Friday, 2 October 2009

Another tale of DUP prejudice and nutterism. Who'd've thunk it?

The Irish Independent reports that the DUP’s Ian McCrea has offered up the latest piece of rabid sectarian nutterism to infect that party.

If you live in Northern Ireland, brace yourself, because, according to the Mid Ulster MLA, more likely than not, you believe that the pope is the anti-Christ. A selling point for Northern Ireland PLC which I’m certain his colleagues in the Department of Trade and Insdustry will be eager to push, as they seek investment around the globe.

Al Murray’s doppelganger elaborates, ‘blah blah blah paedophile priests, blah blah blah if the pope visits I’ll round up a group of fanatical idiots to make fools out of themselves and embarrass their countrymen, blah blah blah I’m sure I’ve still got Roy Gillespie’s number’. I paraphrase.

Familiarity, they say, breeds contempt and it is easy to dismiss McCrea’s comments as more spittle flecked Free P millenarianism, but let’s stop for a moment and consider what a dispassionate observer, looking in from outside, might see and hear.

We have a member of Northern Ireland’s largest party, charged with building a shared future, spewing forth hate, towards a religion which 40% of the population nominally subscribes to, and a considerable proportion cherishes. It is simply appalling! And I don’t care whether McCrea and his like sincerely believe that the Pope conceals two horns in his wee white cap and a tail under his tunic - their beliefs are conceived in ignorance, suspicion and contempt.

I don’t for a moment accept that the majority of practising Protestants in Northern Ireland view the pope as the anti-Christ. I am more or less certain that relatively few unionists share that belief.

A particularly unpleasant form of evangelical Protestantism is represented, disproportionately, within the DUP. It can’t help but influence that party and edge its approach towards sectarian bigotry.

Within the last number of years the DUP has managed to decontaminate itself in the eyes of moderate unionist voters, however intolerance has never been far beneath the surface.


Andy W said...

Beyond parody

Anonymous said...

I don't particularly care about Ian McCrea's view.

However, there is the tiny difficulty that all of the main Protestant denominations do subscribe to the Westminster confession of faith - so all of those terribly 'nice' people who go to their Presbyterian church on a Sunday - and particulary anyone who's taken communion there - accepts that as their belief.

A belief which includes the Pope being classed as the anti-Christ...

Tricky one that really.

Anonymous said...

I'd also love to know whether the entirety of UCUNF is on board with the terribly liberal and terribly 'nice' view that we should hug a Pope.

Frankly most of the (few), UUP voters I know are still members of the Orange Institution - another organisation which believes the pope is the antichrist.

All very well for a few "intellectuals" (and I use that word in the loosest sense) to see this as all something very natural and not a problem (which it probably is) but even for a large swathe of the UUP electorate Ian McCrea is much closer to their thinking than it would appear the majority of the UUP members are.

I see John McCallister fuming about it on the internet for example. Wonder will he be sticking out a statement to the local papers in Kilkeel explaining his hopes for a papal visit??

shane said...

No member of the Church of Ireland could logically subscribe to the Westminster Confession of faith and remain consistent with Anglican doctrine. It is a quintessentially Presbyterian document. The Church of Ireland has never regarded the Pope as the anti-Christ in any of its historic doctrinal formulae.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous needs to check his facts.

"All the main Protestant denominations do subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith" - no, they don't.

Anglicans have the 39 Articles, which make no mention of the Pope being the anti-Christ. Methodism similarly does not (very obviously) subscribe to the Westminster Confession, nor do its formularies describe the Pope as the anti-Christ.

Tricky one that really - only Presbyterians have a confession of faith so describing the papacy. And many Presbyterians, realising that the Confession is not Scripture, regard that portion of it referring to the papacy as describing a particular period in history, not contemporary relationships between the Christian churches.

Do some NI Protestants regard the Pope as the anti-Christ? Of course. But it is not the only Protestant voice in NI. Certainly, during 39 years in the CofI, I have never once heard anyone seriously suggest that the Pope is the anti-Christ. Nor have I heard it ever raised in Methodist circles.

Ian McCrea and Anonymous represent a Protestant voice, not the Protestant voice.

shane said...

I have no means of establishing the veracity of Anon's (12:35) claims, but if there are many in UCUNF who would agree with Ian Mc Crea, then it raises questions over the propriety of the Conservative-UUP link-up.

Chekov said...

Shane, go to Burke's Corner, he investigates that fallacy rather effectively.

McCrea has been met only with derision across the board.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the theological round-up.

What I'd love to see of course is a UUP statement backing up the views which are being expressed in 'private' (facebook etc) actually going out there and welcoming the idea of the Pope coming.

Are they prepared to see how far their views will actually fly with the NI public - outside of the dinner party elite?

fair_deal said...

Oh dear he really has got this wrong.

The pope's visit should be treated like any other large public event that people have different views upon. Those who wish to attend events in support of him should be free to do so.

If there are those who disagree sufficiently with his visit or views then they should hold a peaceful protest, whether they be evangelical protestants or members of the Church who are angered over the abuse cases.

Burke's Corner

Theological/Historical questions (based on my what is probably my ignorance of Anglicanism). The following questions are based on garbled memories of a conversation I had with an active anglican a number of years ago.

As I understood it the 39 articles were not meant as a complete statement of the Anglican faith? As I understood it the work of Thomas Cranmer had a significant influence upon the 39 articles? As I understood it Cranmer's views on the pope and the anti-christ were very clear, am I mistaken on these?

As for Methodism, I was raised one of its local off-shoots independent methodism, in which I was taught that John Wesley considered the pope the anti-christ as well? (IIRC correctly it was even in our catehcism)

Anonymous said...

There is no mention of the Pope as the 'anti-Christ' in Orange doctrine either, in case it needs pointing out.

To be honest, the only place I've ever heard this clap trap is in Free P protests & archived/fringe DUP submissions.

Still far too often, but when people vote for them regardless I can only suggest they have a blinkered view of their own omnipotence?

Anonymous said...

Fair Deal - yes, Cranmer would have regarded the Pope as the anti-Christ ... and the Turks, and probably Anabaptists. But at no stage was this view enshrined in Anglican formularies.

You are also right that the 39 Articles are not a complete statement of Anglican faith. They exist alongside the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal - neither of which have any reference to the Pope.

On Methodism, I stand to be corrected by Methodist friends - but am genuinely not aware of Methodist formularies referring to the Pope as anti-Christ.

Wesley quite probably did believe the pope was anti-Christ. He also believed in trying those accused of witchcraft ... a reminder that even theological giants (of which Wesley was one) are shaped by their era.

All that said, agree with your opening point.

Anonymous said...

We at The Bavarian Orange Order agree with the DUP gentleman and as long as we can drink as much as we like he can say what he wants.