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Conservative candidate believes homosexuality can be cured
May 2, 2010 7:14 AM   Subscribe

Potential Conservative MP Philippa Stroud founded an evangelical church that tried to 'cure' homosexuals by driving out their 'demons'. Stroud is head of the Conservative thinktank The Centre for Social Justice, lauded as the most influential thinktank in Britain who have heavily influenced David Cameron's views and policies on the family.

Stroud is likely to take the Sutton and Cheam seat in Greater London after the election on Thursday. The Conservatives have tried to win over gay voters after a string of controversial comments by party members. The Conservative shadow home secretary, Chris Grayling, said owners of B&B accommodation should have the right to turn away gay couples. Labour argue that this would violate the law. Julian Lewis, the shadow defence minister, said he was against lowering the age of consent from 18 to 16 for homosexuals.
posted by ellieBOA (49 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
If we end up with the Tories I expect this kind of bullshit to get a lot worse. I am not a particularly big fan of Labour but behind the airbrushed Cameron veneer there a lot of nasty, brutish bigots.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 7:28 AM on May 2, 2010 [7 favorites]


*are* a lot of nasty, brutish bigots.

It is scary how far up the party these people go too. Every party has thickos at some level but these are highly influential people that could end up running the country.

One of the few good things about British politics is it's relative secularism and I would hate to see weirdo churchy types dictating public policy.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 7:36 AM on May 2, 2010


There never seems, to me, to be a lot of "thinking" going on in conservative/right-wing "think tanks", just a lot of knee-jerk reacting and the expression of hateful, narrow-minded, bigoted beliefs that have never been subjected to a moment's critical examination.
posted by kcds at 7:41 AM on May 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


ClanvidHorse: “I am not a particularly big fan of Labour but behind the airbrushed Cameron veneer there a lot of nasty, brutish bigots.”

Indeed. And Cameron himself is more than a bit nasty and brutish. Watching the last debates the other night, it was galling to see him happily take up the immigration angle against Brown, talking about 'the people of England who are worried about immigration and want to know why Labour hasn't done anything about it,' in light of the 'bigot' gaffe. It may have seemed subtle, but it was a siren song to all the bigots who live their lives according to Daily Mail headlines: VOTE CONSERVATIVE! WE'LL REPRESENT YOU, AND WE WON'T CALL YOU NASTY NAMES BECAUSE WE'RE EVEN MORE BIGOTED THAN YOU ARE!
posted by koeselitz at 8:01 AM on May 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Well, if they're anything like our Republican party, a small but noticeable number of these bigots will end up in some sort of gay sex scandal.
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:01 AM on May 2, 2010 [9 favorites]


They really should be called "Conservative Scheme Tanks" or, perhaps, "Conservative Guile Tanks."
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:01 AM on May 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


A "Conservative Jerk Tank" might have the wrong PR effect.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:02 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Stroud is likely to take the Sutton and Cheam seat in Greater London

You think? I live in an adjacent constituency and my impression is that the Liberals are not likely to lose ground round here, especially to a fundamentalist. We may be a bit middle-class hereabouts, but in a muesli-eating, duvet-using kind of way.

Also, although I really don't like David Cameron I think I would grudgingly concede that of all Tories he is among the least likely to give any time to fundamentalist anti-gay nutters.

Possibly I'm seeing it rose-tinted, YMMV, etc.
posted by Phanx at 8:04 AM on May 2, 2010


I just feel bad for anyone who thinks homosexuals can be cured. They're bound to face a lot of guilt and disappointment once they face the real world. And it's all for nothing. If God hated gays, he wouldn't create so many of them.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:07 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think Phanx is right.
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 8:09 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just feel bad for anyone who thinks homosexuals can be cured. They're bound to face a lot of guilt and disappointment once they face the real world.

Or they just go on and on refusing to face the real world. It has been kind of a winning tactic for bigots of all stripes for decades (probably centuries) now....
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:11 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


It'll be fun watching the wingnuttery happen across the pond for once. Why can't they learn from our mistakes?
posted by jsavimbi at 8:21 AM on May 2, 2010


head of the Conservative thinktank The Centre for Social Justice

What's that sound, off in the distance? Could it be Glenn Beck's head exploding?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:22 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing the masks come off about 30 seconds after they get elected.
posted by Artw at 8:24 AM on May 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


A Charlie Stross rundown of the parties, for the Americans amongst you.
posted by Artw at 8:29 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gah. Link.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:31 AM on May 2, 2010


You think? I live in an adjacent constituency and my impression is that the Liberals are not likely to lose ground round here, especially to a fundamentalist.

