I have refrained from too much comment on the Iris Robinson controversy as I believe that her remarks speak for themselves, and indeed are indicative of the strain of condemnatory Christianity which infests the DUP. A couple of bloggers’ thoughts are worth reading however.
Brian Crowe on Burke’s Corner argues from the perspective of more mainstream Christian churches that Robinson’s hate filled rant is aberrant to genuine Christian teaching. I am in no position to comment on Brian’s contention that, “the Christian tradition has a responsibility and obligation to act with respect towards gay people - a responsibility and obligation that flow from foundational Christian beliefs with regards to creation and redemption”, but it does confirm to my mind that Robinson’s Christianity is of a particularly virulent strain, and although she does not belong to the Free Presbyterian Church herself, that organisation, which still exercises a hugely influential role in the DUP, is characterised by a similarly judgmental predisposition.
Brian argues that Mrs Robinson’s views are theologically unsound. That is an argument which he can probably sustain with reference to clerical opinion, but although her views may not be typical of mainstream Christianity, they are typical of countless evangelical Protestant sects, and it is from this constituency that the DUP draws a disproportionate number of its members and an even more disproportionate number of its leaders.
Meanwhile Ciarán from Draw Breath scrupulously explains why it is not sufficient to adduce principles of free speech in defence of Mrs Robinson’s decision to describe homosexuals as ‘disgusting’, ‘loathsome’ and ‘an abomination’. It is not her right to express these views which should be attacked, but her suitability to hold public office, or to represent the public, part of which she volubly accuses of being ‘disgusting’, ‘loathsome’ and so on.
The real problem, of course, is not even Mrs Robinson per se. It is the character of the party which has been voted in as Northern Ireland’s largest. This party is embarassing Northern Ireland and embarassing unionism throughout the UK and beyond.