A Frightening Prospect

I have just had the pleasure of watching Dispatches, on Channel 4. The programme, "In God's Name", explored the growth and increasing influence of Christian fundamentalists in this country. Taking the word of the Bible literally, their clear aim is to convert the rest of society to their version of Christianity and intolerance ("homosexuality and abortion are issues leading this nation to hell"). Extremely scary stuff, and I had to keep reminding myself that this was Britain in 2008, not the US Bible-belt, and not 16th-century England.

These people are real nutjobs, but they need to be taken seriously, as they already wield considerable power, and they are seeking even greater power. One of the characters we followed is a member of the Carmel Christian Centre in Bristol, which sponsors a Government-endorsed faith school, where we saw a 'science' test which included such questions as "how many days did it take God to make the world?", and where the headmaster clearly did not believe that the Earth was more than a few thousand years old.

Scarier still, though, was former practising barrister Andrea Williams, who is the Public Policy Director of The Lawyers' Christian Fellowship, and who has gained access to the corridors of power, including Lord Tebbit, who she tried to persuade to table an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, and Conservative MP Nadine Dorries. Angela also believes that the Earth is only a few thousand years old (although when questioned about this she became lost for words, and asked for the camera to be turned off), and says that evidence always comes out in favour of a Biblical interpretation of life - a strange position for a barrister.

As the programme concluded, these fundamentalists are growing in number (estimated at 2 million in this country) and influence, and are determined to impose their views upon the rest of society. A frightening prospect.
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I've since remembered a couple of amusing episodes from the programme. Firstly, one character stuck the word 'Jesus' on the ceiling above his bed, to 'remind him'. I can just imagine him waking up and thinking: "What's that guys name again? Ah yes - Jesus!" The other episode was when Ms Williams was organising demonstrators outside Parliament, and desperately trying to silence the complete head cases (despite the fact that she agreed with what they were saying), in an attempt to show the world that the protesters were really reasonable people.


  1. I won't find time for the U-tube videos, so I can't comment on the specifics (although I suspect that many of the accusations you level against the Christians involved may also be levelled against me).

    But I am worried by what seems to be an undemocratic turn of phrase that you use: "these fundamentalists ... are determined to impose their views upon the rest of society". Phrased like that it sounds dreadful (as if the Spanish inquisition were back in business), but this wording seems to me to be less than objective.

    So what crime has the person you write about committed? The reprehensible act that you mention is lobbying a politician. No more and no less. Coupled with the abomination of being a commmitted Christian and holding opinions which you dislike.

    In this debate I think it is worth pointing out that tolerance, if it is to have any meaning, needs to work both ways.

    Greetings from another nutjob.

  2. The quote was taken from the programme. If you hold particular religious views, or if, for example, you hold homophobic views then that is your right - but please do not seek to impose those views upon the rest of society.

  3. Hi John,
    I have never yet tried to impose my Christian opinions on the rest of society. Sure, I have tried to persuade people to try them out, and I will continue to do so. But I have never tried to do this by coercion, and I never will.

    The quote in your posting does not smell of coercion either. Sounds to me more like an exaggeration (sweeping generalisations about the nation), and I would certainly wish to state my own position in a more humble and loving manner, but even the person you quote does not seem to be imposing any particular actions on society (or has he/she organised hit gangs to break up homosexual partnerships?).

  4. I'm glad to hear that you won't try to force your views upon others. However, this was not the situation in the programme, where the fundamentalists were indoctrinating children and seeking to use Government to impose their views on the rest of us.


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