lot of fuss recently in Brighton & Hove’s political life. A Green Party councillor went rogue by voting against her party’s firm support of same sex marriages. Christina Summers is on the brink of being expelled from the Green Group on the council benches because she had previously promised the party, verbally and in writing, that she would support that policy. Immediately that a disciplinary process commenced against her, she stopped attending party meetings, ceased communications with party colleagues and even withdrew from her official duties as a councillor.
Instead of engaging in a political argument about her course of action, she has engaged lawyers to represent her. The so-called Christian Legal Centre has a very poor track record when it comes to winning cases. Its agenda is to promote the sort of evangelical agenda preferred by the right-wing of the American Republican Party. It prefers aggressive reportage rather than mediated solutions to the conflicts it becomes involved in. The website of its media crew, Christian Concern, claimed that Christina Summers is considering taking the Green Party to the High Court for judicial review despite that remedy being unavailable in disputes with private organisations such as political parties.
Now Summers is claiming that she could not talk to her colleagues because there is “a time to be silent“. That’s not a phrase we normally associate with politicians, unless they are subject to a criminal investigation, which isn’t the case here.
Two days ago she gave an interview to the local rag. Unknown for its accuracy, we can’t be sure if the quotes it printed are a true reflection of what she told their reporter. The Brighton Argus said, “She said she had received intimidating emails from Green Party members before and after the council meeting…“
There can be no justification for sending an intimidating email. Perhaps this is a good time to remind ourselves what ‘intimidating’ actually means. Here’s how the Oxford English Dictionary defines it:
INTIMIDATE – verb: frighten or overawe (someone), especially in order to make them do what one wants
Lest that story is amended or deleted altogether, I have taken a copy of it and posted a partially obscured version at the bottom of this post. Be assured, this is the first and last time I shall tarnish this blog with copies of Argus articles! Regular readers will know that I normally refuse to link to or quote from the Argus. It cannot be regarded as the paper of record that it once was ~ even though this article has been copied from a web page, which can be amended at any time, it contains a spelling mistake. The Argus has form for repeated mistakes of fact and often takes corrections from its readers via their comments threads (Sometimes deleting the correcting comments afterwards!). That said, I’m going to presume that its reportage in this case is accurate or, at the least, is approved by Summers’ lawyers.
The “council meeting” must mean the one in which she cast her vote against the party line. Very few people in the party knew of her intention to vote in that way prior to the council meeting itself. She had given all of us every expectation that she would vote in accordance with our party’s policy. A few hours before the council meeting, she informed the other Green Party councillors that she would be voting against them, via Jason Kitcat. Therefore, the question arises whether she has alleged that a councillor sent her an intimidating email before the vote took place? Who else would know that she intended to break her promises to the party? Is she actually alleging that one of her erstwhile councillor colleagues sent her an intimidating email either during the Green Councillors Group meeting on the afternoon of 19th July 2012 or immediately after it in the short gap between it and the full council meeting when she cast her vote?
These are important questions. Without sight of the emails she alleges she has received, it is impossible to determine the truth of them. Equally important is the question of who sent her an intimidating email after that fateful council meeting? The logic of the way in which the Argus has reported her words (although it hasn’t quoted any of her directly on this point) is very clear. The use of the plural is striking. It can only be read to mean that there were at least two emails and they were sent to Summers by at least two different Green Party members. At the very most conservative interpretation possible, one party member sent her an intimidating email before the meeting and a different one sent her another intimidating email after the meeting.
This isn’t just a serious allegation. It looks like a criminal allegation.
Recently there’s been a very high profile case fought over an electronically sent message which the Crown Prosecution Service claimed was menacing: the famous #twitterjoketrial. The facts of that case were markedly different from the allegations here. The defendant in that case, Paul Chambers, tweeted a joke about his annoyance at an airport being closed due to bad weather. Everyone accepts that he didn’t mean to menace anyone with his joke. Chambers won his appeal, thanks to the diligent assistance of his solicitor David Allen Green and his barrister, John Cooper QC.
Summers’ allegations can be distinguished from the Crown’s case against Chambers because emails are generally sent to specific people; they are aimed at someone. True, the Brighton & Hove Green Party maintains an internal discussion email list which allows registered members to send an email to a central address for dissemination to everyone similarly registered. However, anyone sending an email to that list must realise that it will be forwarded to everyone else on that list. I am a registered member of that list myself. Although there has been much discussion on the matter of Summers’ behaviour in general, there has been nothing which can be described as intimidating towards her. It seems more than reasonable to assume then that she is referring to emails sent specifically to her. Therefore, she is referring to emails which no-one except her and the alleged senders have seen. It doesn’t look like the Argus has seen them; otherwise you would expect its published article to say something like ‘The Argus has seen the emails concerned,’ or words to that effect.
