A Nazi Analogay

About time I commented on this story do you not think?

Last week the Church of England Newspaper published a column by Alan Craig, the head of the Christian People’s Alliance. You can find the piece here. Needless to say, it attracted a huge amount of attention, as exampled by this piece from the Guardian.

An Anglican newspaper has defended the publication of an article that compares gay rights campaigners to Nazis, saying the author has “pertinent views”.

The column, by former east London councillor Alan Craig, appeared in the 28 October edition of the Church of England Newspaper, one of the oldest newspapers in the world. Although it is independent of the institution bearing the same name, it carries adverts for Church of England jobs and is read by its clergy.

In his column Craig referred to a number of high-profile legal cases where Christians claim to have been penalised for their views on homosexuality.

He wrote: “Having forcibly – and understandably – rectified the Versailles-type injustices and humiliations foisted on the homosexual community, the UK’s victorious Gaystapo are now on a roll. Their gay-rights stormtroopers take no prisoners as they annex our wider culture, and hotel owners, registrars, magistrates, doctors, counsellors, and foster parents … find themselves crushed under the pink jackboot.

“Thanks especially to the green light from a permissive New Labour government, the gay Wehrmacht is on its long march through the institutions and has already occupied the Sudetenland social uplands of the Home Office, the educational establishment, the politically-correct police. Following a plethora of equalities legislation, homosexuals are now protected and privileged by sexual orientation regulations and have achieved legal equality by way of civil partnerships. But it’s only 1938 and Nazi expansionist ambitions are far from sated.”

Craig told the Guardian he was “pretty careful” to distinguish between the leadership of gay rights groups and “ordinary gay people”.

“I’ve nothing against ordinary gay people but the leadership, well I stick by my word Gaystapo. It is bullying. I oppose bullying and hatred in all its forms. There is no justification for the bullying or intimidation of gays and that has been rectified in law, but we’ve moved on to a new game. We’re now seeing these attitudes of intolerance they accuse their opponents of.”

The weekly paper, which was founded in 1828 and has a circulation of around 8,000, takes pride in its reputation of being a “bastion of conservative evangelicalism”. Its editor, Colin Blakely, defended the “Gaystapo” article.

“He has got views that are pertinent on this issue. I was on holiday that week and if I had seen it I would have asked him to tone the language down somewhat. We’re getting a lot of correspondence on this column. He has not won a lot of support with readers and we’re publishing letters. We want people to engage with the issue.”

Ben Summerskill, the Stonewall chief executive, condemned the column and the newspaper. “Given the horrific circumstances of the Holocaust, it is deeply disturbing and highly offensive that the Church of England Newspaper has chosen to compare supporters of equality with Nazis. We are sure that many of the paper’s advertisers, such as the University of Sheffield, will be deeply disturbed to read this crass and homophobic article.”

Bishop Alan Wilson of Buckingham summed up the feelings of many when he wrote,

Back on the beaches, Craig rambles through a laboured analogy of all gay campaigners to Nazis. We are never told exactly how this works, because Craig gets carried away on his own Biggles-like account of the rise and fall of nazism, checked off against the supposed gay agenda that he says is about to engulf English civilisation.

Craig calls us to confront what he calls the “Gay Wehrmacht on its long march”. He warns us that the gays also have “Oberkommandos” and a “Gaystapo”. Some will remember the bishop of Lewes urging us last year to clunk-click into our Spitfires and sort out the gay Luftwaffe, so they’ve obviously got one of those, too. Worst of all, Craig assures us, it’s still only 1938. In his world, it probably is.

The Church of England Newspaper has no official status. I don’t read it and hadn’t seen the original article on 28 October. Neither, apparently, had the paper’s editor who says he is too busy always to read the stuff he publishes, but assures us that if he had, he would have asked Craig to tone down his language a bit.

I would defend, even on the beaches, the right of eccentrics to hold and publish their views, though I’d prefer them to read them first. May I modestly propose, however, that real debate would be served far better by ditching inflammatory second world war references, certainly those whose relevance cannot be established.

There may be no easy way to say this to boys brought up on a diet of commando comics that seem to have formed a whole world view, but the time has come to move on, stick the last pig-dog where it belongs, and grow up.

If we must bring Hitler into the story of the growth of gay rights, anyone who knows anything of the reality behind Craig’s cheap imagery will tell you gay people were prime targets of the Nazi regime, who suffered and died at the hands of its real troops. This shouldn’t be forgotten at remembrance tide.

In some sense Alan Wilson is right – the problem with this piece is not necessarily the points that are trying to be made (which we will come onto shortly) but rather the manner in which those points were made. Yes, some people didn’t read what Alan actually wrote (which we will also come onto shortly), but then again they may not have been in the mood to.

So what was basis of Alan Craig’s argument? Basically, that the rise of a particular pro sexual liberty mindset and the interaction of that mindset with the wider society is analagous to  the way that Nazism arose in 20s and 30s Germany and finally exhibited itself in the 40s. We must be careful to note though that Alan Craig is not arguing that all gay people are Nazis (which is what some took him to mean). To interpret his piece as saying such is to demonstrate in the reader an inability to grapple with the language being deployed, to allow one’s emotional response to overcome one’s literary-critical response. Such a reader is not actually reading Alan Craig’s piece but is rather reading what they believe Alan Craig actually means behind the language he uses. It is always supremely dangerous to assume you know what a writer meant when he penned certain words, even if that understanding is not actually laid out explicitly in the text.