That was lifted from the first Guardian link, I'm not sure.

One of the few good things about British politics is it's relative secularism and I would hate to see weirdo churchy types dictating public policy.

Sadly this seems not to be the case for the Tories, 37 of their prospective members come from the Conservative Christian Fellowship organisation, and a "string of powerful Christian businessmen helped bankroll the party, with many making significant donations in the days after the election campaign started" [quote from same article].
posted by ellieBOA at 8:40 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes, the next five years or so in the UK are going to be very depressing. Thank God I don't live here. Oh, wait ...

There's an excellent article by Jonathan Raban in the last LRB on the weird utopian radicalism that underlies some of the Tories' more lurid speculations on culture, society, and the role of government. If New Labour had Anthony Giddens as house sociologist, the Tories have theologian Phillip Blond, and his ideas are both weirdly dippy and scarily influential in shaping Tory social policy.
posted by Sonny Jim at 8:41 AM on May 2, 2010 [4 favorites]


the weird utopian radicalism that underlies some of the Tories' more lurid speculations on culture, society, and the role of government.

Great article, Blond has some ridiculously terrifying views.
posted by ellieBOA at 8:48 AM on May 2, 2010


I thought this kind of stuff was dreamt up in a Conservative Hate Canyon rather than a Think Tank.
posted by fire&wings at 9:04 AM on May 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


If they genuinely think prayer alters or even significantly influences reality, why have they bothered to develop a 'think tank'? (I guess it never hurts to have a back-up plan, come to think of it.)
posted by NetizenKen at 9:24 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's more of a bigot tank.
posted by Artw at 9:28 AM on May 2, 2010


Tory plan to raise VAT in leaked memo
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:37 AM on May 2, 2010


And it's a pity we can't cure people of Toryism... ie Fucking misinformed bigotry and selfishness.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:39 AM on May 2, 2010


I mean, you could argue that the assault on modern secularism started with Tony "I'm on a mission from God" Blair, but the Tories will likely take it much further. What they seem to be proposing is dismantling large bits of the public sector and devolving those responsibilities to the voluntary sector. It's a terrible idea. Not only will many thousands of public-sector professionals lose their jobs, but, as happened under Thatcher's infamous Care in the Community reforms, the needy will now fall back on an overstretched—or worse, non-existent—voluntary sector, whose skills and resources are demonstrably inferior to those of the state. And does anyone seriously think that the religious charities who'll pick up these contracts won't take the opportunity to impose their own belief systems on their charges, or allow their own personal moral codes to guide their judgement in particular cases?

What you end up with is a situation like New Zealand, where the government directly funds religious schools, who—unlike their state-school counterparts—have carte blanche to do pretty much anything they want. Like sacking a teacher for assigning King Lear (an "embarrassing, corrupting and morally defiling" play, apparently), and contractually "barring teachers from encouraging" pupils to go to University. I wish I were making this up.

Jesus. There's a reason why education and social services were removed from the grasp of the churches in the first place. I guess Britons are about to find out all over again just why that was.
posted by Sonny Jim at 9:44 AM on May 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


Abi, a teenage girl with transsexual issues, was sent to the church by her parents, who were evangelical Christians. "Convinced I was demonically possessed..."

WHAT

I will always be grateful that my own parents, who at the time I came out were pretty damned Evangelical, were forever turned from the movement after the Christian group they went to for advice told them I was evil.

I still haven't gotten round to going through the whole patronising "Gender Recognition" procedure for a new, corrected birth certificate, so I'm not actually on any central register of trans people. I'm wondering now if I'll have reason to be relieved about that, should the wankers get in.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:48 AM on May 2, 2010


does anyone seriously think that the religious charities who'll pick up these contracts won't take the opportunity to impose their own belief systems on their charges, or allow their own personal moral codes to guide their judgement in particular cases?

Fuck yeah. On behalf of young gay kids and especially young trans kids -- since trans health care is a highly visible item you can cut from a budget to look "tough on waste", if you're a fuckhead -- I'm terrified at the prospect of a Tory government. The support system for trans people in this country is threadbare as it is, with a postcode lottery basically deciding if you get treatment at all, and if social care responsibility is taken out of the hands of people with training and sensitivity and put in the hands of the religious, then I see death incoming.

Ah well. Time to find out about volunteering at the local GLbt centre.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:54 AM on May 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


Remember that it was the Conservatives that came up with Section 28.
posted by Artw at 9:56 AM on May 2, 2010


It's weird how the Evangelicals refer to almost any psychological "problem" as demons. My mom was friends with an Evangelical who had trichotillomania and would pull out her eyelashes and need to draw them back on, and she said that she did it because she had a "demon," in seriousness.

