It is often said these days that we live in a ‘post-truth’ world, but perhaps, more frighteningly, the reality is that we live in a world where the truth is increasingly being either distorted or actively suppressed. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the unremitting campaign to compel acceptance of recently rebranded ‘British values’, because somewhere along the line ‘tolerance’ of those who hold different values has been dumped. Indeed, we are now dangerously close to active, state sanctioned oppression of anyone who dares express dissent.
To put it bluntly, no one is allowed to express reservations regarding the new morality. Rather, under the cloak of equality and diversity, anything that puts forward a counter narrative – whether based on religion or medically and scientifically validated concern for health – is branded hate speak and bigotry, and increasingly criminalized. Such were the tactics of Communism and Nazi Germany, and indeed of any totalitarian state, when faced with opinions or actions that questioned the new regime.
Now, in the ideological battle raging in this land, it would seem that Voice for Justice UK has become a target.
Following a recent Freedom of Information request to Parliament, it has come to light that, ahead of a meeting in the House of Lords in November last year, the Conservative MP for Stourbridge, Margot James, sent a ‘secret’ complaint to Lord Fowler, the Speaker of the House of Lords, asking for myself, Lynda Rose, and the organization I represent, to be banned from Parliament on the grounds that she found my views offensive. She gave the opinion that she thought many of her constituents would also find my views offensive. In a separate email between Parliamentary officials, it was further said that in a phone call to the Lord Speaker’s office her assistant had said we were homophobic.
What had we done to provoke this? Well, first (and, it has to be said, rather unexpectedly) she accused me of providing therapy to those unhappy with their sexual orientation – untrue, as it happens, as I am not in any way, shape or form a therapist, though I have always defended the right of people unhappy with their sexual orientation to seek counselling, and see nothing wrong with that. Second, she said she thought I might, in the course of a talk I was scheduled to give, express unacceptable “views on same sex relationships”. Third, though unexpressed, it would appear she had taken exception to VfJUK’s recently published book examining the ideological reframing of education, What are they teaching the children?.
Now, let us be entirely clear here. I am an Anglican priest, and the views to which Ms James has apparently taken exception are simply an affirmation of Christian belief, as set down in the Bible, that all sexual relations outside marriage are prohibited, and that marriage is between one man and one woman for life. But for Ms James, the first openly lesbian woman to become a Conservative MP, Christian belief, where it conflicts with the new Weltanschauung, should apparently not be allowed. Worse, Ms James appears to think that Christians who believe the Bible should be silenced and excluded from society. Equally, Government produced data demonstrating adverse health and social outcomes as result of new polices should apparently be suppressed.
Is this really how democracy operates in Britain today? We would respectfully remind Ms James that The Church of England is still the established Church of this nation. Which means that the UK is officially … Christian. Of course there are different views, beliefs, and opinions within our myriad population, but that is all to the good, and is what democracy is all about. The right to hold and freely express different beliefs, always providing they do not incite violence or civil affray, must be both protected and maintained. For Ms James to seek to silence mainstream and traditional Christian belief by making covert allegations smacks of totalitarianism. It suggests, in fact, the wilful and deliberate oppression of any and all who may disagree with her.
In this case The Speaker of the House of Lords rightly refused to ban me, though nevertheless the meeting had to be moved. It remains of concern, however, that Ms James felt free to make accusations to which I had no right of reply – being entirely ignorant they had been made – and which, if upheld, would have resulted in VfJUK’s formal exclusion from Parliament. As it happened, VfJUK only became aware something of this nature had taken place because alerted to an unspecified, but highly serious, complaint. We were, however, given no details, and it was for this reason that we made the Freedom of Information request.
We were rightly horrified at what was revealed. At every level Margot James’ attempted intervention was wrong. First, as a Member of the Lower House, she should not have sought to interfere with the conduct of affairs in the House of Lords. Second, if she had concerns, the basic principles of natural justice should surely have required she make those concerns known first to the subject of her complaint, in order to discuss the matter. As it is, the attempt to have someone banned on the basis of undisclosed allegations, which by definition they cannot answer, smacks of kangaroo justice. Accusations of this nature are of course potentially defamatory, and although Ms James may be relying for protection on Parliamentary privilege conferred by her position, such behaviour, if unchecked, can only damage the health of our society.
In short, Margot James’ covert attack and attempt to have a member of the clergy banned because she herself appears to take issue with the Bible, demonstrates nothing so much as an unacceptable and worrying opposition to Christianity. No Member of Parliament should be allowed to abuse his or her position to attack individual citizens or their beliefs in this way.
The point must also be made that Members of Parliament are not elected to promote their own ideas, but to represent the views of their constituents. Ms James expressed the conviction that many of her constituents would share her opinion and join with her in calling for VfJUK’s exclusion. But what of those of her constituents who do not share her views? Are we to assume that Christians in Stourbridge form such a minority as to justify being completely ignored, or is Ms James, as MP, neither prepared nor willing to represent those whose views differ from her own?
Such a position is scandalous, but appears symptomatic of clear and growing anti-Christian hatred in this country. It has got to stop.
Margot James has abused her position by making unfounded and unjustified clandestine attacks on a member of the public, who was given no chance to respond. She needs to realize that she belongs not to a private members’ club that exists for the sole benefit of its associates, but to the Mother of Parliaments, charged with defending and protecting the best interests of all UK citizens.
If you share our concern, please write to your MP today, asking them to condemn such behaviour. Make the point that, as an elected representative, the job of an MP is to represent fairly and objectively the views and interests of his or her constituents, and that Ms James’ behaviour not only breeches that requirement, but is a fundamental attack on the core British values of freedom of belief, and of speech. Make the point that this is an attack on democracy itself and, as such, is to be deplored.
Please send a copy of your email to the Prime Minister, Mrs Theresa May (firstname.lastname@example.org); to John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons (email@example.com); and to the Lord Speaker, Lord Fowler (firstname.lastname@example.org).