THE expulsion of a Christian councillor from the Green Party's
ruling group in Brighton in 2012 should not dissuade people from
voting for the party, Professor Tim Cooper, the founder of Green
Christian (formerly the Christian Ecology Link), has said.
Rather, it should "prompt greater Christian involvement in the
Writing in a paper for the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian
Ethics (KLICE), with Colin Bell, a researcher, Professor Cooper
concludes that "many Christians may be attracted to vote for the
Green Party in the coming election," even though some would "feel
uncomfortable with its position on key moral issues". Professor
Cooper is former chairman of the Green Party, and a three-time
The paper says: "The party has attracted Christians from across
all denominations, and has particular support from Quakers, many
drawn by its policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament. None the
less, some members regard traditional expressions of religion as
outmoded and oppressive, and the Party has also attracted people
involved in the New Age movement. . .
"A tendency towards liberalism and inclusivity in party thinking
hints at syncretism or universalism, but it also implies tolerance.
Significantly, the party has often described its political approach
with reference to a phrase commonly used in Catholic social
teaching, 'the common good'.
"Less positively, tensions with Christians emerged in 2012, when
a councillor on Brighton and Hove city council, Christina Summers,
was expelled from the ruling Green group in response to her vocal
opposition to same-sex marriage. Freedom of religious belief was
evidently judged secondary to gay rights, a questionable act given
that the party claims not to favour a 'whip' system for voting.
Hopefully, this will prompt greater Christian involvement in the
party rather than withdrawal."
The paper says that "other Christians have had a more positive
experience" in the party, and it points to the Green Party's first
two members of the House of Lords, who were both committed
Christians: the founder of the Iona Community, George MacLeod, and
the Revd Tim Beaumont, an Anglican priest and former publisher.
The Vicar of St Cedd's, Becontree, in east London, and Chaplain
to Goodmayes Hospital, the Revd Tony Ford Rablen, is standing for
the Green Party in Barking, though he admits that he is "very
unlikely to be elected". He said on Tuesday: "To be honest, if I
did have a chance of being elected, I don't think I would be
standing. . .
"If I did get elected, I would unseat Margaret Hodge, which
would be a shame, because she is a great MP."
He was standing, he said, "to give people who live here a chance
to vote for the Green Party, which is an opportunity that they
wouldn't otherwise have."