Does the Green Party welcome Christians?

Posted on December 2, 2014 at 10:53 am,

One of the things about this blog is that, every so often, I get contacted by a Christian who is considering joining the Green Party. Usually, they ask me one of two things. Firstly, whether the party has an equivalent of Christians on the Left in Labour, the Liberal Democrat Christian Forum, or the Conservative Christian Fellowship. Secondly, they want to know about my experiences in the party, and whether it welcomes Christians. As my e-mail reply to the last person who asked never got delivered, I thought I’d post about these issues here.

The answer to the first question is simple. At the moment there isn’t a Christian group within the party. I have thought about starting one, but don’t really have the capacity.

The answer to the second question has a bit more to it. A lot of the people who ask it have heard about the incident where a Green Party councillor called Christina Summers was removed from the Green group in Brighton and Hove because she spoke and voted against same-sex marriage because of her Christian faith. There was a lot more to the story than appeared in headlines, but I’m not going to go into it in this post.

My personal experience in the party has been good. I am not shy about my Christianity, and I have never had a problem with another member of the party over my faith. Whilst there are a handful of Dawkins-style “new atheists” in the party, that is true of all the mainstream UK parties, and I have never come across anybody like that in person.

Most party members who would describe themselves as Christians are theologically liberal, though I know at least half a dozen party members who are Evangelical Christians. They include a Green Party councillor (not Christina Summers) and a church leader. None of them have ever mentioned having problems within the party because of their faith.

So, basically, the party does welcome Christian members who broadly agree with what the party stands for (if you’re left-wing and think that environmental issues are important, that’s probably you). However, there are some issues (basically sexuality and life issues) where Christians are reasonably likely to have views that could cause conflict with the party. Generally speaking, other party members will not have a problem with you holding these views as long as you are careful about how you express them. Also, if you are ever in a position where you are speaking for the party (e.g. as a councillor), you will have to exercise a bit more care to ensure that nobody could mistake your view for the party’s view.

Life issues

The party is pro-choice on abortion and in favour of euthanasia. There is a strong feminist current within the party, and a tendency to say that these issues are ones of individual responsibility. I’ve never had a problem explaining that I view the unborn child as a human being in his/her own right, or that I am extremely uncomfortable with the idea of euthanasia. As long as you are sensitive in the way that you convey pro-life views and don’t give people the impression that your views are party policy, no party member is going to have a problem with you. However, doing something considered incredibly insensitive – like joining a protest right outside an abortion clinic will cause problems.

Sexuality

The party has had a strong LGBTQI* group for a long time, and party policy has had a strong gay rights policy for just as long. This is, of course, at odds with a traditional Christian view of sexual morality, the nature of marriage, and – to some extent – at odds with faith groups expecting their leaders, employees, or members to uphold these morals. There are a lot of people within the party who think that Christians holding the traditional view that gay sex is a sin are necessarily homophobic, and that any opposition to same-sex marriage is incompatible with the concept of equality. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t express those views, but you just have to be very careful how you do it (more so than with life issues). In particular you need to be sensitive to the way LGBTQI people feel about these issues, and be aware of the hurt many of them have experienced at the hands of Christians bringing condemnation, rather than love. You also need to be aware that the difference between the view of most party members and the traditional Christian view has its roots in some pretty fundamental bits of worldview – the two views depend on very different understandings of identity, sexuality, love, and equality. Which means that many party members won’t understand how any thinking person could believe that gay sex is a sin, or that marriage should be restricted to opposite-sex couples.

*LGBTQI stands for “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer, Intersex” – which is the current initialism of said group within the party.

5 Comments

  1. Posted December 26, 2014 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your post. I was wondering if you could be a member of a political party who were pro-choice about infanticide or whether that would be enough in itself to not make this an option?

    How do you reconcile their policy to make access to ab (HE339) abortion easier by removing the need to see a physician and making provisions for suitably trained nurses and midwives perform abortions?

  2. Lorenzo Fernandez-Vicente
    Posted January 25, 2015 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    So why is it a sin? Scripture never says. There is no way the so-called traditional view can be articulated in a friendly way. It simply assumes that what your desire towards the opposite sex (I assume) is holy and able, in time, to constitute a sacrament, an image of God’s love for his church, whereas my desire is towards something that is necessarily sinful and must never be acted on, bit like a scab one should not pick. There is no way to make this palatable.

  3. Stephen Gray
    Posted January 31, 2015 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    Sorry for taking ages to come back on these two comments.

    @failedatheist, I can’t see any reasonable prospect of a mainstream UK party becoming pro-infanticide, so that’s a very hypothetical question. And I’m obviously not in favour of the first part of that policy. However, I don’t see how the second part is going to affect the abortion rate, unless there’s a severe shortage of doctors trained and willing to perform abortions. Of course, if I waited until I agreed with every aspect of a party’s policy before I joined, I’d have to be a member of a single-issue party, or a party I founded myself.

    @Lorenzo, I would suggest you go and check out peter-ould.net. It’s a blog (currently archived, rather than active) by a Christian who describes himself as “post-gay”, and has thought and written a lot about the issue of sexuality from the traditional view. He does articulate his view in a friendly way, although it is obviously still unpalatable to many of those who subscribe to the assumptions underlying the gay rights worldview.

    Also, your description of the traditional view is very much not how most of those holding it would put it across. The most important thing you’re missing is that all Christians would believe there are some desires which are holy, and should be encouraged as things that, in time, present an image of some aspect of God’s nature, and other desires that are necessarily sinful and should never be acted on. If you find that way of thinking unpalatable, then you’re going to have a problem with Christianity regardless of what Christians think about sexuality.

    If all you find unpalatable is that many Christians put same-sex attraction in the second category, then there’s plenty of room for discussion, and I’m fairly confident that the traditional view could be put across to you in a way that you would not find offensive.

  4. Pete
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    So thats the greens never to be voted for again. Being Christian means we are Christian in everything and that includes who we vote for, or not.

    Pro choice means its acceptable to slaughter millions of babies around the world each year. Babies who get no rights and no choice. Its not about choice its a life!

    Homosexuality is a sin and the act is a vile abomination carried out by a fraction of deviants around the world who get far more news time then they should. Nothing homophobic about it, its fact. Just because we hate deviant acts like sodomy doesnt mean we hate the person, who clearly needs help. Love the sinner not the sin.

    So lets just be clear about this instead of tiptoeing around what are very serious issues destroying family values in a sick society.

    Being Christian is about standing up for the truth and not pandering to deviant sick society. The very time we should be standing up for good.

  5. Stephen Gray
    Posted May 3, 2015 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Hi Pete,

    By that logic, you’re left with almost no options to vote for. Unless you live in the twenty-six constituencies where there is a Christian Party or Christian People’s Alliance candidate, you will have a choice that is entirely between parties that are pro-choice AND accepting of homosexuality.

    And those parties have parties that are also problematic for Christians. For example, both parties suggest that we should tighten the immigration system – which is in direct conflict with the dozens of Bible passages which tell us to welcome the alien/foreigner. Neither party makes a big thing of helping the poorest and most vulnerable groups in our society on their party websites (which, again, goes directly against a massive chunk of the Bible).

    You are never going to find a political party that has an entirely Christian set of policies. So unless you are planning to spoil your ballot paper in protest, then you’re going to have to pick a party that is at odds with Christianity on some issues and inline on others. My view is that the Greens are most in line with what I see in Scripture on the issues where there is a realistic chance of change in our society. You think that two issues where there is no chance of political change should be red lines. That doesn’t make me any less Christian than you, we merely disagree about how to work that out when we engage with politics.

    God Bless,

    Stephen

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