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It seems an apposite day to talk about same-gender marriage. Here is my response to the Home Office consultation, closing in 2 days’ time (with thanks to the members of the Exec of LGBT+ Lib Dems, whose consultation response was excellent – thank you for some phrases and ideas!) 

Through being involved in activism with the bi community since 2007, and with Christian and political LGBT lobbying organisations since 2010, I personally know many LGBT people who would like to get married. We feel it is demeaning not to have the state recognise our relationships in the same way as those of our straight friends and family members. Civil partnerships were a step in the right direction but full and equal same-sex marriage should be available to show clearly that LGBT relationships are legitimate in the eyes of society.

The UK prides itself on being a fair society where discrimination is not tolerated and is fought against, and legal and societal penalties are applied to ensure this. This not less than any other area is one where the UK can lead by example to the rest of the world with a strong statement of support for its LGBT UK citizens.

 

Pension rights should be equally aligned regardless of gender, marriage or civil partnership.

International recognition: same-sex marriages in the UK should be recognised in those countries and jurisdictions which have or recognise same-sex marriages. Civil partnerships should also be recognised as such in other countries which have or recognise them (or their equivalents, such as civil unions). In addition we should recognise the civil partnerships and marriages from other countries as well.

Are you aware of any costs or benefits that exist to either the public or private sector, or individuals that we have not accounted for?

LGBT people would gain an increased sense of wellbeing and community acceptance. Community cohesion would be enhanced. Corresponding decrease in mental health problems would enable those LGBT people to contribute to the economy more productively. The knock on effects on friends, family, the NHS and social workers would also be positive.

The UK has already become a same-gender civil partnership destination, with corresponding economic benefits. This can only increase with marriage legislation.

Support for LGBT people of faith, a minority that in some cases faces increasing discrimination from its own community, could be demonstrated legally by enabling those of faith to have same-gender marriage in a religious setting that approves of their relationship.

Do you have any other comments on the proposals within this consultation?

Religious bodies should be allowed to perform same-sex marriages and civil partnerships. I am part of a sizeable minority in the Church of England who believe that LGBT relationships are not a problem for the Christian faith, and a religious ceremony would mean a great deal to us as believers. I applaud the emphasis on not forcing religious bodies to take part, but through my work with an LGBT campaigning organisation in the C of E, Changing Attitude, I’ve become aware that a majority of ordinary members would not be opposed to having same-sex marriage take place in C of E churches. The leadership may present a different view but this is not reflected in preliminary survey results (available on Changing Attitude Sussex website).

Civil partnerships should be opened up to opposite-sex couples – this would cover the case of same-sex couples in a civil partnership, where one partner went through a gender change and they become an opposite sex couple. I know many couples who would like or would have liked the option to have a civil partnership as they see it as a ‘neutral’ option for those who are not religious, are strongly feminist or anti-tradition.

 

My starting point today is the blog post No More Defending The Indefensible – Neil Crowther, on Disability Rights UK:

http://disabilityrightsuk.blogspot.com/2012/03/no-more-defending-indefensible.html

(Quotes from that post are in italics.)

My background in disability

Disability rights and welfare reform are two areas of concern due to personal experience. I have two long-term chronic and serious health conditions, and as a result have spent time on disability benefits.

With two conflicting principles, disabled people fall between two stools

Principle 1: support us towards independent equal participation

The animating principle of disability rights in the UK – and internationally – can be described as follows: people with impairments or health conditions are denied the opportunities and support to enjoy the rights and assume the responsibilities of citizenship. The object of public policy should therefore be remove barriers, provide support and create the opportunities which allow people with impairments or health conditions to take control of their own lives and to participate fully as equal citizens. This is the principle which has underpinned the gradual accumulation of disability equality law, the development of policy and programmes to support independent living and initiatives such as Access to Work in the UK. It is the principle on which the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which the UK ratified in 2009, is built. Of central importance is the recognition that for many disabled people equality and independence demands more than just an ‘open door’ – significant numbers require the financial and practical support to pass through it.

Principle 2: Disabled people are unable to live independently

The idea that ‘genuine disabled people’ are those who cannot be expected to look after themselves and are therefore incapable of independent living has a powerful grip on the public psyche and as a consequence undermines disabled people’s claims to self-determination, equality and inclusion.

