One of the nastiest accusations against gay people is the claim that they “recruit” children with the intention of turning them gay. In Britain, most groups that oppose LGBT rights, even the fairly extreme ones, tend to avoid making this claim explicitly. However, it has now turned up on a leaflet distributed by the group called Christian Soldiers of UKIP.
Christian Soldiers of UKIP is a group set up by Christians who belong to the UK Independence Party (UKIP). The UKIP leadership has described the group as “authorised but not official”.
Nigel Farage and his colleagues insist that they do not share the group’s views on sexuality. Nonetheless, they are prepared to work with them. They have certainly not disowned the “Christian Soldiers”.
I wrote on the Huffington Post a few days ago about UKIP’s links with right-wing Christian lobby groups such as Christian Concern. Earlier this week, Nigel Farage launched UKIP’s “Christian Manifesto”, which offers to defend Britain’s “Christian heritage” and the “rights” of Christians who want to discriminate against gay and bisexual people.
The latest comments from UKIP’s Christian Soldiers shows further evidence of the party’s willingness to tolerate homophobia.
The leaflet in question is an attack on sex education in schools, which it claims is seeking to “normalise” same-sex relationships. The leaflet’s writers declare, “The state is allowing the sexual grooming of our Primary School children for same-sex attraction”.
This leaflet was distributed during at least one hustings event in East Anglia (without the organisers’ permission). I would be interested to hear from anyone who has seen it, or any similar leaflets, elsewhere.
In their leaflet, UKIP’s Christian Soldiers state:
“What the LGBT is achieving, of course, is a recruitment drive. As such people cannot reproduce their own kind, they must recruit among the young and this is best done among children in schools, the younger the better.”
Presumably the Christian Soldiers of UKIP believe that heterosexuals can “reproduce their own kind” by giving birth only to children who turn out straight.
The leaflet includes the lyrics of songs and dances for young children that imply a celebration of a same-sex marriage or unclear gender identity. On the grounds that the children change “partners” during the activity (as they surely do in lots of activities), the leaflet adds the note, “Multiple partners made to seen normal”.
The Christian Soldiers of UKIP state:
“Ideally, we should work towards the removal of all ‘sex education’ from state schools.”
They then go on to link increased sex education with a rise in teenage pregnancies and abortions. No evidence whatsoever is cited to back this up.
Marginalised and minority groups have always been accused of harming children. Most famously, European Jews were for centuries accused of kidnapping and crucifying Christian children (the blood libel, as it’s commonly called). However, early Christians were also accused of drinking children’s blood. Recently, child abuse in the UK has attracted more attention when the perpetrators have been Asian and the victims white, with racists linking the horrific abuse of children not to the people who committed it but to whole ethnic or religious groups.
At the same time, recent years have given ample evidence of how child abuse is often overlooked when the perpetrators are powerful or respected. Child abuse should be tackled regardless of the perpetrator, not used as a means to attack social minorities.
Christian Soldiers of UKIP, in their leaflet, quote Jesus’ comments about not harming children. This is outrageous. They want to deny children the chance to learn about life, to consider different ethical views for themselves and to grow up to form healthy, loving, consensual relationships free from prejudice and narrow gender roles.
I could call on UKIP to disassociate themselves from the Christian Soldiers, but I’m not going to bother. UKIP’s tolerance of homophobia is already clear. Christians, however, need to do a better job of rejecting it.
Let’s remember that some of those who have been handed this vicious leaflet may not have read or heard many other comment from Christians on sexuality. If we don’t do a better job of speaking up, it may be the only Christian perspective on sexuality that they encounter.