Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Twitter Ye Not!

She may have hastily deleted her own Twitter account and Facebook campaign group, but the social media storm surrounding Conservative parliamentary candidate Philippa Stroud continues apace.

The link to the Observer newspaper article about her has been retweeted many thousands of times in the last 48 hours, with a baying mob of Twitterers demanding to know why the mainstream media has ignored the controversial story before concluding that it is no doubt a Murdoch-led conspiracy (in collusion with the pro-Tory BBC).

For more on the Philippa Stroud social media storm, check out this article from Channel 4's Benjamin Cohen.

Meanwhile Jonathan Bartley, writing on the Ekklesia website,  has a far more interesting take on the Mrs Stroud's religious beliefs:

"The paper has focused on her views about homosexuality. But there is a far more important issue, and that is who would have influence and ‘authority’ over Mrs Stroud if she were elected?

The New Frontiers Church that she attends, and of which her husband is one of the main leaders, teaches that a husband has ‘authority’ over his wife, and that a wife should submit to a husband's will in all things.

The husband is seen as the 'servant leader'. I know this from close personal experience of the church, and that it runs incredibly deep in the church. Indeed, it is fundamental to their religious approach. See this excerpt from the church’s 17 values which suggests that there must be “joyful female submission” in a marriage (value no. 7):

“A church where Biblical family life is highly valued, where husband and wife embrace male servant leadership and joyful female submission, where godly parenting is taught and practised and where the special value of singleness and its unique opportunities are affirmed”.

This is a church which does not allow women to have "governmental leadership" (in the church structures). Marrried women are only allowed to teach others in the church, or hold positions of responsibility, if this doesn't 'undermine' their husbands, and they are still under his 'authority'.

The question must be asked of Philippa Stroud whether, in the event she was elected to Parliament, she would on any occasion ‘submit’ to her husband's will and vote in a way that he thought was right, even if it contradicted her own position, the promises she had made to voters, or the manifesto on which she was elected?

On many issues, she probably has identical perspectives to her husband. But all marriages of course have their differences. Add to this the fact that the church leaders (including her husband), have some very definite and clear views on a whole ranges of issues from abortion to homosexuality, relationships between men and women, religious 'liberty' and the role of the family, and there could clearly be some circumstances in which the church, and her husband, feel that they need to make clear to her what they think. (The church seeks to take a 'biblical' approach to all matters be they spiritual, social or political).

If this happens, will she feel an obligation to take their line, even if it conflicts with her own? Her own religious beliefs, and that of her church, might suggest that she would. In political terms, we might call this a significant conflict of interest which needs to be declared."

6 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Michael said...

ha ha ha, I just love this stuff.

It would be great to see her or the story discussed on Newsnight by Paxman. She would get torn to shreds.
A real shame the BBC seem to have been silenced by a news blackout on this story, which in itself has a more worrying implication. ...why do I find myself not surprised by this.

Adrian Short said...

Any evidence that Ekklesia actually tried to ascertain Philippa Stroud's views on this matter, or is it easier just to write a long, speculative blog post and leave the question hanging?

Plenty of heat but very little light, and effort, on this one.

Michael said...

All we have are questions hanging as she has not commented on the article.

To me the it looks like the article was written to maybe generate a response from her.

Perhaps if Stroud was to make the 'effort' and come out and contest these accusations openly in an interview rather then going into hiding and removing her campaign website and twitter account there might be a little more light.
The fact she has done this only fuels the situation. It looks like an act of 'damage limitation' to me.

Chris said...

One only has to read her policies on social justice or her work with the poor to see she is authentic and the allegations made against her unfounded. The stories about her demonizing the gay community is simply not true. A casual read of her background with the homeless, gay, destitute, socially extricated or otherwise is, in my opinion a bold example of selfless action. I for one fully back Philippa and wish her all the best in the future and her candidacy. We need more authentic people like her!

Matt said...

It's a good job no-one ever covered up unpopular intentions and biases, isn't it? Thank goodness we can always rely on peoples' outward appearance and acts to understand the motiviation behind them.

Why, in this case, particularly, if Ms.Stroud harboured intentions of curing homosexuals from demonic possession, she would most certainly wear some kind of t-shirt or hat to declare the fact.

I'm personally glad it's all sorted.

Rick said...

Does anyone recall the scandal surrounding 'Paddy Pantsdown'? If I remember rightly, according to the Liberal Democrats, a politician's private life was then private and what a politician did outside Westminster had no bearing on their professional ability to represent their constituents. Hence Mr. Pantsdown's judgement was never to be questioned, by order of the Lib Dem management.

Of course, the Lib Dems are also usually full of religious tolerance, so how strange that they should suddenly become so heated and intolerant on the issue of an opposition candidate's religious beliefs, as well as their personal life, as reported second-hand, in a newspaper, which just by chance, is 'independently' supportive of the Lib Dem’s election campaign?

Well, as a result of all this, I guess anyone with an old-fashioned liberal view on religious tolerance had better vote Tory.

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