A recent YouGov survey for Prospect magazine [Mar 2012] appears to confirm this: 69% agreed with the statement that “Our welfare system has created a culture of dependency. People should take more responsibility for their lives and families.” Some have taken heart at the Survey’s findings in relation to support for disabled people: whereas between 40-45 % of the public supported lowering taxes to cut support for unemployed people on benefits and for unmarried single parents, only 11% supported this measure in relation to supporting disabled people via Disability Living Allowance. But we should be very cautious about celebrating this. Does it reveal widespread public support for independent living, or – given the overall view expressed by the public – suggest that a great many of the 89% of the public who opposed cuts to disability benefits believe disabled people to be incapable of assuming responsibility for their own lives? I err towards the latter conclusion, and suggest it represents attitudes which the human rights campaigner Abina Parshad-Griffin once described beautifully as ‘malevolent benevolence’.

My experience of the welfare system was profoundly disabling: I lived in genuine fear of it. As someone who is able to walk and do simple tasks around the house, the questions asked of me with every repeated assessment (could I walk 50 yards on the flat? Could I dress myself? Could I do simple household tasks?) seemed designed to trip me, force me, shame me into declining help. I never contacted the Jobcentre except on the basic legal minimum occasions because I was convinced after a few awful experiences that the very sight of me out of a wheelchair and under 65 would trigger the advisor to reassess my case. It was the last place I would go for help. Every communication from the DWP – often incomprehensibly overwritten in ‘plain’ English – sent me into a panic. Especially after the occasion where due to clerical error (itself a fairly common occurance), my ability to pay my rent was substantially affected by an abrupt cut-off a week before Christmas.

The accidental good to come out of dealing with and fighting with the welfare system is that I have become a tough campaigner with a passionate interest in social justice. I could have got that experience in a far less traumatic (I use the term advisedly) way via volunteering. It didn’t have to be my rent, bills, credit rating and life on the line, but it was.

We don’t need ‘protection’ from work: we need appropriate support

Today disability campaigners celebrate having secured exemptions for people with terminal illness while Atos, which is contracted to conduct the Work Capability Assessment, is hounded for determining that some people with long-term health conditions are fit to work. Yet from a disability rights perspective we would label as discrimination either group being denied or sacked from a job by an employer on the basis that it considered that their impairment or health condition rendered them de facto unfit to work.

Disabled people are neither automatically fit or unfit to work. The problem with the terminology is that ‘disabled’ covers every possible permutation of bodily difference, affecting any organ, any chronic illness, any sensory impairment or inability, any mental health impairment or learning difference. The broadbrush approach means we are unable to find meaningful common ground. As someone with an ‘invisible’ disability (one affecting internal organs, that cannot be seen by a casual passer-by, unless I am having an acute episode of illness) I am being compared with those who are very obviously ‘disabled’ in terms of the ‘wheelchair’ symbol. (And using that symbol further disempowers those who don’t fit that category).

I was unfit to work due to the specific circumstances of my condition. My specific condition made it more likely that I would be unfit to work at some point in my life, than someone without it. These are the only two facts that are undisputable.

I was forced into an untenable position around work on the demands of the DWP, whose convoluted system stated that I could choose from the impossible list below:

- work fulltime or parttime (try renting in Brighton on parttime wages!)

- work less than 16 hours a week earning not more than £95 a week

- do permitted work for a year (take up a job, either paid or voluntary) and then stop it or stop benefits

- do no work except very part time volunteering.

My fluctuating condition makes it impossible to say how my health will be in 5 years. We can see some trends, we can try our best, but when it’s your flat and your little all at stake, it’s understandable that I was unwilling to try permitted work when that would likely lead to my losing benefits if it didn’t work out.

I was too restricted by my condition to take up physically active jobs such as retail, and too highly paid by my educational level to be able to land a job for less than £95 a week. (I tried, and got turned down again and again for having a degree.)

I got involved with volunteering, and when some of the personal factors were ameliorated over time I looked at other options. (I did some valuable training with the infamous A4e – more on that another time!)

I look back at the fear and depression that dominated my life at this time, and some of the blame for escalating must be laid at the door of those who debated these policies and carried them out, as well as a hostile and cruel media portrayal of disabled benefit claimants. For a period of a year in the midst of this I stood at bus stops with huge benefit fraud signs urging people to shop their neighbours. This was unlikely to improve either my mental health or the statistics.