Which is not to defend what Alan Craig has written. It is a poor, misjudged piece which ruins a number of salient observations by using the Nazi analogy. The problem with such an analogy is that it carries with it exactly the level of emotional engagement that we have seen translated into a furious condemnation of the column. Although Craig’s fundamental premise that traditionalists and the traditionalist position have been backed into a corner is copiously documented, these examples, the evidence in the trial Craig was trying to present, were hardly touched in the over a hundred comments that ensued on his blog. This demonstrates clearly that the underlying purpose of the post was not achieved because the issues that Craig wanted to raise were simply not discussed, in a similar manner that for a fortnight or more the aims (if there are any) of the Occupy LSX camp were lost in a sea of media reporting of the storm over St Paul’s, it’s closure and it’s clergy’s resignations.

Interestingly, the only paragraph that really manages a palpable hit is the one with the least World War Two references to it. Craig writes,

But the hidden hegemonic ambitions of the Gaystapo have been exposed recently by their plans to annex and redefine ‘marriage’. They already have achieved equal rights through civil partnerships, so to covet the word and undermine a foundation-stone of our civilisation – and nurturing place for our children – betrays other more ominous intentions. They want to change our language, manipulate our culture and thereby impose their world-view on us all. Cultural domination is their aim and fascist-type intolerance (here) of politically-incorrect dissent (here) is their weapon. The eradication of marriage as “the life-long union between a man and a woman” is a huge next step along their way.

Strip away “the Gaystapo” and replace with “this lobby” and you a left with a controversial, but intellectually robust and coherent argument, that the libertarian cult of the Zeitgeist threatens in its legislating for equality to outlaw freedom of thought and conscience of practice. Imagine if the use of “fascist” here was the only such reference in the piece; it would have far more effect and help to crystallise in the reader’s mind the issue of potential authoritarian thought control. Instead, this increasingly vital point around civil and religious liberty in a country where police now make inquisitive house calls simply if your café displays Bible verses on a screen is lost, drowning in a combination of hyperbole and high-intensity historical comparison.

The lesson of this is quite simple. If conservative Christians want to engage seriously in the political sphere around issues of religious tolerance and socio-political change in statutory structures (e.g. gay marriage), they need to use tactics slightly more sophisticated than a Daily Mail front-piece. Alan Craig actually has a number of vital points to make regarding the ongoing and future positioning of various revisionist lobby groups in our society in upcoming culture battles, but the manner in which he went about it not only obscured any salient arguments he had but actually end up damaging his position. It is doubtful whether many in the mainstream will take him seriously again; he will now forever be the man who wrote that column in the Church of England Newspaper, when what he and others actually want to do is get the best arguments in favour of the conservative position into the daily broadsheets.

58 Comments on “A Nazi Analogay

  1. Firstly, “changing language” is not necessarily a bad thing. A society that condemns “kike” is less likely to lead to (yes, Nazi-style) anti-semitic persecution; so, too, with the fact that poof, faggot etc etc tend not be suitable for polite society these days. If you want an apt analogy try this one: why not ask a black person is society was “freer” when “coon” and “nigger” were acceptable terms? What are the implications of the fact that it is only when it comes to gays that “changing language” is supposed to smack of jackbooted persecution? Surely Jews and blacks, in Craig’s mad logic, also “annexed” our culture by endevouring to cleanse it of racism and antisemitism?

    Also, if you want to talk factually – which is to say historically – the “revisionists” are those who claim that ‘marriage’ is and always was about the marriage of one man and one woman for the raising of children. Amusing how many Christian fundamentalists appear not to have read the OT these days….

    I think I’ll go read Gore Vidal’s “The Pink Triangle and the Yellow Star”

    • @cerebusboy Good points Ryan. I am just waiting to see how many Christians come tumbling to Craig’s defence to say what he likes.

      • @Tom Jones Thanks Tom. Surprised Jill hasn’t been buy to accuse the Terrence Higgins Trust and Albert Kennedy Trust of being secret Nazi fronts for teh Evil Gay Agenda (and,curiously, when my Bible refers to the need to look after the sick and the needy – which those organisations, in reality, do, it doesn’t have the “unless they’re homos” sub-clause that Jill’s translation presumably has).

        • @cerebusboy@Tom Jones

          Ryan, you’ve missed me! How sweet! Mwah.

          Actually I agree (mostly) with Peter. While it is true that perhaps a better analogy could have been used (although it is quite hard to think of one) the points are very valid, but sadly will be lost as some people are incapable of reasoned debate, and find it much easier to simply vilify the writer. I think ‘Godwin’s law’ was invented for that very purpose – to intimidate and suppress. Of course the Guardian and Twitterati very quickly latch on to something like this and their minions will obediently flock to do their bidding.

        • @cerebusboy@Tom Jones

          There is a very annoying character limit on this board!

          When ordinary people are terrified of losing their jobs or being punished in some other way for daring to say what people have always said but is now apparently unsayable, one cannot help but feel the heel of the jackboot.

          I have posted elsewhere, but will post here too, an article by Johann Hari written a few years back which addresses similar issues:


          You will note that he too used the term ‘gaystapo’ but seems to have miraculously escaped the fate of Alan Craig. Why is this?

        • @Jill@Tom Jones mwah? how camp! There’s hope for you yet ;-)

          Godwin’s law is no such thing, of course (unlike http://changingminds.org/disciplines/argument/fallacies/fallacies_alpha.htm )

          But it does usefully characterise a particular strain of bad debate.

          When ordinary people are terrified of losing their jobs or being punished in some other way for daring to say what people have always said but is now apparently unsayable,

          The problem is not that nothing can be compared with Nazis, but that the gay people=nazis one is utterly ludicrous, and has something of the…bad taste (to say the least) of Jews=zionists=nazis.