Evidently, Summers is claiming that she knows the identity of the senders of the emails. Otherwise, she could not sensibly say that they were sent by Green Party members.
That begs the most serious question of all: why has complained to the press about her allegations, instead of the police? It is reasonable to assume that if she had complained to the police, she would have given the Argus the opportunity to report that as well.
She cannot pretend to be innocent of the law in this respect because she has been represented for some time now by a legal team which aggressively defends the interests of Christians. Clearly she is a Christian and it cannot be in her interests to receive intimidating emails. The Christian Legal Centre must be aware of the relevant law. For non-lawyers, a very brief summary may of some use.
Communications Act 2003
s. 127 of the Communications Act 2003 is the clause under which Chambers was prosecuted. It outlaws the sending (or the causing to be sent) “by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character.” In my opinion, an ‘intimidating email’ would be covered the last two words: “menacing character“. If someone is convicted of this offence, the maximum sentence is six months’ imprisonment.
Protection From Harassment Act 1997
The Protection From Harassment Act 1997 is used to prosecute people who send more than one message of an intimidating nature. As I have explained above, it isn’t absolutely clear whether Summers is alleging any one person sent more than one intimidating email to her. If they have and are convicted under this Act, the maximum sentence is six months’ imprisonment.
There are also other possible legal avenues by which this sort of behaviour could be remedied by law. I’m not going to spell them out for the benefit of the Christian Legal Centre. Let them do their own work!
Since casting her troublesome vote, Summers has changed the manner of her political engagements. Instead of carrying out her normal duties and appearing at party events, she has given numerous interviews to the media. She has used these to attack the Green Party. She has doggedly pursued an agenda which publicises her conflict with her party, instead of promoting the Green policies she says claims to care so deeply about.
It is tempting to call her bluff on this most recent allegation by her. Not only the victims of crime can report crimes. A quick ‘phone call to Sussex Police to ask them to look at the alleged emails ought to suffice. It needn’t be a complicated investigation. Summers can hand over the emails and inform the police of the identity of the senders. The Green Party is bound to cooperate completely. It should be a simple matter for the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether there are reasonable chances of a conviction. I’m very tempted to make that call myself because otherwise it looks like this allegation will just be left hanging in the air.
Why should the Green Party be left shadow boxing against allegations of this sort? It isn’t a fair way to conduct any argument. Our society employs a police force to investigate this sort of thing and pays for a court service to adjudicate upon it. Why hasn’t Summers pursued that path? Could it be that she is misusing criminal allegations to pursue her own political agenda? Is that what we want our elected politicians to do? Can there be anyone left who doubts the wisdom of the Green councillors for ejecting this woman? Is there anyone, fanatics aside, who still supports her? She gives Christians a bad name.
The Brighton Argus article which says Christina Summers received intimidating emails from Green Party members.
The Christian Legal Centre (CLC) and its sister lobby group Christian Concern (@CConcern on twitter) have been much in the headlines recently for promoting the cases of people who they say have been persecuted in the UK because of their faith. With very deep pockets behind them, they muster media campaigns and much futile litigation in the same way that most of the rest of us manage debts. They profess to campaign on issues which matter to Christians but instead pander to prejudice.
Although ostensibly two organisations, they work so closely together that they are effectively the same; they share the same website. Therefore, this article will refer to both of them as ‘the CLC’. Their press centre has created story after story in an attempt to reshape British politics according to the agenda of the Evangelical Right in America. The following list summarises each of publicised cases in turn, in reverse order. It makes for sorry reading.
1. Olive Jones
Olive Jones is a supply teacher in Somerset who harassed a teenage girl suffering from leukaemia with the Word of God. Since the girl was too ill to attend school the local authority sent Mrs Jones to teach her at home. Despite being repeatedly asked by the girl’s Mother to stop banging on about her Biblical Values, Ms Jones continued to ram her faith down her pupil’s throat. Don’t take my word for it, here’s a report from the Daily Telegraph (which could hardly be described as a left-wing atheist scandal rag). Eventually the girl’s Mother, who had told Mrs Jones that they were not a religious family, lodged a formal complaint. Since she was only a supply teacher, she was not offered any more work by North Somerset Tuition Service pending a proper investigation. Despite teachers not normally having a licence to speak their minds freely whilst on the job, a different Telegraph article quoted her as saying, “It is as if my freedom of speech is being restricted. I feel I am being persecuted for speaking about my faith in a country that is supposed to be Christian.” Despite the absurdity of her position and the obviousness of the offence which she had caused, the CLC stepped in and made a big media fuss. Their report on the matter avoids all the tricky facts mentioned above.
