Nadine Dorries seems to be caught between her Tory and Christian ideals

The Christian MP is happy for the Church to preach on some matters, but not on those that could implicate her party

 

The Church of England has today published a ‘pastoral letter’ providing guidance for Christians ahead of the General Election. At 52 pages long, the letter is the first of its kind to be issued by the Church. It does not promote one particular party, instead asking Christians to consider how they might build a good society:

“It is the duty of every Christian adult to vote, even though it may have to be a vote for something less than a vision that inspires us”.

This morning, Tory MP and outspoken Christian Nadine Dorries appeared on Radio 4 criticising the letter, telling the Today show that:

“I would much rather the church stuck to becoming involved in issues where people are really seeking the church’s voice, such as gender abortion, late term abortion, issues to do with the human tissue and embryology bill.”

In a strong field, this is one of the silliest things Dorries has ever said. What a messed up state of affairs it is if the Church is allowed to tell women what to do with their own bodies, is allowed to invade and preach in the private rooms of couples, but is not allowed to encourage people to take part in society.

To me, the only defence that can be made of the presence of religion in peoples’ lives is that it can sometimes encourage people to think beyond themselves, that it may make people think more carefully about the ethics of the choices they make. Otherwise, what is it for?

Well, for Dorries, it seems to be there to intervene on sexual matters. In 2012 she said that gay marriage transforms gay people ‘into political agitators who have set themselves against the church and community’.

Why is the church allowed to tell people in what way they may love another person, but not allowed to encourage them to vote?

Perhaps Dorries found herself stuck between her Tory credentials and her Christian ones. After all, the letter is critical of inequality:

“Where the state or the market, or any other powers, claim too much and stifle human flourishing, people are divided from one another and God’s sovereignty is mocked.”

Austerity:

“It has been widely observed that the greatest burdens of austerity have not been born by those with the broadest shoulders – that is, those who enjoy a wide buffer zone before they fall into real need. Those whose margin of material security was always narrow have not been adequately protected from the impact of recession”

Class prejudice:

“When those who rely on social security payments are all described in terms that imply they are undeserving, dependent, and ought to be self-sufficient, it deters others from offering the informal, neighbourly support which could ease some of the burden of welfare on the state.”

And in-work poverty:

“We have seen the burgeoning of in-work poverty – people who, despite working hard, cannot earn enough to live decently.”

Religious belief surely either functions as a personal, spiritual support which brings peace and guidance in a purely private way, or as a social driver which tells people how to live.

Dorries, someone who tries to promote the idea that the Church is a good thing, is encouraging it to behave as its worst possible self: socially apathetic, remote and pompous, but with a prurient interest in people’s sex lives.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter

10 Responses to “Nadine Dorries seems to be caught between her Tory and Christian ideals”

  1. Keith Mason

    Maybe I misunderstood the article but the paragraph..

    ‘Religious belief surely either functions as a personal, spiritual support which brings peace and guidance in a purely private way, or as a social driver which tells people how to live.’

    Betrays a pretty blinkered view of Christianity in the generic language of ‘religion’ as a purely private phenomenon. Which in reality as a social force has had a hand in the foundations of social welfare, the abolition of slavery, the development of the sciences, the first notions of social tolerance and the universal vote to name a few in this country alone.

    Nadine Dorris is caught up in trying to leverage Christian voters into a system of identity politics. Something the document the CofE explicitly is working against in this country, however this article even from the outset seems to be playing the same game from the opposite side of the fence by implying that Nadine’s inherently Conservative outlook isn’t Christian. But the article doesn’t ask is any of the political parties outlook inherently Christian?

    The reality is that Christians might find themselves caught between the platforms of multiple parties which is why the document outlines..

    “It is the duty of every Christian adult to vote, even though it may have to be a vote for something less than a vision that inspires us”.

    Christians might vote Conservative by their convictions but that doesn’t mean they by default agree with everything the Conservatives stand for. They might vote Labour or Green but that doesn’t mean they then by default agree with all the policies those parties stand for. The point is that they’re turning up to vote and act according to their convictions even if their convictions might mean endorsing ‘something less than a vision that inspires us’. Both Nadine and Ruby in this article however ring out as decidedly partisan in their aspirations for Christians by asking their faith to play second fiddle to a political ideology whereas the emphasis should be whatever Christians vote on that we our united primarily in our faith which no doubt transcends a whole spectrum of party lines.

  2. Leon Wolfeson

    The Church(s) need to grow a pair and say that if people don’t espouse their basic values, they are not welcome.

  3. JoeDM

    Religion + Politics = Social Poison

  4. Frann Leach

    I think if you read it again, you’ll find that he’s contrasting what Nadine wants (“a personal, spiritual support which brings peace and guidance in a purely private way”) with what genuine religion is: “a social driver which tells people how to live”. Religion that’s just for your private life isn’t genuine religion, as the very roots of the word demonstrate, true religion is “conduct indicating belief”, and any vicar worth his salt will tell you that private religion, Sundays-only religion, is no religion at all.

  5. Jaystar

    Churches should be “allowed” as you put it to say whatever they like. Dorries is not being unreasonable (nor atypical) in wishing the CofE clergy would stop suggesting that one set of political prescriptions are more moral than another. Religion should make us want to reduce poverty (or make it history) but it has no business trying to tell us a dirigiste approach is more godly than a free market one.

  6. Guest

    Except, of course, your religion. No, that’s just fine.

  7. Guest

    How dare the Church act at least somewhat according to it’s principles, and point out that certain political policies fit better than others.

    You are arguing the opposite – that religion should remain silent on poverty. As you fight so frantically for the primary of capitalism over the free market – and hence you support poverty and simply have an issue with people questioning your ideology.

  8. Solony

    Kick out the theocrat!

  9. Keith M

    This woman’s views can be discounted – she’s obviously trying to worm her way back in.

  10. Andy Gray

    Anybody who believes themself to be a Christian and have Tory values seriously needs to see a psychiatrist. As any teachings in the bible would never have Tory values. If Jesus Christ was a man walking the streets of Britain he’d be sickened by the inequalities that exist & would never have Tory values. Anyone who believes otherwise is insane or/and deluded.

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