          Look at people who talk of “poppy fascists”. What happens if you don’t wear a poppy? Some tutting and disapproval. Were fascists states characterised by mere “disapproval” of certain things? Of course not. So the analogy’s crap.

          so too with people being “terrified” of Teh Gay Agenda. That’s proof of their irrational beliefs, not the Gay Lobby’s Elders of Zion style crackdown of free speech

          I’m curious about your point on the “unsayable”. Serious question: was the world a better place when one could say “nigger” and “paki” in polite company? That is demonstrably an example of a kind of “free speech” that WAS acceptable, but no longer is. What are the implications of the fact that racist free speech is not accepted as a loss but the homophobic kind is? Sounds like people are being a bit selective about what constitutes “free” speech, no? And the team behind Section 28 suddenly pretending libertarian free speech enthusiasts would be funny if it wasn’t so ludicrous (is the THT website not a kind of free speech Jill, or do the rules not apply to non-heterosexuals?)

        • @Jill@Tom Jones You will note that he too used the term ‘gaystapo’ but seems to have miraculously escaped the fate of Alan Craig. Why is this?

          Yes, and have you noticed that those hip-hopping scallywags often use the N-word whereas white people like Ron Atkinson aren’t allowed to? Someone really ought to petition the UN!


          Oh, and Hari was using it to refer to ACTUAL fascists, unlike Craig. Nice try.

        • But I think it’s fair to say that the unreasoned debate in this case was caused by Alan Craig’s unfortunate use of this analogy.

        • @Jill@Tom Jones <B> Of course the Guardian and Twitterati very quickly latch on to something like this and their minions will obediently flock to do their bidding.</B>

          Minions? Bidding? Do you do the “Daily Mail’s” bidding? (actually, don’t answer that).

          You might find this hard to believe, but people read the Guardian because they like it, and such people might quite organically object to them or their loved being demonised and compared to nazis (Did you know that lots of people with kids read the non-homphobic Guardian? How can this be? Perhaps your sexual stereotypes are…dare one say……………false? )

        • @peterould The original analogy is wackadoo and offensive (in the “I can’t believe your proposing this as serious discourse” sense, not the “your views make me feel mad!” one). Critics are reaction to irrationality (perhaps, admittedly, with some irrationality of their own in certain cases); not creating it.

          A useful truism might be “if you’re gonna compare somebody or something with Nazis, you ought to be able to back it up”. Craig opted to use the Nazi gambit (as it were) and produced some utter nonsense (replete with first year uni style repetition of key phrases in a bid to make his guff seem relevant) and brought the response upon himself. I’d say that response to “writing in public” are a free speech issue, too; if you can’t stand the heat……….. :)

        • @peterould And it’s hardly entirely guileless and unfortunate. I’m sure that, as a piece of dogwhistling rhetoric, it will hit the mark (one can just imagine the ‘Christian’ Institute-type ‘Christian Compares Gays to Nazis and the Response Proves Him Right!’ journalism, doubtless, as we speak, boards are being scoured for evidence of death threats against Craig, which will be offered as proof of the merits of his analogy (‘here we have a homosexual, Nazi-style, wanting to kill someone for their views, just as Craig alleged” ) etc

        • @peterould

          Indeed, Peter, and I am always trying to persuade people to tone down the rhetoric, as it actually harms reasonable arguments, as in this case.

          The thing is, we Brits are accustomed to being able to say what we think about moral issues. Those of us who live in blogland now know that this is no longer the case, but there are still plenty who do not realise this until it is too late.

          Peter Hitchens wrote in one of his books (it might have been the Abolition of Britain, but I can’t remember) that he was advised to remove the chapter he wrote about homosexuality, as the rest of the content would be ignored because of the furore over this one chapter (which was in fact quite mild, merely asking the question of why the powers-that-be strained every nerve to stop people damaging their health by smoking and over-eating, but did dot apply these criteria to homosexual practices. He actually did remove the chapter, but reinstated it on the second edition.

        • @Jill@peterould Wouldn’t any genuine conservative say that a Britain has a right to smoke and eat unhealthily if he so chooses, and that attempts of the Nanny State to encroach on such liberty should be resisted? Why is that not also true of what consenting adult britains get up to in their bedrooms? I do hope that Hitchens doesn’t share you delusion that the Government is either directly or via the back door (er,as it were ;-)) trying to “encourage” people to try e.g. fisting!

          And how can you not say what you think on moral issues? Isn’t that, in fact, exactly what you’re doing? Have the police been round to steal your PC? Or give you a warning?

          I’m reminded of the time you bemoaned the fact that too many gay (or was it just ‘pro-gay’) people commented on this blog (!), suggesting that you’re confusing the right to free speech for a spurious “right” to have everyone agree with you when you make comments in public. The latter is certainly consistent with a slippery slope to fascism….

        • @Jill@Tom Jones There is a very annoying character limit on this board!

          come on, all sorts of strange characters are allowed to post here! ;-)

          Actually, I agree with Jill (it’s a miracle! ;-)) , Peter. The new design is fandabidozie in a lot of ways, but the character limit is a bit frustrating (especially since you only know you’ve gone over it when you get the error message!)

          • OK, let me see if I can do anything to fix that. Do you happen to know what the character limit is?

            In general, do people prefer the new system? Are there any commenting systems you’ve seen elsewhere that you think might do an even better job?

    • @cerebusboy I should have added for clarity, despite the effects that Peter has pointed out (in his last paragraph).

    • @cerebusboy Surely Craig’s first paragraph (amongst all the hyperbole) makes the point that the removal of language like “poof” and “bender” is a positive thing?

      • @peterould And that paragraph is but lip service to “I’m not homophobic, but” nonsense. C.f. also Craig’s attempted dichotomy between gay people and gay activists. Gay “activists” are an organic expression of the fact that ordinary gay people want equal treatment, the fact that every single one doesn’t cut cheques to Stonewall is essentially irrelevant (perhaps a good analogy would be to those young women who don’t use the term “feminist” despite taking feminism’s cultural victories for granted?) . He might as well say that he likes “negroes”, just not the “uppity” ones.