How to reform the welfare system in two marginally easy steps

1: Flexible working for disabled people trying to achieve independence

The option missing from that list to rend the system workable would be to try working at the level one is capable of. With a disability this may not be full-time (otherwise why ask for financial help?). Do this in partnership with a sliding scale of financial support. This means that if I cannot get a parttime job in my field of expertise that enables me to earn enough to pay the average bills in my area, the DWP will make up the shortfall to enable me to pay the bills. Living with a disability means not living in a perfect world, one where it takes time to find an employer who doesn’t regard even explained absence with suspicion; where it simply takes time to find a suitable job near enough (disability can rob one of the option to travel great distances, because the body/mind won’t cooperate) or flexible enough in terms of timing. I’ve sometimes found it useful to use the childcare analogy in relation to my disability’s needs; dealing with my disability, like taking care of a child, works best with good organization and the acceptance of certain hard facts, rather than seeing it as a problem I could make go away if I try hard enough. (Of course, it puts one rather in the same position as a working parent, with the disadvantages of taking care of a child without the joys of having one for real.)

2: Mortgages for longterm independence

Time and again the question is asked ‘why is the taxpayer funding private landlords?’ Why is the DWP pouring money down the drain of endless rent payments? Think creatively: use that same money to fund mortgages instead of rents. Negotiate a long loan to cover the mortgage downpayment, and work with disabled people to enable them to take a huge decisive step towards independence: owning their own home.

The welfare state – and public discourse surrounding it – is so dominant in British life that its very design shapes public perceptions of its clients. As presently configured it is frequently the enemy, not the ally of independent living and of disability rights more generally. Its design does not promote the ‘capabilities and contributions of disabled people’ because for the welfare state – as with dominant ideas around dignity and freedom – accessing its support requires people to exhibit precisely the opposite characteristics. The terms of the debate about welfare reform make dependence a precondition of receiving support and define independence precisely as ‘doing everything for oneself’. As a consequence, people who require state support in the form of benefits and services have little choice but to avoid exhibiting individual agency or potential as doing so invites only suspicion, hostility and re-assessment. The welfare state offers compensation where it should promote capabilities. It invokes derision and suspicion where it should build confidence and foster more positive attitudes and expectations. And it is enormously wasteful, both of public money and people’s lives. Many disabled people face more red-tape in seeking the support to live an ordinary life than the average small business.

I have been on the receiving end of the suspicion and hostility exhibited by Jobcentre Plus/DWP employees (as well as some helpful experiences too). I have always said that the welfare system as it stands needs reform, because it has an all-or-nothing approach to health. Either one is healthy or one is sick. If one is sick, it’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, disabilities and abilities alike the same from one year end to the next. This model is profoundly anti-medical and betrays a simplistic healthy person’s understanding of the body and mind. It works for very few disease/disability models that I can think of. Sensory impairments and gross motor disabilities, perhaps (if they are static). What about fluctuating and deteriorating conditions? What about prognoses or illnesses that are uncertain? (Not forgetting that the NHS dislikes putting a number on mortality: the hums and hews are deafening around the question of how long one has got left.)

I am simultaneously dependent and independent (as I suspect most of us are). I can manage my condition and at present do a job. I cannot do some basic activities that most healthy people take for granted. I want as much dignified independence as possible. I acknowledge my need for support and am not shy about asking for it.

Until we have a system that can understand this for the 21st century, we must continue to campaign for it.

And, disabled people of every type, whether or not you use the label ‘disabled’ or prefer something else or nothing at all, we need your vision and experience.

It is tempting, in the light of the Welfare Reform Bill and wider reforms and spending decisions, to ‘batten down the hatches’ and adopt only the politics of opposition. This would be a mistake. History shows us that the greatest successes of the disability movement have come from innovation and vision, not reactive opposition. Away from the white heat of the Welfare Reform Bill wider debates are emerging about ‘21st Century Welfare’, about the relationship between citizen, State and society, about fairness and responsibility and about the sustainability of approaches to care and support in our ageing society. Disabled people have a leading role to play in these debates. As Jenny Morris recently concluded: “it’s no good continuing to fight our battles within the context of the intellectual and political space which the disability movement has very effectively carved out over the last 20-30 years. Instead we have to carry those concepts and ideas into the wider arena of not only social policy but also economic policy”

Disabled people should be advancing new models of welfare and public service reforms, not confining themselves to defending existing models. And these new models will require a far deeper and more far reaching reform, not only of the services and benefits themselves, but of the assumptions and principles underpinning them if we are ever to come close to achieving the goals of the UNCRPD. It will require nothing less than a fundamental shift from a social welfare state to what we might term a ‘social development state’, which invests in and helps develop and maintain individual freedoms and capabilities and through doing so encourages and supports contribution and reciprocity.