Claimed protecting a sick child from religious harassment equalled persecution of Christians. Click to enlarge.
2. Theresa Davies
Theresa Davies is a Pentecostal Christian who refused to preside over civil partnerships as part of her job as a marriage registrar and was subsequently given a different job. Again, the Telegraph reports on her case (See what I’m doing here?), quoting the Rev Sharon Ferguson, chief executive of Britain’s Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, who said: “It annoys me the number of people who are going straight to legal action with issues which can be resolved with employers. The fact remains there is legislation that all people must be treated equally.” For some reason known best to her, Ms Davies sent a letter to the House of Lords which complained about a, “militant political-sexual libertarian lobby“! The CLC became involved despite Ms Davies friend and colleague fighting a similar case which was dismissed by the EAT the previous year. Christian Concern fails to report that the case got nowhere.
Christian Concern boasts of another lost cause. Click to enlarge.
Oddly, one of the cases (Lilian Ladele) now being fought by the CLC before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is similar to this case but that it isn’t mentioned in this official list.
3. Andrew McClintock
This fellow resigned from his post as a magistrate because he could not stomach cases which required him to place children in the care of gays and lesbians. With the help of the CLC he took his case to an Employment Tribunal and… lost. He appealed to the EAT and lost again. Here is the full judgment from the EAT.
A magistrate who started a futile argument
Those sitting in judgment in our courts of law are not allowed to quit cases according to their political or religious taste. What on earth was the point of arguing this case? Once this sort of thing is allowed, we lose a judiciary which applies the law fairly and without prejudice. The point is that if they want to change the law, they have to make a political argument, not a legal one.
4. Shirley Chaplin
This lady was moved from being a nurse to having a desk job for refusing to stop wearing a crucifix at work. Guess who stepped in to help out? After a trial on the matter, an employment tribunal decided that she had not been discriminated against. The CLC is now fighting her case at the ECHR. We await the judgment.
Shirley Chaplin wanted to bear a cross
5. Duke Amachree
This chap is a member of the UK World Evangelism Church, in London. He lost his job as a homeless prevention officer after subjecting a seriously ill woman to a long religious rant, according to senior officials in Wandsworth Council quoted in the Telegraph. With the help of the CLC he launched a complaint to an employment tribunal on the grounds that he had been unfairly dismissed, subjected to religious discrimination and had his contract of employment breached. The case was lost.
Losing your job for ranting about God at work is not religious discrimination
6. Caroline Petrie
This lady is a community nurse who was suspended from her job because she offered to pray for an elderly patient, who then reported her. The suspension last two months, during which time the CLC got involved. When she was reinstated she told the Telegraph that she wasn’t sure if she could comply with the condition that personal beliefs and practices should be secondary to the needs and beliefs of the patient and the requirements of professional practice and that she would consult her lawyer before returning to work!
Nurse who wanted to offer religious services
7. Dr Sheila Matthews
This doctor was dismissed from a local authority’s adoption panel after requesting to refrain from voting when homosexual couples were being considered as potential adoptive parents. Then she quit her job as a paediatrician and, with the help of the usual suspects launched a case for religious discrimination which she lost.
Another lost case
8. Kwabena Peat
In November 2010 Mr Peat was dismissed after reading scripture at the beginning of an assembly which was dealing with Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender week. There is no legal case being fought over the matter, yet it appears in the list promoted by Christian Concern.
A case of padding out the list?
9. Gary McFarlane
This relationship counsellor was dismissed for gross misconduct by Relate after he refused to confirm that he would provide directive sex therapy to homosexual couples due to his religious beliefs. He complained to an employment tribunal which dismissed his case. The EAT also dismissed his case (here’s the full judgment). He applied for permission to appeal again, this time to the Court of Appeal and lost again (here’s the Court of Appeal’s judgment). Now his case is being heard at the ECHR.
He didn’t know whether he would do something or not until it was about to happen
10. Lesley Pilkington
This counsellor was caught, in a journalistic sting, telling a client that she would only provide her services within a Christian context. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy investigated and found her guilty of malpractice and struck her off. Despite losing her subsequent appeal, Christian Concern omit that information from their report and claim the case is ongoing!