        And, to further the analogy, was black people not being called “nigger” considered the principle victory in fight to equal treatment? Of course not. The change fuctioned, usefully, as an outwards and visible sign of a shift away from dehumanising attitudes; compare and contrast with the notion, in Craig’s world, that gays don’t get called poof as much these days, so really have nothing to complain about.

        I’m intrigued at the notion of a societal heterosexist who supposedly has no problems with civil partnerships either. And, on a strictly historical point, is it not accurate to say that (in some cases) marriage was a secular institution that got taken over by the church, not the other way around?

        Also, I do have to laugh at Craig’s nonsensical accusation of Christians being persecuted by teh evil gays (a David Starkey youtube clip indeed! That’s me convinced). As for “fascist-type intolerance” ; I’m sure that certain people do “feel” persecuted because fag-baiting is no longer as popular as it once was. But, compared to real examples of persecution – such as the history of gay people in “Christian” Britain, which encompassed criminalisation and even the death penalty – such claims are demonstrably delusional and offensive.

        • ‘…compared to real example of persecution…’

          If you look back at the state of the legal system when the death penalty was applied for homosexual activity, quite a few groups (including trade unionists) might have something to complain about. Does that mean that any discussion about complex industrial issues can be closed down on the ground that unionists suffered bad things? The current claim is that Christians are losing jobs and the ability fully to participate in the public sphere because of their views. You might reject their claims on factual grounds. (It ain’t happening.) Or on evaluative grounds. (It should be happening.) But to suggest that there’s absolutely no issue here simply because gays suffered worse in the past is silly.

        • @cerebusboy@peterould

          ‘And, on a strictly historical point, is it not accurate to say that (in some cases) marriage was a secular institution that got taken over by the church, not the other way around?’

          Simplest answer -no. Firstly, you’re assuming a clear cut split between secular/religious which, difficult at any time, is impossible in pre-modern societies. (What would secular paganism look like?) It might be fairer to say ‘a pre-Christian institution which was taken over by the Church’ but I’m not sure why that’s any sort of objection. Lots of things belong to the natural life of human beings (eating, setting up societies, painting pictures). Christianity takes them and transforms them. But that doesn’t make them any less part of Christianity and subject to its analyses and critiques.

        • @Lazarus Lucky that’s not what I’m doing then, eh?

          the point was a contrast between real persecution and the kind that “Christian” Institute et all claim Christians are suffering from. If they did not make such specious “not only are gays not persecuted, they’re the ones persecuting us Christians!” analogies that people would not have to respond to them. To use your own example: I think someone claiming that “us Trade Unionists are persecuted like the Jews!” would have their beliefs characterised as (at best) silly.

        • @Lazarus@peterould I’m not assuming a clear split; I’m saying that marriages need not be a ‘Religious’ (let alone Monotheistic) rite, which is demonstrably true. The very existence of pagan marriages supports this point, irrespective of whether it would be anachronistic to put them in a particular category from later marriage discourse.

          Are (say) humanist weddings “part of” Christianity? They might be in the sense of a CCC type list of “errors” but that only reinforces the curious phenomena were gays are, ahistorically, seen as seeking to overturn an unbroken tradition of monogomous Christian marriage.

        • @cerebusboy But getting chucked out of your job is real persecution. And (if it’s happening -and it seems to be) surely it’s reasonable to complain about it.

        • @cerebusboy@peterould

          ‘Are (say) humanist weddings “part of” Christianity?’ From a Catholic point of view, yes, in the sense that morality is God given and marriage is part of morality. Put roughly, human nature is given by God, monogamous marriage is a requirement of human nature, and that has always been true, even if (without revelation) various cultures have misunderstood our nature and thus the nature of marriage.

          There is a difference between sacramental and non-sacramental marriages (depending on whether or not the parties are baptized). But even non-sacramental marriages are subject to natural law (ie the requirements of God given human nature).

        • @Lazarus Nobody has been fired for being a Christian. Most of these stories come from either the Daily Mail or The Christian Institute, and the former has a reputation for the worst kind of gutter-journalism for a reason, and the latter, similarly, gets their “cases” laughed out of court for a good cause. I’d also, were I a catholic, be extremely wary of seeking to make common cause with the Young Earth Creationists of the CI, who are just another expression of tub-thumping Sola Scriptura wannabe theocrats.

          Their most famous case is that of Nadia Ewada, the poor persecuted BA worker sacked for wearing a cross. Or so the CI would have you believe. In reality, the employment tribunal noted that she:”… generally lacked empathy for the perspective of others … her own overwhelming commitment to her faith led her at times to be both naive and uncompromising in her dealings with those who did not share her faith.”and :”[Eweida’s] insistence on privilege for Christmas Day is perhaps the most striking example in the case of her insensitivity towards colleagues, her lack of empathy for those without religious focus in their lives, and her incomprehension of the conflicting demands which professional management seeks to address and resolve on a near-daily basis.”

        • @Lazarus@peterould (cont)

          More recently, the CI did a story about a receptionist whose daughter was scolded for discussing Our Lord and, after understandably requesting prayers (via email) from her ‘trusted church friends’, she was reprimanded by the evil Head teacher.