What might the next new spaces for social development might look like?

What I know is: people want to live and work in the same world as everyone else. I struggle up the steps at Crystal Palace train station because it’s not step-free yet after years of waiting and promises: why should I be barred from using the same transport system as others?

My recommendations:

Around disability legislation:

Work towards developing a more nuanced identification of ‘disabled’; consider altering the disabled symbol

Around life choices:

A fundamental reassessment of disabled people as citizens with autonomy.

We have a future: Mortgages, not only the rent trap

We form relationships: stop the scandal of discouraging the formation of households by financial sanctions. When the disabled person on benefits moves to share a house with their partner/spouse, at present they presently lose all means-tested benefits. This is regardless of what the partner earns (unless under 12k), regardless the cost of living, or whether finances are in fact shared – it is presumed that they are.

Disabled people have caring responsibilities: Look at supporting disabled people’s specific needs around childcare and care of others, whether distance or finance related.

Around work:

Look at incentivizing employers to take on disabled employees in the same way as young people.

Disabled people can face a multiplicity of complex factors that act as an invisible web stopping them accessing jobs, not least the exhaustion and sadness that living differently and dealing with disability can place on your shoulders. Specific support for disabled job seekers that looks at helping them solving their issues and seek work – perhaps delivered over a period of time in a proactive setting like the NHS’s model Expert Patient course.

Let’s get this blog started! Here’s my response to the Feb 2012 Clearing The Ground report, from the APPG Christians in Parliament. How is Christianity expressed in wider society? Why does it matter, for Christians, for those of belief and for those in public life? Chances are, you will come across a Christian group to deal with, whether you share their interpretation of faith or not. This report offers some issues of current debate beyond that level of respect (and respectful disagreement) that may only serve to sweep problems under the carpet.

Why read the report?

‘Ranging in their intensity and complexity, the problems can all be seen to contribute to a gentle squeezing of religious belief, and in this case specifically Christianity, from public life.’

This is a generally fair-minded report on the marginalization (rather than discrimination or persecution) of Christians in UK society. There are some worthwhile points to open up debate and dialogue, such as ‘religious belief is often only considered for the challenges it might pose rather than the benefits it can bring.’

Sexuality and the right to opt out of service: a crucial debate

As I expected, in the area of sexuality the report acts as an apology for the Evangelical Alliance and the most traditional wings of other denominations.

‘The legal and cultural conflicts that the hierarchy of rights creates can also perpetuate the idea that Christians are obsessed with sex. Christians have historically received a clear biblical model for sexual relations with vital spiritual dynamics that reflect Christ and the Church. As contemporary ideas have adapted to express other sexual ethics, the consistency of the Christian view has presented a problem for legislators. Although sexuality is widely acknowledged in society to be intrinsic to identity, religion is not, and our legal categories have come to reflect this contradiction. The reality is that sexuality is more fluid and religious commitment less fluid than the law assumes.’

Sexuality is fluid? – we choose it? Not from most people’s experience. As for Christians being obsessed with sex, this report would give some support for that view, quoting case after case of ‘Christian X doesn’t agree with having to interact with or serve LGBT people, and wants to reserve the right to tell them they are abhorrent to God’, quoting the Bible for back up. And this is called ‘orthodox Christian belief’ many times to give it legitimacy!

A poor argument, which comes down to ‘allow us to hate’. Jesus served and befriended sex workers, and the traditionalists pointed fingers then. Even if you believe that a loving relationship between two people is wrong, how about following Jesus’ example and serving them as human beings?

A framework for conversion therapy doesn’t make it more sane

This struck me as extremely dangerous:

‘While it may be controversial to help people who decide that their same-sex attraction is not what they would prefer, this shouldn’t be prohibited where it is mutually agreed and especially if within a belief framework to which both parties subscribe.’

Many cults offer a belief framework in the same way. Should it be permissible to allow people to propagate harmful beliefs and practices among vulnerable and deeply unhappy people (ie. LGBT/LGBT questioning people who are uncomfortable with their sexuality)? Beliefs that have been utterly discredited by the very groups that profess them as well as medical authorities? Let’s not forget it’s the NHS that often picks up the pieces of misguided ‘Christian’ teaching on this topic: ask anyone who’s been through the mill of self-hatred supported by so-called orthodoxy. It can take years of counselling to approach self-acceptance after this abusive behaviour.