Case lost but claimed as continuing
11. Eunice and Owen Johns
It’s unclear whether the Pentecostal Christian couple in this case received the assistance of the CLC or not. Christian Concern makes no reference to that happening and neither does the rest of the press. They wanted to be foster carers but were given to understand that they were unlikely to successed because they believe homosexuality is a sin. They sought a declaration from the High Court to agree with them. Instead, Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson ruled that laws protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation “should take precedence” over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds.
Another lost case
12. Colin Atkinson
A victory for the CLC! This chap was briefly threatened with disciplinary action at work for displaying a cross on the glove compartment of his employers’ van. There were no disciplinary proceedings. Although described as a won case, without there having been a formal argument of any sort, it never actually became a case at all.
Nothing happened here.
13. Dr Scott
Christian Concern say that this GP shared his faith with a patient and is currently under investigation by the General Medical Council (GMC) as a result. The full report from the Investigations Committee of the GMC gives a rather different picture, recording the allegation that he inappropriately talked about Christianity with a vulnerable patient (patient A) of another faith, told him that that he would not offer any medical help, tests or advice and made such remarks as,
“the devil haunts people who do not turn to Jesus and hand him their suffering.“
“his own religion could not offer him any protection and that no other religion in the world could offer Patient A what Jesus could offer him.”
“if Patient A did not turn towards Jesus and hand Jesus his suffering, then Patient A would suffer for the rest of his life.”
The committee then issued a formal warning against the doctor:
“Your actions do not meet with the standards required of a doctor. You are hereby formally warned as to your future conduct. Further serious or persistent failure to follow GMC guidance will put your registration at risk.”
Normally when a legal organisation or lawyers boast about their cases, it only records the cases it won. Clearly, this is not the approach taken here. Most of the cases in the list above have been lost. Many of them have not been reported properly. It seems that these two organisations take pride in fighting losing cases. Why?
In Brighton & Hove a rogue Green Party councillor has been subjected to an internal disciplinary process following her decision to break verbal & written promises she made to her party, by voting against a motion to lobby the government in favour of gay marriage. Immediately after the disciplinary process began, Christina Summers announced, “I’m accountable to God above any political party.” If that does not beg the question as to why she would make any earthly promises at all, it must surely cast doubt on her political integrity. She stood for election on a platform which said she would support same sex civil marriages and never suggested to anyone that she would do anything except promote that policy.
She enlisted the CLC to spread mud in her defence, regardless of the facts of the case. The disciplinary process concluded with the Panel of Inquiry conducting it concluding that she should be expelled from the group of Green councillors; the full reasons for that recommendation will be given tomorrow. In the meantime, Summers has not attended any Green Party meetings and has also been absent from some of her official duties on the council too. Instead she has chosen to speak through the Christian Legal Centre.
Surely elected politicians can speak for themselves, rather than rely on lawyers? Click to enlarge.
Yet here we have a lobby group, closely allied with a legal organisation, which is making the claim that she is considering it. Is she now considering it alone, without her lawyers’ assistance? It would only take them about a second to disabuse her of the notion that she could use that judicial remedy to attack the Green Party. All they would have to say is, “You can’t.”
The point of this remark in the press release can only be to intimidate the Green Party. It is a completely specious threat. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised, in the light of the tactics the CLC employs. The more serious concern is why the established media doesn’t scrutinise their reportage more carefully.
Tired of the endless bile from the Religious Right, I found myself wondering whether there was any humour to be found in the subject of what we are and aren’t allowed to do in the bedroom, according to the Moral Minority. Along the way I discovered the concept of Christian Porn. As with various other subjects, the Bible is silent on the subject of pornography, even though dirty pictures and stories have been around since the beginning of society. It seems that some Christians have tried to square the moral circle normally drawn around sinners by developing what they perceive as an acceptable form of erotica. This is popular because everyone’s doing the same thing but some of us need help to stop feeling guilty about it.
Allegia Prose promises to dish out the dirty stories, once you’ve registered and completed a questionnaire to confirm which of the following potentially offensive things you are not offended by: 4-Letter Words, Costumes, Erotic, Interracial, Masturbation, Role Playing/Fantasy, Spanking, Anal Play/Sex, Cross Dressing, Exhibitionism, Leather, Oral Sex, Rubber, Voyeurism, Breasts, Dominance/Submission, Foot Fetish, Legs, Panty Fetish, Sex Toy, Wedding Night/Virgin, Butt, Educational, Hand Job, Massage, Penises and Shoe Fetishes. There is no option to tick all the boxes at once. There are also no stories either, so the whole thing seems to be an exercise in data mining.
