Monday, October 25, 2010

TAM London speaker 7: Paula Kirby

Paula is a writer and project manager.  She’s a former Christian who first appeared on the RDF forum asking good and genuine questions about atheism and faith.  After a while, she started to make insightful comments and obviously got Richard’s attention because they’ve done some stuff since: interviews, videos, articles and so on.

Paula’s talk was mostly about the racist, authoritarian, homophobic, anti-science batshit insane policies of The Christian Party.  It will probably come as little surprise that they want to reintroduce beating children as a legitimate form of learning in schools; they want to teach creationism; and they want schools to be allowed to discriminate against non-Christians in their hiring policy.  Oddly, they also want to raise the speed limit to 90mph.  No prizes for guessing what demographic they’re trying to attract with that.  Oh, and they want to ban sex education in primary schools and make them opt-in (note, it’s the parents who get to opt in, not the children) in secondary schools.  Oh, and that sex education will be strongly biased toward abstinence only.  And they want to teach that homosexual relationships are not valid family relationships.

Immigrants won’t have access to the NHS, if they’re even allowed in to begin with.  If at all possible, they’ll be frogmarched out of the country anyway.  Naturally, they’d withdraw from the EU.

They are anti-abortion to the extent of wanting to remove government funding from any organisation ‘promoting’ it (who promotes abortion, anyway?)  They are pro-war in general, but against the war in Afghanistan.  Perhaps I should rephrase that.  They are pro-war but against BRITISH troops being stationed in Afghanistan where they might, after all, get killed. 

All tax should be set – entirely arbitrarily – at 20%: VAT, income tax, capital gains tax, the lot.  Me, I’d prefer to set tax rates at what they needed to be to pay for stuff rather than pulling a figure out of my arse and declaring that all tax shall henceforth be thus charged, but perhaps that’s why I’m not a politician.

But in case you think these points are unsophisticated, the full manifesto – as Paula pointed out – is far more nuanced.  For example, while the headline points say that carbon dioxide levels should probably go down, the full manifesto reveals a concrete plan so we can achieve it.  All we have to do is respect the Sabbath and the energy saved will be enough to save the planet.  And if that doesn’t work, they might plant some trees or something.

Paula’s talk was lighthearted but dealt with some serious issues.  The Christian Party got effectively zero votes in the last election and isn’t likely to do any better next time, but its existence suggests that as atheism grows, fundamentalism switches gear to keep pace.  We have politicians in the UK who want us all to submit to a Christian theocracy. Who want to marginalise if not criminalise homosexuals, foreigners and people who want abortions.  Who want to teach children scandalously dangerous or just plain wrong things and to beat them if they don’t want to.

I don’t think there’s any need to panic just yet, but this is on the horizon and something we need to worry about.  Kudos to Paula for reading through that whole manifesto and taking the piss out of it so the rest of us don’t have to.

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