I'm guessing this is considered more acceptable because Christianity is an old religion. Meanwhile, it's easier to make fun of Scientology because they call the demons theatans. It strikes me as kind of sad and anti-psychiatry. Especially since many of those tendencies and disorders can be treated easily with CBT, supplements, or good old medication (say what you will about SSRIs, amphetamines, and so on, but they work).
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:07 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Look, none of this is surprising. The Tories have always been a party of bigots. Even if David Cameron is a "compassionate conservative" (a term which I personally believe means absolutely nothing) the moment he gets into power the racists, the homophobes and misogynists will all resurface and they will start creating laws that affect those that are the target of their bile. Make no mistake, this will happen. As a political entity they cannot function without targeting those who are in a weaker position in society. Rather than helping those people they will target those people as "the problem". That is what their base damands and at some point even the most "compassionate conservative" will have to acquiesce. If any of this is unacceptable to you then do not vote Tory.
posted by ob at 10:23 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dear Ms. Stroud,
You are cordially invited to the 21st Century.
RSVP
posted by jonesor at 10:29 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gay Tory blogger Iain Dale quotes this statement from Stroud:
“I make no apology for being a committed Christian. However, it is categorically untrue that I believe homosexuality to be an illness and I am deeply offended that The Observer has suggested otherwise. I have spent 20 years working with disturbed people who society have turned their back on and are not often supported by state agencies; drug addicts, alcoholics, the mentally ill and the homeless that I and my charitable friends in the public sector have tried to help over the years. The idea that I am prejudiced against gay people is both false and insulting.”
There is an election campaign going on, and it's not impossible that she's being smeared. TFA itself says Stroud left the church in question in the late 1990s: the homophobia may date from after that.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:42 AM on May 2, 2010


Great article, Blond has some ridiculously terrifying views.

Heh. "one of the more colourful aspects of his story is that – thanks to his father's second marriage – his stepbrother is the actor Daniel Craig, aka James Bond."
posted by I_pity_the_fool at 10:50 AM on May 2, 2010


Stroud is running in a Tory-LibDem marginal seat. The best way to stop her is thus for the voters of Sutton and Cheam to vote LibDem. Guess who's just told them not to?

Gordon Brown. Digging deeper...
posted by Skeptic at 10:53 AM on May 2, 2010


Suspicious of this. Googling Kings Arms Project Bedford brings up what appears to be a perfectly respectable Christian Charity (and I say that as an atheist.) The Lib Dems have a history of smears as anyone active in local politics knows. Try google for that too.

Just saying, don't all pile on
posted by A189Nut at 11:42 AM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I shouldn't worry too much about Philippa, hubby will be in charge anyway

posted by Fat Buddha at 11:52 AM on May 2, 2010


I've a freind who was dragged along to Stroud's church by someone who was getting Baptised. She describes it as "incredibly evangelical to the extent of cultish".
posted by Artw at 12:09 PM on May 2, 2010


What you end up with is a situation like New Zealand, where the government directly funds religious schools,

Of course, it's worth noting that this is mostly Labour's fault.
posted by rodgerd at 12:18 PM on May 2, 2010


So, okay, say I'm like cstross and I'm in a district where the Conservatives are running a distant third behind the Lib Dems and Labour. And also say that like cstross I believe that civil liberties are very quite important. However, let's also then say that I am a total complete unabashed leftist, like, say the party I really want to be voting for is Michael Foot's Labour party, except a while back Labour got completely hijacked [1] by tools. Is there any reason why lefter-than-left me would want to vote for Labour instead of the Lib Dems?

I'm asking this seriously — I know that the Lib Dems got their start as a party that was at the time to the right of (the good version of) Labour, and I've heard that they have a tendency to say different things to different people, and I have a vague sense that there's still a classical-liberal element to the party[2]. Is this enough for the hypothetical English version of myself[3] to consider Labour at all? Is there still an awesome old-Labour no-Third-Way-for-us-we're-socialists-thanks tendency in the Labour party, or has that been completely eradicated / rendered voiceless?

... or would hypothetical me just wish all of them dead and vote for RESPECT or the Greens or something? Or, alternately, in terms of actual for-reals me, should my totally unimportant, irrelevant, American self be unabashedly waving the Cleggmaniac flag, or instead saying measured things about how all the parties need work?