Christian Erotica employs a definition of the word which I was previously unfamiliar with. I couldn’t find anything even hinting at titillation on the whole site and, believe me, I looked hard. There were one or two references to sex though. There were also one or two references to Christ and Satan. It was difficult to know what to make of the whole exercise. I found myself drifting off and thinking about the finer points of the Cambridge Springs Attack instead.
Christian Nymphos aims to teach married women “what the Lord has done in our lives, including our marriage beds.” Packed with useful advice for the uptight like how to seduce your husband, the benefits of going commando and instructional techniques on sexual positions, this is more of an instruction manual for the naive that actual erotica.
Three Passions Lingerie will flog its wares to the more adventurous Christians without offending their sensitive eyes by showing it off on actual people. Instead the site’s owner has painstakingly photo shopped the people out of the photographic catalogue she procures from and inserted a greyed out body into their places. The resulting image are, erm, bonkers?
Will my bum look big in this?
Then I gave up. There’s only so much holier than thou crap I can wade through to get to the virtually non-existent juicy stuff. If there are Christians out there making porn, it seems generally agreed that it can either be concerned with married couples and not online for all to see. Apparently the more religious states in the USA consume the most porn anyway, so perhaps there just isn’t much of a market for the sin free stuff.
A Panel of Inquiry has decided to expel Councillor Christina Summers from the group of Green Party councillors on Brighton & Hove City Council. The City Council is now divided between 22 Greens, 18 Tories, 12 Labour and one independent. Following the resignation of a much respected Labour member, on health grounds, there will be a by-election shortly. That is expected to return a 13th Labour member. This expulsion is not expected to make any difference to the Greens’ political control of the Council.
This is the first time that the Green Party has excluded an elected representative from their number. Without the whipping system used by other parties, the process by which the decision was taken took a little longer. Summers was allowed legal representation before the disciplinary panel. She opposed the expulsion.
Christina Summers thinks she is only accountable to God.
Although the internal party Panel has voted to expel Summers, it has not yet given its reasons for doing so ~ they are expected on Thursday. The Panel was convened at the request of Summers’ former political colleagues after she (alone) voted, on 19th July, against the council supporting the extension of marriage rights to gay couples. The Greens were the first mainstream party to declare their support for same sex marriages. Summer’s vote not only contradicted her party’s policy, it also broke internal promises she made verbally and in writing in respect of this issue. She has confirmed to an evangelical radio station that she understood that she was voting against a core party policy.
Jason Kitcat shuts up about God.
The three member Panel made its decision on a majority vote. The minority vote was cast by the Council Leader, Jason Kitcat, who is a practising Catholic. Despite his religious beliefs, he does not introduce them to his public political life. He doesn’t attend the prayers held in Brighton & Hove before council meetings. He voted in favour of marriage rights being extended to gay and lesbian couples. When it became clear that he was in a minority on the Panel, he resigned from it. N.B. Jason Kitcat asked for this post to be altered – please see the first comment.
Summers has received the benefit of legal representation from the Christian Legal Centre, an evangelical lobby group thought to be funded by wealthy Americans. It is expected to drag the Green Party through the courts. It has form for litigating everything, regardless of the legal merits and generating news stories along the way.
Several councillors have complained that Summers was difficult to work with generally. Despite professing to support strong family values, she repeatedly made life difficult for at least one of her colleagues with children by disregarding their need to arrange childcare. She objected to certain types of cursing, for example the phrase “Goddamn” and other pseudo-religious utterances, making ordinary every day conversation difficult when she was around. Since casting her vote, she has absented herself not only from internal party meetings but also from some of her official duties on the council, without either an apology or an explanation.
It is likely that other Green Party members, including myself, will petition for Summers to be expelled from the party altogether. It makes no sense to prevent her from sitting on the party benches in the Council but to allow her to attend party meetings as an ordinary member. She has deliberately opposed us in the most conspicuous manner possible, deceived us as to her voting intentions and cannot be trusted. Instead of campaigning for Green Party policies, she has campaigned against them.
There has been much debate about the merits of disciplining Summers at all, mainly from people outside our party. Most of the media coverage is led by religious lobby groups who seek to portray every instance of a Christian suffering as an attack on Christianity. This argument collapses in Summers’ case because she has authored her own political downfall.