        • @Lazarus@peterould This is the CI’s version: http://www.christian.org.uk/news/school-receptionist-faces-sack-over-prayer-request/The reality: teachers and pupils (who are closer to the event, and therefore can’t just be discounted as evil secular journalists) overwhelmingly backed the headteacher and refuted the CI’s distortions: (NB – you’ll note that this link is from a Christian website)http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/8662Overwhelming support for head teacher in school religion row14 Feb 2009Parents and local residents have overwhelmingly backed the head teacher of a Devon school where a young child upset a classmate by telling her that she would “go to hell”

        • @Lazarus@peterould if she did not believe in God.Gary Read, head of Landscore Primary School, Threshers, in Credition, explained to the 5-year-old and her mother, school receptionist Jennie Cain, that the behaviour was unacceptable after it caused another pupil to burst into tears.The story became local and national news after it got into the hands of the media and of campaigners who repeatedly claim Christians are being ‘persecuted’ in Britain when public bodies implement diversity policies.Governors are also investigating an email sent out by Mrs Cain which reached them, but which she says is private, and contains comments they feel are misrepresenting and discrediting the school.The local Express and Echo paper reports this morning that its readers “have inundated the paper’swww.thisisexeter.co.uk with comments supporting headteacher Gary Read’s actions.”Christians and a local Religious Education teacher are among those who have spoken out, saying that the school has a fine record of respecting different beliefs and values, and of trying to be decent and fair in its treatment of pupils.RE supervisor Cindy Greenow, of Crediton, wrote: “I find it very worrying that a school can be criticised for allowing a teacher to do their job…A child frightened and upset another, they were both spoken to in an effort to resolve the situation, and it is my understanding that at no point were either of them told ‘not to talk about God’.”The Telegraph and Mail newspapers are among those who have played up the incident.Philosopher Steven Law pointed out on his website that the original Telegraph story “omits one crucial detail – that the schools objection was not to a child talking to another about God and Jesus, but to one child scaring another to tears with threats of eternal damnation – thereby putting a very different spin on the story.”

        • @Lazarus@peterould And what about marriages that are not in accordance with “Natural Law”, eg OT polygamy? And surely two baptised (or even baptist) people getting married in a protestant church is qualitatively different to the Catholic Sacrament of Marriage?

          Not been a Catholic (mad props for the vestments tho! :)), I’m certainly not going to concede that, as the vatican has pretensions over Heaven, Earth and Hell, the demonstrably true fact that there were weddings ‘before’ the church is negated by the Church’s later ideological *claims* to them.

        • Well, there are lots of lovely detailed answers to the specific points you’ve mentioned! (Roughly, a) polygamy tolerated by specific divine dispensation but the natural law remaining on monogamy; and b) the parties to the marriage are ministers of the sacrament so, yes, two baptized Protestants are administering the (Catholic) sacrament.)

          But I’m sure such details are really beside the point unless you’ve signed up to the whole Catholic thing. (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09699a.htm though if you’re interested.) The main point is that Catholics think marriage is and has always been a matter of divine law and thus getting it right matters, whether the participants are Christian or not. So just like theft is and has always been a bad thing, the creation of immoral institutions is and has always been wrong. And there is a natural, divinely commanded pattern by which institutions created by (positive) law can be judged.

          On the other stuff regarding the Christian Institute, I’m sure some cases have been exaggerated. (But not all the reports are coming from the CI.) Equally, I’m sure that some Christians are suffering for their beliefs. Those sufferings are loss of livelihood and exclusion from the public sphere rather than loss of life or limbs. But unless you’re prepared to sound like some Monty Python Yorkshireman (‘Persecution? Persecution? You don’t know the meaning of the word! When I were a lad…’) you’d probably have a more plausible case accepting the reality of the harm and then trying to justify it, rather than simply denying its existence.

        • @Lazarus Hmm, doesn’t the church’s history still include the unions of e.g. St.Sergius and Bacchus suggesting that there are many points where an alleged unbroken (or at least *consistently*, logically and organically grown) tradition has in fact written out, or over what actually happened and was accepted? I’m not sure if it’s necessarily worldly (in the pejorative sense) for a generalised (or even Christian) seeker-after-truth to note that (for example), for all the Vatican’s claims, there isn’t much actual historical evidence to support the contention of Peter-as-first-Pope.

          The Catholic Church was also prone – entirely logically, the pronouncements against homosexuality by recent Holy Fathers certainly have more gravitas than the wingnut pronouncements by down-with-da-kidz evangementalists like Mark Driscoll – to claim that “error has no rights” and that pornography (and much else aside) should be illegal. So, even if the populace at large were against gay marriage, I don’t think they’d want to go along with capitulating to the view that organisations allegedly contrary to “Natural Law” (which, let’s face it, is in most of its expressions merely another form of pseudo-philosophical theological logic). C.f. the reaction of Catholic Spain to Gay Marriage.

          I’m more than willing to look at any other claims of gay marriage in the same depth I have above. In the last analysis, however, there remains something silly (at best) at people claiming to be persecuted because they can’t persecute group x (and that remains true whether group x is gays, Catholics, or any other group you care to name)

        • @Lazarus gah, claims of “persecution” that should be! And, in the middle paragraph, the point is that people wouldn’t want to go along with the view that things posited as contrary to Natural Law ought to be proscribed. “Natural Law”, in most of its expressions, is religioise pseudo-philosophical logic, not the dispassionate reiteration of objectively perceivable and objectively promulgated capital-t Truth. It ‘feels’ Natural to the (especially) Catholic of course – unsurprising, as they are already on board with the rest of the theological system and the presuppositions behind it! But frankly “arguments-from-plumbing” are shoddy in a way notions of Scripture and Magisterium are Not, so I don’t think Natural Law (in practice) functions as any kind of serious argument. The finest philosophers in the land could, prior to proper medical science, not come up with anything better than the “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_humours” understanding of the body, and I’d argue that contemporary (e.g.) anti-gay Natural Law arguments display quite as much inappropriate (and needless) privileging of the abstractly philosophical and schematic over actual empirical fact, science and biology.

          Bring back the edit feature ;-)

        • @Lazarus Yes, I liked the Monty Python reference …

          I accept harm happens. Two friends of mine have lost their full-time pastorates this year for showing some support for same-sex unions. A part-time youth worker we know has suffered similarly. Just within the last few days a couple we have known for twenty years were removed from their lay leadership roles for “being open to argument”.

        • @MartinReynolds@Lazarus Alas it is not only Christians who are persecuted though you would hardly think so to listen to the Christian Institute and Christian Concern for Our Nation. We should be careful though. Freedom to express an opinion is not the same think as freedom to discriminate or freedom to impose one’s worldview. CI and CCFON can’t or won’t understand this.