I’m not sure that I want those specific changes recommended by the report, which may end up promoting more incidents of hate speech (which the report argues should be removed from the legal process). Legal proceedings may well be overkill in many cases, a waste of public money and a further hardening of individual Christians’ beliefs that society is weighed against them in an orgy of political correctness (eg. vilifying mutually-consented-to prayer in the workplace). But I don’t think LGBT people need any more people telling/ yelling that they are ‘fundamentally disordered’ for example.

The rest of the recommendations are a mixed bag. Some unlikely, some unworkable and some sensible.

Reasonable accommodation to cover unreasonable prejudice

A proposal for a ‘conscientious objection’ type law, using a similar framework as reasonable accommodation for disabled people, sounds plausible but pretty unworkable – and I don’t think I’d want it to be. ‘I am disabled in my compassion and ability to serve, so let me off this part of my job’ comes across as both antisocial and anti-Christian.

‘We recognise that there are two important distinctions between how reasonable accommodation is currently used in relation to disability issues and the form it has been proposed for religious belief. First, most of the accommodation required in the current usage is functional, meaning that buildings need to be adapted, or work practices changed. If reasonable accommodation was used in relation to religion, the meaning of such accommodation would be harder to assess because it is likely that the impact may be more subjective and difficult to quantify. [...]

The second challenge is that, in many of these cases, the accommodation would need to work both ways – with the employer and employee genuinely seeking to accommodate each other. [...]So while an employer might need to show that reasonable steps had been taken to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs, acknowledging that certain activities might condone behaviour contrary to their beliefs, it might also be necessary for the employee to show they were willing to accommodate the values of those who disagreed with them.’

We could see how that worked out in practice…would Christians be happy to accommodate others’ values if they felt their own were being properly respected? I hope so.

Local authorities working with faith groups

‘We acknowledge that the former secretary of state for local government and communities, Rt Hon John Denham MP, issued a set of myth-busting guidance for local authorities on how they can work with faith groups. This was a helpful innovation. Yet, the persistence of cases where Christian organisations are marginalised or excluded because of the manifestation of beliefs indicates that this guidance is either being ignored or needs further development. There is also a role for Local Government Improvement and Development (formerly the IDeA) in encouraging the sharing of best practice across different authorities. Martyn Eden gave evidence to the committee on behalf of Premier Media Group. He said: “Local authorities will not work with Christian groups and churches. My own church wanted to put money and people into a youth centre, the local authority said ‘no, we can’t mix public money and church money in any way, shape or form’.”

I’ve seen this myself at council level, organisations doing groundbreaking community work with homeless/elderly/young people not getting funds they otherwise would. However, I’ve also seen the mirror image of religious prejudice, such as Brighton’s evangelical Church of Christ the King (CCK) refusing to hire out their spaces to an LGBT group.

Everyone likes joined-up thinking

‘We recommend that steps are taken to coordinate all relevant policy areas across government. This could take the form of a dedicated unit within the Cabinet Office, or a clearly stated key responsibility for the minister for the Cabinet Office. Such a move would help overcome the complex and confusing arrangements that currently span numerous departments and policy areas.’

Recommendations for Christians: rationality encouraged

An example of the well-thought through aspects of the report are recommendations to Christians to think carefully about our actions:

‘It is a Christian responsibility to proclaim the gospel, challenge injustice and to speak out for those without a voice. In a context of competing claims for power, it is critically important that Christians respond rather than react to the challenges they face. Chapter 1 showed how, by sometimes adopting an aggressive and amateur approach Christian campaigning can be complicit in exacerbating the problems that they set out to oppose.’

Court cases and media spin

‘We strongly suggest that the groups who bring these cases to court and into the public’s attention need to first reflect upon the impact that their actions might have upon politics, public opinion, other Christian public policy groups, and Christian confidence. Closer consultation with a broad range of parliamentarians, representative organisations and think-tanks, and more cooperation between public policy groups should be priorities for Christian campaigning.

Despite this report showing that there are legal and cultural problems which represent discrimination against Christians in the UK, the negative forms of Christian public engagement perpetuate an idea of Christians being pushed out of public life that is not supported by the evidence of this report.