Update: 11th September 2012 ~ here’s food for thought for those visiting this post from Cranmer’s Blog. It labels the Green Party as fascist because it expels a councillor for lying? Don’t you think it a bit sad, if that’s the best argument raised in Summer’s defence? Do you really want to vote for a party which keeps liars in their midst?
On 19th July 2012 Green Party Councillor Christina Summers outraged her party colleagues and most of the local community by breaking her specific promises to support her party’s policy in favour of same sex marriage. Since then much has been written about her. This blog contains a number of posts on the subject in general. She’s garnered lots of media coverage and is being represented by a disreputable lobbying group called Christian Concern. In two days the first stage in the Green Party’s disciplinary process ~ a Panel of Inquiry ~ will be reporting its findings back to the Green councillors on Brighton & Hove City Council. While we wait for that decision, it may be useful to remind ourselves what she actually said in defence of her lone vote that day.
The vote in question was on an amended Labour motion. The original motion was proposed by Councillor Warren Morgan, which read as follows:
This Council notes the current national consultation on allowing same sex marriage between couples in England and Wales.
This Council also notes the considerable social and economic benefit to the city resulting from the Civil Partnership Act 2004, with Brighton and Hove being the most popular place in the UK for civil partnership ceremonies.
This Council believes that same sex couples should now have equal marriage rights under law, and calls upon the Government to:
Change the law to allow same-sex couples to get married.
Allow religious bodies to conduct same-sex marriages.
End the requirement that transgender people divorce before attaining Gender Recognition.
Enable mixed-sex couples to register a civil partnership.
The Green councillors proposed amendments to the motion. These were accepted by Councillor Morgan (he said he was “more than happy” with them). The amended motion, which was put to the vote, was as follows, with the amendments in bold:
This Council notes the current national consultation on allowing same sex marriage between couples in England and Wales, and the cross-party letter sent to the Government in response.
This Council also notes the considerable social and economic benefit to the city resulting from the Civil Partnership Act 2004, with Brighton and Hove being the most popular place in the UK for civil partnership ceremonies.
This Council believes that same sex couples should now have equal marriage rights under law, and calls upon the Government to:
Change the law to allow same-sex couples to get married.
Allow religious bodies to conduct same-sex marriages where they choose to do so.
End the requirement that transgender people divorce before attaining Gender Recognition.
Retain civil partnerships and enable mixed-sex couples to register a civil partnership.
Here’s Councillor Summers’ speech in full:
All speeches in full meetings of Brighton & Hove City Council are time limited, presumably to prevent filibustering. Let’s look at each of the points that Summers makes in turn.
She accepts that her party’s policy is very clear on this issue. Although time limited on this occasion, Summers has given plenty of media interviews (including to right-wing ‘Christian’ radio stations) where she accepts that this policy is a core issue for the Green Party. In fact, it was a core issue before she joined the party.
When she stood as a candidate she was specifically asked how, in the event of a conflict between her conscience and party policy, she would vote? She declared that she would vote with the party’s policy. Therefore, this vote isn’t just against party policy, it’s hypocritical too. She would not have been selected as a candidate, had she said that she would make this speech and vote against Green Party policy.
When the Brighton & Hove Green Party selected its candidates for the 2011 local elections, every one of them was required to sign a pledge promising to advance equality on every front in keeping with the party’s policy. This pledge was introduced because of specific concerns about Summers’ hardcore religious beliefs. She signed that contract with the party.
The last conclusion seems the most likely. In those circumstances, you would think that she would communicate her change of intention to her immediate colleagues at the earliest opportunity, wouldn’t you? If she did, then she must have changed her mind during the meeting of Green councillors immediately before this council meeting because that was the first time she informed them of her intentions.
Her vote will “jar” with her colleagues
That’s putting it mildly. She voted like this in the full knowledge that she had broken faith with her party. Normally, in political circumstances such as these, the renegade retains some integrity by resigning from their party. However, Summers has remained in the party. She is well aware that there will soon be a petition to expel her. Rather than accept that she has misled both her party and the voters, she prefers to fight on. Why? Is it because that way she will maximise media coverage for her supposedly Christian agenda?
She has no problem with same sex civil partnerships
Although she descibed marriage as a “label“, in effect her argument is that marriage is somehow a concept which is owned by Christians. This is absolute nonsense. There were marriages long before Christianity was even a twinkle in a shepherd’s eye or whatever the biblical story is. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans celebrated marriages. It seems very likely that ancient Britons got married long before St Augustine rocked up in Kent. Incidentally, whilst Kent was the first placed to be Christianised in England, Sussex was the last. However, I digress.
