Radical Manifestos

I had the fortune (misfortune?) to stumble upon a fundamentalist Christian site, via my friend Bruce’s blog, that offers a mindset into how fundamentalists view the world. The attitude towards women is not a surprise to me – I have encountered this belief before, and in the interests of fairness, not just from Christians, but from other faiths and indeed people in general. However, that’s not what I’ll be taking a look at in this post – at least, not fully.

Instead, I’m more interested in this post. I don’t know where Susan-Anne White or Francis White wrote it, but, on the basis that Susan-Anne is the one who commented repeatedly on Bruce’s blog, I’ll assume she wrote this ‘manifesto’. If it transpires that Francis wrote it, or it was a joint effort, I’ll update this post accordingly. I’ll be quoting their text in purple.

Below is their ‘2015 election manifesto’.

I pledge to…
Close Marie Stopes Abortion clinic
Oppose the extension of the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland
Remove State-sponsored amoral sex education from schools
Restore corporal punishment to schools
Uphold parental rights to discipline children, including the right to smack
Raise the age of consent for sexual intercourse to 18 and enforce the new law
Make it an offence for doctors to give contraceptives to underage children
Oppose the LGBT agenda, whilst showing compassion to those who struggle with gender confusion
Oppose the redefinition of marriage and uphold Biblical man/woman marriage
Ban gay pride parades and recriminalise homosexuality
Stop the State funding of LGBT organisations
Make adultery a punishable offence
Abolish the Equality Commission NI and the Human Rights Commission NI and give the money they receive to the NHS
Oppose feminism
Restore dignity to the role of the stay-at-home mother
Restore the concept of a family wage with the father as the bread-winner
Oppose the legalisation of dangerous drugs
Protect the NHS and increase funding by abolishing unnecessary and money-wasting bureaucrats and quangos
Withdraw from money-wasting and decadent Europe
Oppose the global warming fanatics and their pseudo-science
Imprison those found guilty of animal cruelty, including those involved in dog fights
Install CCTV in all abattoirs
Ban halal slaughter
Oppose the Islamisation of British culture – no more mosques and no more mosque extensions
Restore capital punishment for murder, including terrorist murders

First up, they oppose abortion. This is nothing new for the religious right, who often claim they value the sanctity of life. My experience has been that forced-birther is a more accurate term, and the lives of the would-be mothers tend to mean very little to them. Many (not all, but many) forced-birthers will not even make allowances for cases of rape/incest, even in cases where this has happened to under-age girls, because the lives of the women and girls are simply not valued.

However, that is slightly beside the point I wish to make. If Mrs White is truly against abortion, she should consider the fact that in countries where it is legal, it is also less common. Where it is illegal, abortion rates are usually higher and more dangerous. If she is truly opposed to abortion, why would she endorse a course of action that would not actually reduce abortion rates but instead prove more likely to get women killed?

Mrs White also wants to abolish what she judges to be ‘amoral’ sex education. It would be useful if she could define what amoral sex education is. Does she object to any form of sex education? Does she feel any mention of the subject should be removed? Personally, I am not sure ignorance would of benefit to anyone, for adolescents will go through adolescence anyway, and what’s better? For them to discover certain things on their own, without having any idea what they’re going through or feeling, or to have at least some form of warning/education on the subject?

Mrs White wants to restore corporal punishment. I cannot see how any of the methods I am aware of would serve any reasonable purpose. No doubt an argument in favour of corporal punishment would be that it would encourage discipline and good behaviour, but is there any evidence this is actually true? The threat of corporal punishment did not stop children from misbehaving back when it was enforced, and I’d like to think that as a society we have grown out of feeling the need to strike children in order to correct misbehaviour? Related to this, what difference does smacking make?

Next we have two peculiar ideas that almost certainly wouldn’t work in the real world – raising the legal age of consent for sex to 18, enforcing this law (how?!) and banning doctors from providing contraceptives to anyone who is underage. It’s almost as though Mrs White wants a teenage pregnancy problem. Teenagers are full of intense hormones and they will find a way to be together. Unless Mrs White proposes to lock every door, ban the sexes from mixing, and have police watch teens like hawks, there is no way to enforce her law. Unless she feels she can undermine basic biology, she is going to create massive problem with teenage pregnancy through such laws.

The LGBT community is the next target, and this serves as another demonstration that the religious right has no business interfering in the lives of others. You cannot simultaneously criminalise homosexuality and say you plan to show compassion to them. It would better to keep religions out of the lives of those who do not share them, a concept the religious right really struggles with.

‘Make adultery a punishable offence’. How? What form of punishment? A Biblical one? Does that not call for the death penalty?! That hardly seems to be a proportional response.

Mrs White wants to abolish equality and human rights commissions. Why? These institutions serve an important purpose.

She wants to oppose feminism. I suspect that, like many in the religious right, she lacks an understanding of feminism.

She feels the role of the stay-at-home mother lacks dignity. I’m not aware of that, I am only aware of a woman’s right to choose her own destiny, rather than having it dictated to her by a religious text. Likewise for the role of the man. I agree that people need a living wage, but I’d apply that to both men and women who are working.

Mrs White opposes legalising drugs. Whilst I can sort of understand where she is coming from, my own view is that in making something illegal, you are only going to create a criminal culture devoted to supplying it. Legalise them and you take the power away from crooks who use drug money to fund terrorism and organised crime. Not only that, you can ensure that the drugs supplied are ‘clean’, and establish centres where help can also be easily offered to those suffering addiction. We stigmatise drug users far too much, to the benefit of no one.

I’m not going to disagree with cutting out bureaucracy. I don’t agree with withdrawing from Europe. Brexit remains one of the biggest mistakes this country has ever made.

I am going to disagree about global warming. There is plenty of evidence that climate change is a real, dangerous phenomenon.

I don’t object to jail time for animal cruelty, though that would depend on how full prisons get.

Regarding CCTV in abattoirs, I don’t particularly object to that either, though I find it interesting that Mrs White pushes hard for a religious society… as long as it’s her vision of such a society. Halal practices won’t be allowed, alongside a general opposing of Islam. Methinks this is more about a battle of religious views than anything else, and it is an over-stated problem.

Finally, Mrs White wants to restore capital punishment. The problem with this is that there is no reversing the decision. Get it wrong, and an innocent life is taken. That is why I oppose the death penalty, and will continue to do so.

So there you have it. We’ll have to wait and see if we get a response, but for the moment, I’ve laid out my thoughts on this manifesto.

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