        • @cerebusboy ‘so I don’t think Natural Law (in practice) functions as any kind of serious argument.’

          ‘Natural law’ is rather a broad term and I’m still not quite sure whether it’s helpful to brand Catholic arguments in this area as based on natural law. However, whatever its limitations as a term, it does focus on two realities: firstly, that Catholic teaching in this area is based on an assessment of human nature and what harms and benefits it; and secondly, that focusing on human nature (rather than scripture) might provide a way to engage with a non-Christian society. in that an (admittedly incomplete) account of human nature can be given in terms which do not rely on revelation and which do have a point of contact with secularized Western culture in Graeco-Roman philosophy. (Moreover, from a Catholic point of view, such an account is not a betrayal or watering down of the full Christian position, but rather a preparation for it.)

        • @Lazarus I know what Natural Law claims to be but, examined in the same way one would any other philosophical or pseudo-philosophical system it falls down utterly, and I think some people very strangely (in the context of a Search for Truth) give it a free pass because it’s been kicking around since Greco-Roman times. For examples, observed “objectively” the amount of sperm the human male produces hardly supports the notion that ejaculation self-evidently is only to occur in heterosexual contexts and purely for procreation, And of course the Vatican – in contrast to nutty fundamentalists who madly claim to be “orthodox” – accepts evolution; I’m not sure how the vas deferens (great name for a band, eh? ;-))or coccyx fits into Natural Law talk of the body’s “meaning”, nor that the alternative – privileging the genitalia as uniquely “meaning-denoting” physical organs ultimately holds up either. And Vatican teaching isn’t really based on observation of objective harm – masturbation, say, decreases the risk of prostate cancer and does not warrant conflating with (e.g.) pornography use per se. One reason why people are sceptical about claims on the self-evident “unnatural” dangers of homosexual practise – on top of the fact that such dangers are usually expressed in Mickey Mouse “gay men only live till they’re 40” “facts” like those of Paul Maxfield – is the fact that , historically, arguments on the biological dangers of certain sex acts don’t have much of a hit rate. Remember when they said masturbation when turn you mad? A proposition that most of mankind have been vigorously disproving for centuries ;)

        • @Tom Jones@MartinReynolds@Lazarus

          ‘Impose one’s worldview’, Tom? What can you mean? Impose a worldview that is different from yours, I suspect. Otherwise how would William Wilberforce, Florence Nightingale, Mother Teresa, Lord Shaftesbury, William Booth, and countless others who have effected social reform have managed to do what they did? It was Christians who provided education for the poor, and Christianity which has shaped the laws of this land in a way that we have been able to live relatively peacably for hundreds of years.

          If that is ‘imposing the Christian worldview’ then we must fight to defend it.

        • @cerebusboy As I said, the term ‘natural law’ is a broad one, and you’re focusing on the teleological aspects of biology. I think a (non-religious) argument can be made for that part of natural law, but it’s not the part I’d start off with in trying to convince someone who wasn’t already signed up! Instead I’d start with the function (the telos, if you prefer) of the institution of marriage. What social purpose does that institution serve? (And then we go down the route of examining how marriage serves the purpose of ensuring the successful rearing of children etc.)

          On your point that the Vatican tends to make up its objective harms, well, obviously not something you can deal with in a short combox debate -and certainly, not something where, by noting that sometimes someone makes mistakes in one area, we can conclude that it always makes mistakes, or that the notion of objective harm has no purchase: some human behaviours do produce harm and it’s going to be relevant to consider what they are. Moreover, the nature of the harm needn’t be as clearcut as you’re suggesting: there are harms which are not physical, but which involve the virtues or vices of character such as temperance or wisdom, indulgence or foolishness. Debates of harm in that area are going to be less clearcut than debates on physical harm -but that doesn’t mean to say that such harms don’t exist, or that any account of human flourishing (the central notion of natural law ethics, secular or religious) can avoid engaging with them, complex though they are.

        • @Jill@Tom Jones@MartinReynolds@Lazarus Firstly, Christians providing education for the poor, aeons ago, in no-way gives them a “free pass” for every kind of belief or action by anyone today who self-describes as a Christian.

          Secondly, the banner of liberation, heroically carried by some of the figures you cite, also encompassed a diminuation of antisemitism and the incident of Catholic empancipation. Which is to be celebrated of course, but it does mean that Jewish people and Catholic people aren’t really going to think that Britain has an unbroken tradition of liberty for all. I think CS Lewis would (or, perhaps, should) be spinning in his Anglo-Catholic grave at the thought of becoming a posterboy for the dumbest kinds of creotard evangelical Christianity, and I think a similar point could be made to the linkage of the resounding names of Wilbeforce et all to “No Pooves Allowed” B and B owners. And, on a slight tangent, perhaps fans of Wilberforce could abstain from demonising the word “liberal”, which (as Gore Vidal pointed out) comes from the root word meaning “pertaining to a free man”?

          Thirdly, the laws of the land are those of a democracy, not Theocracy. As analogy: antisemitism was the rule, not the exception, in Christendom for centuries; in a free society, that does not mean that those who are anti-semities “on religious grounds” can discriminate as they see fit in any and all circumstances. So too with those who think citing Leviticus gives them a free pass to decide which members of the public they can discriminate against.

        • @cerebusboy@Jill@MartinReynolds@Lazarus Well put Ryan, Jill, Martin, Laz, I remember Professor Geoffrey Alderman saying that when he entered Linacre College Oxford as an undergraduate he looked up at the portraits of all the Anglican Divines glowering down on him from the walls of hall and he answered in his mind “I’m here despite you all”, a Jewish version of “We’re here, we’re queer get used to it”. But what the CI, the CCFON and some others yearn for are the lost days of unquestioned Christian privilege (alas and alack). That’s what their worldview consists of, Jill.

