Ann Widdecombe’s huge bundle of straw

Ann Widdecombe explains it all to the New Statesman.

 Under the last government we saw a raft of law, principally equality law, which specifically set out to crush religious freedom and to crush freedom of conscience. There is an immense difference between being told that you must not discriminate against something and being told that you must promote it.

Like what, the NS asks. Poofters, of course. Poofter adoptions, poofters in your B&B. Half the population are non-believers, the NS says feebly; not a bit of it, says Widdecombe, most are Christians and what they say goes. No, really, the NS bleats; Widdecombe says not at all.

People may say they’re not religious, and when Richard Dawkins says he’s not religious he actually means it; so would Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry. But when people who are shrugging say they’re not religious, they mean they’re not attached to a particular church, they’re not practising at the moment. They may not necessarily mean that they discard the concept of God altogether.

Case closed! Three people really are not religious, but the others are all just shrugging, so we get to count them as believers. And yes, thank you, that does mean we get to force Christianity on everyone.

You can’t get away from the fact that our culture and our heritage is that way, and if we just deny it all and become nothing and everything we shall lose our character. That actually weakens a country: it can weaken a country very, very badly not to have a clearly defined character…So I think there are all manner of reasons for keeping the church at the centre of society, and the established Church in this country is Anglican.

So there. Take it or leave it, liberalism be damned.

And the pope was absolutely right to interfere with UK legislation.

The Vatican is a state, and we all have diplomatic relations with the Vatican. It’s not some isolated little cult somewhere, it represents 17.5 per cent of the world’s population. And that’s just the Catholics — there are all the other Christians on top of that.

It’s a state, god damn it! Plus it represents a lot of people. Plus there are all the Christians. Therefore, the pope is pretty much an honorary MP, and it’s just fine if he meddles with lawmaking in the UK.

And the child rape was only 2% of the priests, and teachers and plumbers and florists do it too.

And then there’s that pesky women question.

I left the Church of England because there was a huge bundle of straw. The ordination of women was the last straw, but it was only one of many. For years I had been disillusioned by the Church of England’s compromising on everything. The Catholic Church doesn’t care if something is unpopular. As far as the Catholic Church is concerned if it’s true it’s true, and if it’s false it’s false. The issue over women priests was not only that I think it’s theologically impossible to ordain women, it was the nature of the debate that was the damaging thing, because instead of the debate being “Is this theologically possible?” the debate was “If we don’t do this we won’t be acceptable to the outside world”. To me, that was an abdication of the Church’s role, which is to lead, not to follow.

There speaks the theocratic mind at its purest. It can’t even entertain the possibility that acceptability to what she calls the outside world, by which she means everybody who is not a priest, actually has something to do with morality and justice and equality, and that those are good things and priests should take them into account. No, to her that’s just whoring after popularity instead of buckling down and being dogmatic and authoritarian and keeping women Out.

This is not news, of course; it’s Ann Widdecombe, but it’s interesting…and it’s in the New Statesman. Make of that what you will.

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