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Press: Guardian calls out lobby group’s shenanigans      

01 December 2023


THE GUARDIAN put the boot into the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), not before time. “Medics treating critically ill babies are quitting their jobs owing to ‘considerable moral distress’ caused by a right-wing Christian group behind a series of end-of-life court cases,” the paper declared.

“Senior doctors claimed the behaviour of some evangelical campaigners was ‘prolonging the suffering’ of seriously ill infants. They accused them of ‘selling falsehoods and lies’ to families and of using legal tactics condemned by judges.”

This is not a surprise to anyone who has followed recent CLC campaigns. What I had not known was that there is a loophole that allows them to operate as if they were reputable lawyers: “The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) undertook a review of the CLC after the Alfie Evans case in 2018. However, the company does not fall within the SRA’s remit because it is not a registered legal firm.”

It is not only medics who are put under “moral distress”, The Guardian reports. “One paediatric intensive care consultant, who did not want to be named, said she thought the organisation was placing ‘tremendous pressure’ on families to feel as if ‘the only way they can be a good parent is to jump through all of these legal hoops, otherwise they haven’t tried their best for the child.’”

The Guardian was unfair, though, in its description of the organisation as “the centre of a well-funded international nexus of rightwing evangelist groups who oppose LGBTQ+ rights, abortion and same-sex marriage”. The use of “evangelist” for “Evangelical”, usually a mark of sloppy ignorance, ought here to read “disevangelistic”, since this account of the CLC’s actions will surely put people off Christianity.

The Telegraph carried the latest CLC campaign: on behalf of a lecturer, Dr Aaron Edwards, who was sacked from a Methodist seminary after tweeting that “homosexuality is invading the church” (News, 24 March). He also claims — and the college denies — that he was threatened with a referral to Prevent for his opinion.

What makes the story is the line that “Edwards’s legal team said that he will argue that the college unlawfully interfered with his . . . right to hold religious beliefs and freedom of expression.” The scandal of a theological college that employs staff who attempt to inform students’ religious beliefs!

WHAT the CLC has in common with the amorphous far Right is a deep loathing of all forms of secular authority. Their campaigns make sense only on the assumption that all the doctors and hospitals involved are malevolent incompetents. This distrust comes to its full flowering in the United States, and specifically in the “Christian Redoubt”, a corner of the West between Idaho and Montana, to which thousands of Evangelicals have retreated to wait for the apocalypse.

Jacob Furedi, on UnHerd, talked to a number of these people, and even to the man credited with founding the movement: “If the Redoubt has a Messiah, it is James Wesley, Rawles. (The comma is an affectation.) A former US Army intelligence officer, Rawles has spent decades preaching about America’s imminent implosion to thousands of Christian conservatives, and the importance of them retreating to the mountains.”

Naturally, I went to look at his blog, which carried a switchblade review and an advertisement for a series of books by a retired Californian policeman: Suburban Defence, Suburban Warfare, and Rural Home Defence. These contain advice on how to deal with armed drones, which the government is bound to send out after Christians. It is a must-read for anyone who has held back from making a Christian commitment for the lack of practical advice on shooting their neighbour.

Furedi does a good job of humanising these people: “Brian, a devout Christian, describes himself as ‘a Redoubter before the Redoubt even started’, having escaped California with his family in 1993. . . When the Rodney King riots erupted, Brian was caught in the city and surrounded by a gang of looters who only backed off after he pulled out his gun. He put his house for sale and waited for a sign from God — it came six days later, when someone bought it straight away.

“Why does he think so many have joined him? Brian quotes Rawles: ‘There is a very thin veneer of civilisation, and its edges are starting to peel off. You can feel it.’ Even in the Redoubt? Yes, he says, before describing a recent incident in nearby Coeur D’Alene, when a car thief attempted to run over its 74-year-old owner. Then comes the twist: ‘The owner jumped on the hood and shot him dead through the windshield.’”

AND, finally, since it seems to be this sort of week, the Telegraph carried the news that Jesus Christ is to be proclaimed King of Slovakia.

“Štefan Kuffa, the state secretary of Slovakia’s culture ministry, called on the clergy to support the coronation of the son of God in a 12-minute speech at the Basilica of St Nicholas.

“Mr Kuffa, 61, said: “On behalf of the Ministry of Culture, we make a promise . . . that as soon as possible, Christ the King will be enthroned and become the King of Slovakia.”

Apparently, Christ’s foreign policy is to stop all aid to Ukraine.

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