        • @Tom Jones@Jill@MartinReynolds@Lazarus Thanks Tom, and well said yourself. A problem for the CI et all is that evangelical churches tend to be aimed at and full of women (and some camp men ;-)). Such modern-professional working women – assuming that they are intellectually honesty – can, given feminism 20th century’s victories, hardly celebrate talk of centuries of liberty in Christian Britain. Similarly, I recall one evangelical saying that Christians are persecuted by citing an example of a couple who (get this) were not allowed to have homophobic leaflets in public spaces “balance” out gay ones. Do such people also believe that racist groups should get public funding, or is homophobic abuse to be uniquely privleged? And I can think of few things more unintentionally hilarious than the “Keep the Clause!” no-gays-on-TV brigade suddenly pretending to be free speech purists.

          Here in Scotland, the episcopalians were persecuted by religious fundamentalists (bloody Calvinists, eh? ;-)), and yet one still has to deal with evangelical (psuedo) piskies pining for the (alleged) good old theocratic days!

  2. Part of the problem here is the nature of the audience the piece is directed at: is it a rallying cry addressed to the faithful or an attempt to change minds? Too many debates in this area are simply about keeping the morale of ‘our side’ up, and a rhetoric of oppression, Nazis etc does this well (at least in the short term). But it’s utterly hopeless at getting points across to a wider audience.

  3. Not only is the original piece offensive, it’s not even original! As noted, Johann Hari had a similar rant on the Huffington Post some years ago, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-strange-strange-story_b_136697.html and he probably lifted it from a book called the Pink Swastica – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pink_Swastika – and have a look at the link to Scott Lively, an ex gay fantasist. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Lively Johann Hari, of course, has recently been revealed as something of a fantasist himself.

  4. I have said before (I think here!) that the CEN has a better nose for a story than the Church Times though some of the people who have filled its column inches are so partisan in their reportage they make The Daily Mail look balanced, reasonable and fair. But this piece, as everyone seems to agree, is very poor indeed.

    Unlike Peter I don’t think there is anything to substantiate on any real level anything this article suggests though I believe in the process of changing from a theocratic (small t) to a secular state we have seen a few idiotic decisions and some very bruised egos, but in general there have been only a few minor irritations when one considers the major change taking place.

    Taking the point made in the paragraph Peter highlights:

    “But the hidden hegemonic ambitions of the Gaystapo (this lobby) have been exposed recently by their plans to annex and redefine ‘marriage’.”

    As a retired “this lobby” person I would suggest that the facts completely contradict this.

    For most of the time I was around we were alone in advocating marriage equality. The main gay lobby organisations were anti marriage and formed policy around replacing it as the gold standard with civil partnership allowing marriage as a bolt-on.

    Indeed that remained the not at all hidden policy of the main lobby group “Stonewall” until earlier this year when a grassroots rebellion threatened to topple the ” hegemonic ambitions” of its leader who unenthusiastically acquiesced.

    By the time the main gay lobby organisations came round to marriage equality organisations like the Quakers and other non gay groups had already convinced the party machines to start moving forward. New Labour was the least willing to support the principle of marriage equality yet even they fell in line.

    I think that may be where the problem lies and strangely it turns Alan Craig’s argument completely on its head.

    With Conservative PM Cameron saying he is pro gay marriage BECAUSE he is a Conservative where do those deeply opposed to the principle of marriage equality turn – sadly the only political party with a policy opposed to gay marriage has a distinctive flavour that many say is wholly Fascist.

    • @MartinReynolds Yes, and where do the 57% of the Christians polled go when they say they won’t vote for the Conservative Party again? New Labour, Lib Dems? I hardly think they are going to give them what they want. So some kind of Christian alliance party along the lines of the Rev George Hargreaves’s party then? We’ve nothing to fear.

  5. I must admit I always chuckle when I see articles like this one. The faces people make when chewing on sour grapes can be rather entertaining.

    Being a bad loser and slagging off your victorious opponent is all part of the great British tradition of fair play, isn’t it? Let this guy have his rant. He’s just letting off the steam generated by feelings of powerlessness and impotence. Times are hard for control freaks these days. They can’t impose their beliefs on the rest of us any more and that just makes them crazy.

    Let them be crazy, I say. The Nazi analogy puts this guy in the league of Fred Phelps. That’s where the public perception of him and his organisation will end up, so it’s all good as far as the LGBT community is concerned.



  6. In their anxiety to bring down Councillor Craig, it seems that gay activists have overlooked the fact that he is the principal campaigner against the East London Megamosque, which is far, far more of a threat to gay people than Alan Craig will ever be.


      • @cerebusboy@Jill I have just been sent this report from the House of Lords about the Christian Institute. Exceptionally CI did not report the Craig Gaystapo fiasco unlike Christian Concern for Our Nation, but it had other fish to fry. We know they have been mendacious about gay people, now two Lords have been on the receiving end:

        “Peers attack Christian Institute for lies about sex education proposals Two peers have condemned a “cruel” and “vicious” campaign against them by the Christian Institute which claimed they wanted to make personal, social and health education (PSHE) compulsory for five-year-olds. This includes education about sex and relationships.

        NSS honorary associate Baroness Massey of Darwen put forward an amendment to the Education Bill calling for school inspectors to consider the wellbeing of children and report on issues such as policies on bullying and the delivery of sex education. Baroness Walmsley was not proposing an amendment at all, contrary to the Institute’s accusations.

        The Christian Institute issued misleading and inaccurate information in an attempt to derail the amendment. This included writing to members of the House of Lords, trying to manipulate the Bill debates.

