Let us pray for the repentance of Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester, who is a troubled soul.
If he’s not knocking England’s Muslims, it’s our gay compatriots…
The editorial in today’s Morning Star, A message to the bigots, on the bishop’s response to Pride.
There’s a message to all of us contained in the distasteful pronouncements of the Bishop of Rochester at the weekend.
Dr Michael Nazir-Ali delivered his considered opinion of what he believes is a proper, Christian attitude towards those who do not share the conventional sexual orientation that his church espouses.
And that message was every bit as detestable as the Islamist fundamentalism that justifies jihad and terrorism as weapons in a battle for religious rectitude.
It bears about the same relationship to the attitude of everyday Christians as jihadism bears to the attitude of everyday Muslims. And that is none whatsoever.
We welcome homosexuals, we don’t want to exclude them, said Bishop Bigot.
“But they are going to have to repent and be changed.”
Everyone with any involvement in the peace and anti-war movements has had experience of working with active and committed Christians of all denominations or none.
And, from a socialist perspective, that experience is generally a positive and optimistic one, of working with people with a different motivation, but with a commitment to the human race, to the shared values of respect for life and of toleration of difference.
It’s a meeting of minds with people who do not necessarily share every principle that we espouse, but who have enough courage to join in solidarity over the things on which we agree and to develop mutual understanding on those points which may divide us.
It is a celebration of mutual respect and a working agreement that there are shared aims which are common to people of very different life experiences and have a value which transcends the proscriptions with which those who would divide us hedge us around.
There is a lesson for Dr Nazir-Ali in our shared experiences.
It is a lesson that he, and all the bigots of all religions or none should take to heart.
And that lesson is that the human race is greater by far than the narrow, prejudiced and perverted caricatures that the merchants of dogma would turn us into.
Half a million people gave the lie to the bishop at the weekend on the streets of London.
The queers and the queens, the bears and the dykes were joined by the trade unionists, the communists, the socialists and the militants from a dozen different fields in mutual solidarity to celebrate people’s right to live as they are, not as they are expected to be by their lords and masters, temporal or spiritual, in this narrow, proscriptive, capitalist society.
The Tories and the Establishment are falling over themselves to appear gay-friendly.
However, that’s not through tolerance of difference, that’s through a cold appreciation of the electoral advantages to be gained.
But take the mask off and you have the crusader, the figurehead who would thrust onto you the conformity of intolerance and the rigour of convention – provided that that conventionality suits the prejudices that still hold sway in a reactionary Establishment.
There’s a lesson for socialists in the bigotry of the bishop and the unity of the half-million people on the streets of London whom he railed against.
And that is that solidarity and tolerance are principles which unite us. Given unity, all the distasteful orthodoxies that are built to control us are powerless to do so.
That unity takes work to achieve, tolerance to establish and patience to build.
With it, we are invincible but, without it, the Nazir-Alis of this world will divide, weaken and dominate. It’s our choice.