Yesterday, I posted about some of the comments coming from American Evangelicals toward Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. In it, I argued that Socialism is no more unbiblical than other political theories and the language being used to excoriate AOC inadvertently implicates Christian brothers and sisters from other parts of the world. You can read the full post here.
Never let it be said that I am nothing if not balanced. Just as yesterday I was defending the right of believers to be Socialist, today let me defend the right of Christians to support UKIP. Obviously, yesterday was much easier for me because I consider myself both a Christian and a Socialist. I do not subscribe to much of what UKIP stand for.
But it has come up because I came across this story yesterday. The thrust of the story concerns the Chief Executive of the charity Women’s Aid, Katie Ghose. Ghose has left her position “by mutual agreement” which, as we all know, is a euphemism for being sacked. And what was her gross misconduct? She gave a speech at the 2015 UKIP conference in her capacity as head of the Electoral Reform Society.
It is bad enough that Ghose should be sacked for giving a speech at UKIP’s conference. However, what is particularly ridiculous is that she doesn’t even support UKIP. In fact, as Tom Slater reports, ‘In her speech, she praised UKIP – along with the Lib Dems, the Greens and Plaid Cymru, other small parties who felt disadvantaged by Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system – for backing the campaign for a more proportional electoral system… She didn’t praise Kippers’ policies, or endorse them for office, purple Union Flag fluttering behind her.’
Just as there is a brand of American Evangelical ready to lambast any Christian who would be a Socialist, so there is a brand of right-on charity ready to excoriate (or sack) those who might say anything positive about right-wing parties. The irony here is that both sides would be (rightly) offended by the other insisting they are beyond the pale whilst simultaneously maintaining that the other is beyond the pale. Both want the right to speak whilst insisting that the other shouldn’t speak (or be).
What is insane is that Twittermobs used to go after you for things that you thought. That is its own problem stopping us engaging meaningfully with anybody who thinks differently to us. But now it seems they are prepared to hunt you down for daring to even offer an alternate opinion to those with whom you may disagree. We are now actively stopping people speaking to those with whom they disagree in a bid to change their mind. Just the appearance in the same room as such people – even if we do not agree with them – is enough to brand you persona non grata.
Plenty of Christians are quick to tell you which party you ought to vote for and which are unacceptable for believers. Plenty of people in the world are quick to insist that you are not someone to associate with based on your political affiliations. Both speak to a fundamentalist tendency that cannot bear to engage with those who think differently to you. Both speak to a sense in which they cannot see beyond their own view of things to understand why others, who may even share some of your core convictions, don’t recognise how you can come to different conclusions.
As Christians, we need to recognise that we have not cornered the market on legitimate politics. Different people will have a different perspective on the best solution to the problems facing us. I may not agree with UKIP – there may be a host of policies they push that I find particularly problematic – but you won’t hear me saying that you can’t vote for them. I may seek to persuade you to do otherwise, and whilst the Bible may have things to say to certain policies, they are a legitimate political party whose ideas you are at liberty to buy into.