[1]: as far as I can tell from my distant vantage point, as unlike cstross I'm from the U.S.
[2]: which I as a good old fashioned socialist statist abhor, like, seriously, it seems to me like classical liberalism is the simple-easy-obvious-and-wrong solution to politics / political economy.
[3]: I think the hypothetical Scottish version of myself would probably be voting for the SNP, so it's really only hypothetical English me that's dealing with a conundrum.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:39 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I live in Scotland and there is a genuine feeling that if the Conservatives win it might mean an independent Scotland. People who are usually on the fence on the issue of independence may be swayed by the prospect of being governed by that bunch of bastards.
posted by Coobeastie at 1:46 PM on May 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


A think tank is only as smart / open-minded / fair / unprejudiced / unbigoted as the people who fund it.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 1:56 PM on May 2, 2010


Is there any reason why lefter-than-left me would want to vote for Labour instead of the Lib Dems? [...] Is there still an awesome old-Labour no-Third-Way-for-us-we're-socialists-thanks tendency in the Labour party, or has that been completely eradicated / rendered voiceless?

Vote Lib Dem in the hope of getting proportional representation next time around. It's possible (I hope) that the "broad churches" of Labour and Conservative will split into Old/New Labour and Pro/Anti Europe Conservatives.

I don't understand why anyone who supports a minority view - Green, BNP, Old Labour, UKIP, whatever - isn't voting Lib Dem. At least that way you get a shot at your vote counting for something next time.
posted by Leon at 2:41 PM on May 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you're curious to know what Philippa Stroud believes, take a look at the website of Newfrontiers, the group of churches to which she belongs (and where her husband David Stroud is one of the leaders). Newfrontiers describes itself as a church where Biblical family life is highly valued, where husband and wife embrace male servant leadership and joyful female submission, where godly parenting is taught and practised and where the special value of singleness and its unique opportunities are affirmed. In case you're wondering what 'godly parenting' means, the church's website helpfully explains that it involves the primary Biblical form of disciplining children with a wooden spoon on their chubby bottoms.

Newfrontiers is very unusual in being a Reformed Charismatic church, i.e. Calvinist in its theology but Charismatic in its style of worship. At times it can sound quite left/liberal in its emphasis on social action, e.g. it has a series of guides on 'serving asylum-seekers and refugees', 'supporting homeless people', 'responding to HIV/AIDS', and so forth (the one on HIV/AIDS doesn't even mention the word 'homosexual'), but underneath the soft marshmallow coating of 'mission to the poor', the social teaching is hardcore conservative. Another prominent Newfrontiers leader, Adrian Warnock, recently declared that a vote for Gordon Brown is a vote for persecution of Christians, and that if Labour were to be returned to power, it would mark 'the end of centuries of Christian liberty in Britain'.
posted by verstegan at 2:44 PM on May 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


There's an excellent article by Jonathan Raban in the last LRB on the weird utopian radicalism that underlies some of the Tories' more lurid speculations on culture, society, and the role of government.

Wow, that IS fascinating. It's interesting to see how the differences in the strains of nostalgic conservatism in American and English culture differ. While both idolize the past, American reactionariess tend
to idealize the cowboy or industrialist (the ones that don't pine for plantation life), while English nostalgia seems centered on pastoral, idealized village life. Both are equally divorced from history of course, but one is more individualist, and the other more communal.
TL,DR: Hobbits. I fully expected that description of pastoral English life to start describing Hobbition-on the Water.
posted by happyroach at 4:08 PM on May 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


The Parliament will be hung; that much I'm convinced. The more interesting aspect is what happens after that; will it be a Tory-Lib Dem coalition, or a LibDem-Labour coalition, if Labour comes third. This article, while suitably alarmist and all that, makes an interesting point on regional spreads of all three parties; the presumption is that the Tories will win a plurality mostly in England. If a LibDem-Labour coalition forms the government, will it be seen as a non-English sort of a ruling coalition? To expand the debate a bit, regionalism will also put the whole proportional represenation question in a bit of a tussle; how would you accommodate regional aspirations with proportional representation?

Lots of fascinating questions in this British elections that a lot of other Westminister-style systems should be interested in.
posted by the cydonian at 7:15 PM on May 2, 2010


So being from the states and not knowing anything about her, I'm asking this question just by looking at her photo.

Has she been cured?
posted by pianomover at 8:16 PM on May 2, 2010


'the end of centuries of Christian liberty in Britain'

You know, somehow I don't think that's going to happen as long as your head of state isn't also the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Yeesh.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:29 PM on May 2, 2010


*isn't
posted by Sys Rq at 9:30 PM on May 2, 2010


Has she been cured?

Well, we've all been praying for her but no, she's still a member of the Conservative party.
posted by eykal at 2:41 AM on May 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


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