This is a cross-post from Futile Democracy
Stephen Green, the national director of Christian lobby group ‘Christian Voice‘ is a controversial figure. He has in the past supported the death penalty for homosexuality, lending his voice to the hideous Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill. His ex-wife accused him of domestic abuse. His group believes marital rape is simply not a thing, and they equate abortion to the holocaust. Green has attempted in the past to pursue private prosecution against General of the BBC Mark Thompson for blasphemy, and in 2005 they threatened to picket cancer charity, Maggie’s Centres if the Centres accepted a donation from ‘Jerry Springer The Opera’. Maggie’s Centres – who offer palliative care to cancer sufferers thus felt they had to decline a £3,000 donation.
In 2010, Christian Voice threw its support behind the ‘Westminster Declaration of Faith‘ initially drafted by the Christian Medical Fellowship and signed by a number of people, including a number of MPs and candidates. Along with the absurd fundamentalist positions of Christian Voice, the CMF on their website wrongly describe marriage as:
“Stable marriages and families headed by a mother and a father are the bedrock of society and the state has a duty to protect the uniqueness of these key institutions. There is considerable evidence (2) to show that marriage leads to better family relationships, less economic dependence, better physical health and longevity, improved mental health and emotional well-being, and reduced crime and domestic violence. Same-sex marriage, in comparison with marriage, is an unproven and experimental social model.”
– Wrong, because almost all studies show children of same-sex parents are not in any way held back by the sexuality of their parents. But let’s not allow facts to get in the way of a good supremacist narrative.
Back to Christian Voice. They posted the entire declaration on their website. One of the points of The Declaration states:
“We pledge to support marriage, the lifelong covenantal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife. We believe it is divinely ordained, the only context for sexual intercourse, and the most important unit for sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all. We call on government to honour, promote and protect marriage and we refuse to submit to any edict forcing us to equate any other form of sexual partnership with marriage. We commit ourselves to continue affirming what we believe as Christians about sexual morality, marriage, and the family.”
– The distinctly homophobic organisers of The Declaration apparently took it to Parliamentary candidates with a watered-down, slightly more secular and palatable version. Christian Voice attached it to the entire declaration. It states:
“The Westminster 2010 organisers say: ‘We did not ask candidates to sign the Westminster declaration itself, but only to make the pledge to “…respect, uphold and protect the right of Christians to hold and express Christian beliefs and act according to Christian conscience”. ‘
Their website lists those candidates who made that pledge. Christian Voice has extracted the successful candidates who signed, and also those who refused. It is shocking that so few MP’s – just 57 – could bring themselves to promise to maintain Christian liberties, and that 16 – real enemies of the Gospel – went out of their way to refuse to sign.”
– One of those 57 MPs – according to Christian Voice (and Christian Today) – was Labour leadership candidate Liz Kendall. But here’s the thing…. It turns out since researching this a little deeper, Kendall didn’t sign the declaration at all. That’s not to say that a number of MPs didn’t sign it, because they did, and to be clear; whilst the MPs were not given the full declaration, only a slightly more secular, palatable version, I would still argue that it represents a massive lapse in judgement for Parliamentary candidates to sign any old declaration without first checking who it is they’re signing for. For example, if we didn’t know who the National Front are, it would be hugely contentious for MPs to sign a declaration – regardless of how watered-down that declaration was – that is written, and promoted by racial supremacists, and so equally it must be considered contentious to throw any words of support behind religious supremacists. At the most it represents a worrying set of beliefs for a candidate, and the very least it represents a huge lapse in judgement.
Yesterday I linked to the Christian Voice page that features her name, and asked Liz Kendall’s social media team to clarify her position (and here’s a mistake that I should admit; I thought she had signed it, due entirely to Christian Voice’s website). I got this response:
– Confused, I figured the only two options were that Kendall did sign the watered down version, and just didn’t know who it was for, or that Christian Voice were lying. Though I don’t trust much a politician will say, I trust Christian Voice even less, and so I checked.
Two points stuck out; firstly Liz Kendall has consistently voted for LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage and challenged anti-abortion bills that used contentious phrases like “the unborn child“. Liz Kendall is no Christian fundamentalist, and has voted for measures that remove religious privileges from state matters. It would be a little bizarre if she suddenly rushed to sign a document created by religious supremacists. And secondly, and most importantly…. it seems her name doesn’t actually appear on the list at all, and some of us – including me – were duped by Christian Voice.
I worked my way through 28 pages of names on the list from the official website of ‘The Westminster Declaration‘ and there was just one mention of Liz. But that’d be ‘Lizzie Kendal‘, not Liz Kendall:
– And so it would seem that Christian Voice saw that entirely different name, decided it was Liz Kendall MP, and put her on a list featuring 56 other names they may have picked out in much the same dishonest fashion. Interestingly, they also have Lib Dem leader Tim Farron’s name on their list, and yet when I search the official website, his name doesn’t appear at all, not even with a slightly different spelling.
Whilst she may not be my preferred candidate for Labour leader, Liz Kendall has rightly voted to remove barriers to same-sex rights, and opposing pro-life rhetoric, thus breaking down walls to liberty imposed by the very religious fundamentalists who now use her name to further their cause. Most importantly; she is not on their list of signatories. And when it comes to Christian Voice; it is perhaps best that we question absolutely everything that awful, supremacist group, and their hideous leader says at all times.