Christian churches have taken various views of marriage ceremonies during their history. At one time, they frowned on such celebrations and refused to host them at all. Other religions take different views of what is permissible. Notably, muslims believe that up to five people can enter marriages. Is Summers’ arguing that should be somehow banned? No, she is not.
Civil marriages in this country are and always have been a product of civil law in England and Wales. The implied argument here is misconceived.
The government’s undemocratic approach
I didn’t read the manifestos from the Liberal Traitors or the thieving Tory bastards but I’m happy to believe her when she says that allowing same sex marriages wasn’t included. Is she now arguing that a government can only change the law to comply with their manifesto commitments? This argument cannot stand up ~ it has no legs. Every government has made laws which it didn’t campaign for prior to an election. However, they do have to get them through the House of Commons and the Lords, which has Church of England bishops in it as of right. I’ve never heard her complain that they shouldn’t be in there. The idea that governments should not introduce laws which they didn’t mention in their manifestos would stymy our civil society to the point of seizure. Is that really what she wants?
She says that the consultation process was flawed on the basis that it didn’t ask what people wanted. Perhaps she’s not very politically experienced? Perhaps she never troubled herself to read the consultation document? The local council and everyone else was free to say whatever they wanted in the consultation. In fact the very first question in the consultation document asked,
“Do you agree or disagree with enabling all couples, regardless of their gender to have a civil marriage ceremony?”
The second question gave an opportunity to explain the reasons for the answer to the first question:
“Please explain the reasons for your answer. Please respond within 1,225 characters (approx. 200 words).”
The views of people already married
This is a completely specious point. Married people were just as entitled to join with the government’s consultation process as anyone else was. Not only is she politically naive, she’s also misrepresented the facts. The government’s own web page explaining the (now finished) consultation process states that the intended audience for the consultation is:
members of the public – particularly those currently in a marriage or civil partnership or those wishing to legally register their relationship in future
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organisations
local authorities, including registrars who are responsible for conducting civil marriage ceremonies
organisations with an interest in families and relationships
comments from all other interested parties are also welcome
I’ve added the emphasis to the first line. However, there it is plain for all to see: the government specifically asked married people to join in with the consultation.
Besides, allowing a change in who can get married doesn’t affect people who are already married. I’m married. If some of my gay friends want to get married, how on earth does that affect me?
This point is absolute nonsense. It looks like Summers has read it elsewhere (Perhaps in the literature of the Christian Legal Centre, who now represent her?). Whatever she has heard elsewhere, her repetition of it here makes so little sense that she weakens her argument considerably. The trick to making an argument, is to stick to your strong points and let the rest go. By including this, Summers looks like she is grasping at any straw floating past. Let’s remind ourselves what she actually said on this point:
“… and the legal implications are a nightmare, we are trying to unravel 800 years of legislation which would have to be rewritten. There are over 3,000 times in the law that marriage is mentioned and associated words like wife, mother, father that would have to be taken out”
Let’s break this down a little. Firstly, the claim that there is 800 years of relevant legislation is just not true. It is true that the concept of legislation begins with the Magna Carta in 1215. However, there hasn’t been legislation on marriage every year since then and almost all of the laws passed in the intervening centuries have either been repealed or otherwise amended. Whilst students of law do have to learn some of the old stuff (What a pleasure that was!), very little of it is still in force. A book called “Is It In Force?” is a useful tool to working this stuff out. It’s a bit of a dry read, mind.
Secondly, there is the issue of the number of times marriage is mentioned in law. Personally, I haven’t counted the number of times that the word “marriage” is mentioned in our law. Perhaps it is over 3,000 times. It doesn’t really matter if it is 3,000 times, 300, 30 or 3 million times. There’s been plenty of examples in the past when we’ve changed our law so that something has to be read differently. Our civil service employs people called Treasure Counsel. They get paid a pretty good salary to work this stuff out. One method is simply to include clauses in the proposed new law which just say something along the lines of “wherever an Act of Parliament makes a reference to ‘husband and wife’, that phrase shall be read to also include ‘husband and husband’ and/or ‘wife’ and ‘wife’…” or similar such words. They’re our laws. We can make and change them according to how we see fit. We use techniques like the one outlined above to alter other phrases which have been used throughout the centuries. There’s no reason why the word “marriage” attracts any special linguistic difficulties. However, mostly the amendments would only have to be made to the Marriage Act 1949.