It concerns us that those organisations most associated with the legal cases rely on the publicity that legal cases generate to raise funds from their supporters. In evidence submitted to the committee the financial cost of bringing cases and a customary reluctance of many to enter into legal proceedings was reiterated. However, it is doubtful whether some campaign organisations would remain financially viable if all the cases they were involved with were settled through informal and unpublicised mediation and accommodation. […] The erroneous communication of the full facts pertaining to legal cases and judgments is particularly concerning. Although the presentation of information in a campaign will always be part of an overall strategy, in a media context of intensive and cynical scrutiny, any embellishing or exaggerating of the facts can quickly bring Christianity into disrepute.’

Reality check – little victimisation, lots of fear

‘In addition to their written submission, Premier Media Group (PMG) published a report for the inquiry on the marginalisation of Christianity in the UK. This report refers to PMG’s own consultation, Freedom of the Cross, where, although 12 per cent of respondents had experienced victimisation for their beliefs, 63 per cent had “observed marginalisation in British public life”.

This exposes a gap between perception and reality. It also identifies a process whereby, by encouraging the public to think the situation is worse than it really is, a Christian withdrawal from public life can be affected through disillusionment and misinformation.’

That process exacerbates an attitude among Christians which appears in both the traditionally apathetic younger generation and the older generation likelier to vote: church and politics don’t mix, and it’s more ‘Christian’ to choose one over the other. It’s very frustrating when people refuse to use their God-given voice to speak up and work against injustice (a constant refrain of the Bible!) because they believe politics is too grubby and can lead one into corruption and untruth. But there is a positive vision held out by the report:

‘Too often the Church can be defined by what it opposes, instead of what it proposes. It is essential that Christians articulate a vision for society that goes beyond defending their own interests and is seen to be for the good of all.’

Blow, trumpet, blow

A theme familiar to Lib Dems cropped up, namely speaking up about our achievements.

“The Catholic Church has been doing some work on how its entire social action network is organised, and when we start to analyse the amount of money involved, the number of people involved, the frequency with which activities took place, you start adding up all the care homes, all the schools, all the religious orders, all the members of the St Vincent de Paul society who only exist locally, but they go out in every parish visiting the old and the sick, and needy every week. You have a vast undercurrent of active Christian function living out their faith in this country which is so prevalent but no-one actually notices it.”

Richard Kornicki, Catholic Bishops’ Conference

(I left this quote in despite this weekend’s shocking behaviour in respect to LGBT rights of the Catholic Church – which is not the whole picture, of course.)

‘It is perhaps understandable that Christians are sometimes reluctant to publicise their activities, achievements and social contributions. This is probably related to scriptural injunctions for humility and to not boast about good deeds. However, if freedoms for Christians are to be preserved and the socio-political role of the faith is to be properly valued, it is important that Christians increase their voice and volume about what they contribute to society.’

Cameron weighs in on faith

Some members of the APPG are obviously thrilled at David Cameron’s speech on the importance of faiths to set the tone for a more moral society. As a Lib Dem I’m less thrilled about anything Cameron says in any case. He simply says ‘that faith can play [a role] in helping people to have a moral code…’

It can. But for many, they aren’t interested and won’t seek this out. The best we can hope for is somewhere along the scale tending towards tolerance and mutual respect rather than hatred (not forgetting that some people journey towards an embrace of active faith).

Truly respectful of different beliefs

Despite the fact that ‘The Clearing the Ground committee of inquiry was administered and sponsored by the Evangelical Alliance for Christians in Parliament’ with all the anti-LGBT bias one would expect, I will be looking out with interest for and writing on future reports. Among the recommendations for Christians is included: ‘Being distinctively Christian, they must work for the good of society, and towards a society that is truly respectful of different beliefs. Christians should encourage a confident pluralism that acknowledges disagreement and is not a cover for enforcing sameness under a cloak of diversity.’

I look forward to seeing this worked out in a spirit of bold openness and experimentation, which may well draw the ire of the Evangelical Alliance itself!

…a new political blog by Lib Dem activist Rebecca C Taylor. Attempting a balanced and thoughtful look as a Lib Dem activist on political issues as they arise.

Occasionally I want to comment more fully on political issues than via Twitter (@rcttaylor) or Facebook (rebecca.c.taylor.rct). I only blog when I have something to say and have had time enough to research a bit, hence the ‘light not heat’ tag: the political internet is a torrent of not very well informed opinion, and there are some issues so complex it’s hard to feel one’s got an adequate grasp in order to blog.

I’ve fought shy of starting a political blog for fear of stated opinions coming back to bite me, but life’s too short.

If you want some light relief or are looking for my other blog on being a newbie in London, go to my London blog.

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