        …to be continued

      • @cerebusboy@Jill


        ” During the debate, Lady Massey said: “Never in my time in this House have I known such a sinister and vicious campaign that has sought to misinform others. Noble Lords will have received hundreds if not thousands of letters, sent to your lordships taking up your time and energy and I find this deeply regrettable.”

        Lady Walmsley added that: “The Christian Institute recently sent out a letter in which they claimed that I would be laying an amendment to make PSHE compulsory. As your lordships can see, this is not true. They also claimed in a subsequent letter that my fictional amendment and Lady Massey’s amendment would force schools to teach five-year-olds about sex. Also not true.

        “There have been wicked insinuations that we would want to do something that would harm children and their innocence. … So we had a so-called Christian organisation telling lies and being both uncharitable and cruel.”

        The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds subsequently apologised for the behaviour of the Christian Institute during the debate on Lady Massey’s amendment. Bishop Packer said: “While I have no responsibility for the Christian Institute, I want to apologise for any errors or false accusations made in the name of Christianity. I also want to affirm, as clearly as I possibly can, the enormous contributions made by the noble Baronesses, Lady Massey and Lady Walmsley, to the interests of children in successive debates within this House. I am grateful for all that they have done in the cause of children here.”

        The Institute itself has not responded or issued any kind of apology.

        Following assurances from the Government, Lady Massey withdrew her amendment without a vote.

        The Christian Institute’s report on PSHE called Too Much Too Young can be read here (pdf) and a response from the Sex Education Forum setting out why their allegations are false is here.

        The Government is currently running a consultation on PSHE. The NSS will be submitting a response to the consultation and you can read our response to the 2010 consultation on Sex and Relationships Education guidance here (pdf).” from the NSS Newsletter.

        • @Tom Jones@Jill Thanks Tom. Can’t say I’m surprised. Was perusing some “C”I material earlier and found that, in its material on homosexuality, it repeated the idea that (get this) most straight men could be convinced into trying it unless society cracks down on its “promotion”. I know of know “real” straight man who would agree with that, which perhaps tell us where the ‘C’I is coming from.

          The only attempt to take a council to court for breaking Section 28 was in Glasgow and whipped up by ‘C’I – who got laughed out of court as usual of course. Also amusing that the women convinced to be the ‘C’I’s front for the case is the wife of a guy who was a student, training to be a minister – which meant, as students don’t pay council tax here, that he contributed a lot less to the “Taxypayer’s Money” pot than the many gays of Glasgow!

          The C’I’s material on homosexuality also claims that (get this) close to 90% of gay men DO have anal sex – and close to 90% of straight guys DON’T (!!). Promiscuity (and, in my opinion, blowjobs and bumming) are, as even Robert Gagnon has conceded, popular ‘male’ interests – not perverse, minority ‘gay’ ones.

          Doubtless the survey takers also believe that everyone drinks less than 2 units of alcohol a day, doesn’t lie, never eats to much, never watches porn or racey movies, goes to church…. ;-)

    • @Jill Oh Jill, you are a giggle a minute, you really are. Just picture Craig, our lone saviour against the jihadist hordes of Genghis Khan bursting from the Mega-Mosque to sweep through England, under the Channel and across Europe, this time not stopping short at the gates of Rome, engulfing all before them in dimmitude and obligatory burkhaisation of women. At least gays will be able to get back into the closet unlike you women who will all be incarcerated into harems, married off in groups of four and never allowed out shopping again.

      But serious, is that the only option for the rest of us who don’t share Craig’s paranoic fantasies, a choice between islamofascism or christofascism? As we commemorate the fallen in two world wars fought in the name of freedom, I don’t think the world is ready for another religiously inspired dark ages, ushering in any kind of Fourth Reich. There are too many of us now whose necks aren’t under the crozier or the scimitar and we are all too educated to fall for apocalyptic scare-à-la-Harold-Camping-tactics despite the efforts of American creationist fundamentalists to halt the march of scientific discovery.

      Now, to improve your considerable knowledge of gay men’s lives I recommend you try to get to see a really truthfully told film ‘Weekend’. I’ve just come in from seeing it and think everyone who has any kind of view about gay men’s lives, whether favourable or disapproving, should take time to see it. (And so even if you wouldn’t take anything I’d recommend you might be encouraged that The Telegraph gave it five stars):


  7. @Lazarus No argument on the last point Lazarus – if conservatives had stuck to “masturbation will send you to hell” arguments – instead of quasi-medical “masturbation will make you blind” ones, then perhaps the world would have more time for their current anti-gay ones! (understand that I am by no means agreeing with the “throw the baby out with the bathwater” response to e.g. scientific claims made by religious organisations) However I can dimly recall psychology being invoked in relation to masturbation in the C.C.C. – and if psychology (or sociology, or biological etc) is offered as a support for a Natural Law type argument, then it is legitimate to respond in those terms. Haven’t read the CCC for at least seven years, tho, so mea culpa if I’m misremembering (do have a soft spot for some aspects of Rome, but protestantism gave the world the Glorious Glasgow Rangers FC, and is ergo clearly superior! ;-))

    • @cerebusboy Sorry, missed this response: it seems to have fallen out of order. (Another violation of the natural law??!)

      Putting aside (important!) details on why masturbation or indeed homosexual activity mightn’t in fact send you to hell (eg questions of the subjective state of the person performing the sin), the underlying point of principle is that there are divine purposes built into the structure of the world: biological, psychological whatever. Moreover, the goods/harms created by those different purposes are various. So an objectively wrong action might produce all sorts of harms: hell, psychological damage, physical damage etc. It depends on your audience which of those harms might be most obvious: with an evangelical Protestant, a Catholic would be able to share scriptural insights; with a secular liberal, issues of the common (social) good might be an easier access point.

      The main criticism of masturbation in the Catechism is that ‘sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved’ (CCC2352). Not just psychology, but certainly not just a quasi-mechanical view of body bits either.

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