Finally, on the legal point, she claims that words like “wife“, “mother” and “father” would “have to be taken out.” Perhaps she isn’t just politically naive? Why should we remove any of these words from our law? Besides, ‘mother’ and ‘father’ are descriptions of biological relationships and nothing to do with marriage at all. There always have been and always will be children born out of wedlock. Listening to her spout this crap is embarrassing. Does she want us to treat children born out of wedlock differently? Probably not. More than likely, she literally doesn’t know what she is talking about.
The question of who can get married has got nothing to do with schools whatsoever. Without any further explanation from her, it is very difficult to see any cogency in this point. Perhaps she is referring to religious schools? She didn’t say so…
She claims that churches will not be protected, although she doesn’t say what they need to be protected from? The government’s consultation paper was very clear on this point. The first sentence under the section ‘Proposals’ said they meant that
“in law, marriages conducted by the Church of England, Quakers, Jews and all other religious organisations (who have registered their religious premises to host marriages) would only be legally recognised if they are between a man and a woman.”
Which part of this sentence did Summers not understand? By this point, you’ve got to ask yourself (again) whether she has actually read the consultation document at all? Thus far, every point that she has made with respect to it has been untrue.
Hitting at the very heart of God
As with many public speakers, Summers seems to think that it is best to make the strongest argument last. However, having mismanaged her time that left her little room to explain her point. Perhaps she felt it didn’t need further explanation. Let’s remind ourselves of what she said:
“when you touch marriage, you’re touching family and you’re hitting at the very heart of God and I have an enormous problem with that, so woe betide Brighton and woe betide the UK if it becomes law.”
Firstly, she equates marriage with family as if the two concepts are synonymous. Plainly, that is a matter of opinion. There are many people who agree with her world view that parents should be married. There are many others who do not. Incidentally, I spoke to a psychiatrist about whether there was research on the effects of children as to whether the parents lived together or not. She told me that all the research shows that the children will do well if both parents consistently act in the children’s best interests, regardless of the nature of their relationship. However, Summers opinion is that marriage and family are the same thing.
Perhaps that is fair enough but how does she get from there to the bit about God? We’ve had civil marriages in the UK for well over half a century. I’ve entered into one myself. Both my wife and I are atheists. Is Summers’ suggesting that our marriage is somehow not valid? If she is, she wouldn’t dare say that out loud. She knows that is not an acceptable thing to say in public.
Let’s remind ourselves what the Bible says about marriage. Genesis 2:22-24 claims that the first woman was made out of the first man. Proverbs 5:18-19 advises men to enjoy their wife’s breasts. Proverbs 12:4 says that a wife’s character reflects on her husband. Proverbs 18:22 basically says a man is lucky to get a wife. Proverbs 19:14 says that God gives a man a good wife in much the same way that he might inherit wealth from his parents. Proverbs 20:6-7 advises men to be faithful to their wives. Proverbs 30:18-19 basically says that sex between a man and a virgin is too difficult to understand. Proverbs 31:10 says that virtuous wives are rare. Matthew 19:4-6 says that religious marriages cannot end in divorce. Corinthians 7:1-16 says a couple of things: it insists that sex must only be in marriage and that married couples must have sex unless they have agreed to pray instead but they must have sex again afterwards. It also says that atheists are allowed to get divorced! Ephesians 5:22-23 says the wives must submit to their husbands, as does Colossians 3:18-19. Hebrews 13:4-7 speaks out against adultery (and the love of money). Finally, Mark 10:6-9, says religious people cannot divorce.
That’s it. All the references a religious website found on a search for “marriage”. What conclusions can we draw from this? There are passages from both the Old and the New Testament. There’s quite a lot of agreement throughout all the passages. The Bible is sexist. Beyond that though, there is the (for me) startling conclusion that different rules apply to those who are believers compared to those who are not. Isn’t that much the same as what the government is describing? The government is describing changing the law for civil, not religious marriages. Therefore, what is Summers’ problem?
Her speech ended with an old fashioned threat. Probably she isn’t used to winning arguments and hasn’t studied rhetoric either. All the same, she ought to realise that threatening people is not persuasive approach. If this proposal becomes law, she wishes ill on the people of Brighton. Hove gets included too because she wishes ill on everyone in the UK too!
This person shouldn’t be in the Green Party. It’s doubtful whether she can find a place in any political party now, although doubtless a number of churches will accept her.