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Fri Feb 1, 2013, 05:47 PM


Britain's religious right is on the rise

Recent opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage suggests a Christian, socially conservative bloc is a very real presence

Ben Quinn
guardian.co.uk, Friday 1 February 2013 06.42 EST

A year ago, an episode reminiscent of America's polarised "culture wars" unfolded in a leafy central London square as hundreds of pro-choice and anti-abortion protesters confronted one another outside an abortion clinic.

Months before, a parliamentary bid to stop abortion providers from giving NHS-funded counselling to women failed, but resulted in the government establishing an all-party group to consider ways of incorporating the "spirit" of the proposals into law. To pro-choice activists and others, Britain's abortion laws were facing their greatest challenge for decades one perceived to be emanating to a large extent from a socially conservative, religiously motivated movement.

But is there a "religious right" emerging in Britain? It is an interesting question, and one which the public theology thinktank Theos has attempted to answer in a report published today.

Its verdict? The case for the existence of a religious right appears superficially strong amid evidence of greater co-ordination among Christian groups with a strong socially conservative commitment on issues including sexuality, marriage and religious freedom.



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Response to rug (Original post)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 05:52 PM

1. Doesn't much matter what they want to be called, they are looking a lot like

the US religious right when it comes to right to choose.

Hopefully there will be significant push back. The fight for abortion rights is still fresh in the minds of many, I would think.

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Response to rug (Original post)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 05:59 PM

2. How much are they really getting from the US "Christian" right?

Andrea Williams, who heads Christian Concern and its sister organisation, the Christian Legal Central, meanwhile told Theos that her organisation receives "small amounts of money" from a US religious right group, the Alliance Defence Fund, "1,000 here and 1,000 there".

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Response to rug (Original post)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 07:47 PM

3. I've been complaining about this for quite a while

It is not as big an issue as in the USA - for one thing, there are far fewer regular churchgoers here, and for another, the Church of England is as a whole relatively liberal, though there are always exceptions.

But the political 'pro-life', anti-gay movement are a pain nevertheless. E.g Christian Concern, formally known as Christian Concern for Our Nation, and its loony leader Andrea Minichiello Williams, who thinks that the Earth is 4000 years old and that Christians are persecuted in Britain. The organization helped to spearhead a 'Westminster Declaration' modelled on the Manhattan Declaration. They also started an annual 'Wilberforce Academy' programme, for, according to their blurb, 'students and young professionals with a passion to serve Jesus Christ in a variety of vocations including law, politics, education, media, arts and business. Our aim is that delegates will be prepared for servant-hearted, Christ-centred leadership in public life, having been equipped with a robust biblical framework that guides their thinking, prayers and activity in addressing the issues facing our society.' These 'issues' seem to be all about gays and abortion, not war or poverty. And yes, the Alliance Defence Fund helps to fund these meetings and has sent speakers. And they had their first three meetings at Exeter College, Oxford - not as far away from me as I'd like; until the third time the students got wise to their existence and their homophobia, and made a fuss; so the college won't be hosting it any more. But the meetings will continue.

Another local loonytunes is the Rev. Lynda Rose, who is the Oxford representative of the anti-abortion Life charity. While I disagree with the pro-life movement in general, in the past (and perhaps other locations) this particular charity had generally stuck to specific anti-abortion campaigning and more constructively to supporting women with problem pregnancies, and had mostly stayed out of politics. However, in 2010, this individual carried out a vile smear campaign against our then MP, calling him 'Dr Death', etc. and contributing to his narrow defeat. This was what brought home to me the dangers of the local religious right. More recently she has been heavily involved in campaigns against gay priests/ bishops, and gay marriage, and in support of 'reparative therapy'.

Here she is, crossing swords with the (Tory) Mayor of London with regard to 'freedom of speech' for homophobes:



Also, the religious right-wingers, mostly of the Catholic variety, seem to have colonized the blogs in the Torygraph: Cristina Odone, Damian Thompson, Peter Mullen (an Anglican, and VERY extreme), etc.

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Response to LeftishBrit (Reply #3)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 08:12 PM

4. Surely Cristina Odone has no credibility, even in the Telegraph?


I've always thought that the ruling classes in general have a deep suspicion of "the Papists", finding all that ritual and incense and bleeding heart stuff rather embarrassing and faintly "foreign".

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Response to mr blur (Reply #4)

Fri Feb 1, 2013, 08:34 PM

5. I think this was true as long as 'the Irish question' was one of Britain's key political issues

Among the ruling class and their supporters, there was a definite attitude of Catholics=Irish=Rebels against the Crown!

There are many in Northern Ireland, and some outside it, who still have this attitude. But now the right-wing hostility tends to be more directed against Muslims on the one hand, and secularists on the other. And right-wing Catholics are becoming increasingly prominent, notably Iain Duncan-Smith; and the owners, and several columnists (not only Odone), of the Torygraph.

Of course, this should not be overstated - Catholics are still more likely to vote Labour than Conservative, and religious right-wingers are more likely to be Evangelicals than Catholics; but I think there is an increasing level of collaboration between right-wing Catholics and Protestants.

No, we are not going to end up with anything like the situation in parts of America. But there are definitely people trying it on.

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