07 September 2012
Is the Green Party intolerant of religion?
Statement from Dr Dave Landrum, director of advocacy:
As the Green Party gather for their annual party conference, the Evangelical Alliance is challenging them about whether they are inclusive or extremist, in light of being subject to disciplinary procedures and investigation by the party of their Brighton councillor, Christina Summers.
It is indicative of serious problems with the constitution of the party and shows a serious lack of thinking about what equality and diversity actually are. It also casts doubt on whether the party will be able to achieve their long-term goal of becoming a credible, mainstream influence in UK politics.
In July, Brighton & Hove City Council approved a motion promoting gay marriage. However, in line with her Christian conscience Councillor Summers voted and spoke - graciously and reasonably - against the motion. As the party considers her role and whether to expel her from the Green group of councillors for holding views that are simply in line with public opinion and consistent with the law as it presently stands, the Alliance calls on the party to prove that it is inclusive and capable of governing for all the people of the UK.
A failure to exonerate Councillor Summers will effectively disbar Christians, Muslims and other religious people from Green politics, consigning the party to a future as a representative vehicle for an extremist minority.
All the main political parties in the UK have Christian members, MPs, Peers and councillors who are opposed to the plans to redefine marriage. This valuing of diversity and the common commitment to democratic politics is a hallmark of our inclusive, plural society. If the Green Party wants to join this club and be taken seriously in British politics, it needs to present a far more mature view of equality and diversity. Otherwise, if it fails to support Councillor Summers, in order for voters to understand what they would be voting for, it will need to provide a very detailed, intellectually rigorous account of what it thinks equality actually is, and how freedom of conscience relates to it.
The party is at a crossroads, and the Alliance is calling on the new leader, Natalie Bennett, to address this issue as a matter of urgency.
Notes to Editors
The Evangelical Alliance
We are the largest and oldest body representing the UK’s two million evangelical Christians. For more than 165 years, we have been bringing Christians together and helping them listen to, and be heard by, the government, media and society. We’re here to connect people for a shared mission, whether it’s celebrating the Bible, making a difference in our communities or lobbying the government for a better society. From Skye to Southampton, from Coleraine to Cardiff, we work across 79 denominations, 3,500 churches, 750 organisations and thousands of individual members. And we're not just uniting Christians within the UK – we are a founding member of the World Evangelical Alliance, a global network of more than 600 million evangelical Christians. For more information, go to www.eauk.org.