I’m a Christian and this is why I vote UKIP

UKIP Logo rosettesToday’s guest post by the Reverend Sam Norton. It is the fourth in a series where writers are asked to discuss the reasons for their own political views and how they tie with their Christian faith. The first three are I’m a Christian and this is why I vote Conservative, …why I vote Labour and …Why I vote Green. The hope is that this series will facilitate an open conversation on how faith may be tied to differing political streams of thought. It builds on the findings of the recent Theos report that has analysed voting patterns of Christians, revealing some clear political divisions between some Christian groups.

Sam is currently a rector in the Church of England living in Essex. Before his ordination he worked for the Department for the Environment as a civil servant. His first book Let Us Be Human explores how the church should understand the ecological crisis. He blogs at Elizaphanian and tweets at @Elizaphanian.


We learn to be ashamed before we walk

On the principle that I may as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, I’d like to use this article to explain why I joined UKIP in the summer of 2011. One of the key elements of the English religious settlement after the Civil War was that religion was given a particular place – one that forbade any political involvement. This is why there remains something of a taboo about religious figures getting involved in political affairs in this country, although that taboo is, thankfully, beginning to break down, alongside all the other elements of our national life that are breaking down.

Religion and politics have always gone together. If we consider some key figures from history – look at Desmond Tutu, or Martin Luther King, or Gandhi – then the idea that religion and politics can be easily separated is seen as a nonsense; or, if not a nonsense, then as a particularly local English eccentricity, and whilst I am very much in favour of particularly local English eccentricities, this is not one that I can respect any more. When priests are ordained we are charged to ‘let the good shepherd be the pattern of our calling’ – in other words, we are to try to walk the walk that Jesus walked. As he was someone who was executed by the state for being politically inconvenient, I have some idea of how he would react to being put into a corner and told not to startle the establishment.

So why UKIP? Well, it won’t come as a surprise to many that I have always seen myself as being conservative – with a small ‘c’. In other words, I look to things like the development of character and virtue as the key way to move towards a better life, for an individual and for a community, and I see such things as being best cultivated by the ‘small platoons’ of local institutions, church and family life. The other side of that positive vision is that I share a profound distrust of the over-mighty state (actually, of any over-mighty institution or corporation, there’s not much difference between a mindless bureaucracy and a mindless supermarket chain for example). In the context of the economic devastation that has been working its havoc on our lives for several years now – with no prospect of improvement for at least a decade, if ever – what will enable us to get through the hard times is the quality of our social interactions, the strengthening of our community fabric, our capacity for good neighbourliness and looking after each other. I see the rise of the state through the twentieth century as a systematic dismantling of that social fabric, an intrusion of bureaucracy into areas that are best left to personal or local resolution, and consequently we are suffering much more from the economic consequences of political incompetence than we need to have been.

There were two key issues that made me change my mind about actually joining in with a political party – something that I haven’t done since my student days, when I used to campaign for the Green party. The first is becoming aware that the existing Conservative party would never hold an honourable referendum on leaving the European Union – they would do to the anti-EU cause exactly what they did to the Liberal Democrats on the referendum for electoral reform. The established leadership will mouth sufficient platitudes to keep enough euro-sceptics on board to preserve their access to power, but they will not entertain the radical step of withdrawing from the EU with any honesty. Clearly, that is only an issue in so much as withdrawal from the EU is an issue – and a large part of my changing mind on this is because I have come to see that particular issue as having such significance. Perhaps I can spell out why in another article; for now, let me say simply that the centralisation of power and authority in an unaccountable bureaucracy remote from the people that it claims to serve is the apotheosis of all the things which I instinctively distrust – and I am more and more convinced that it is the political equivalent of the dinosaurs after the asteroid had struck the Yucatan peninsula 65 million years ago. The world is changing very rapidly, and the future belongs to the local and the flexible – all the things which the EU most definitely is not.

There is a second issue that triggered my change of thinking, however, and this is more directly related to religious questions – the debate about gay marriage. This is not so much an issue about the ultimate substance – it is at least possible that I could be persuaded that there might be such a thing as ‘gay marriage’; I do, after all, have no problem with the idea of a religious blessing for gay civil partnerships. No, the key issue for me is the way in which this very significant change is being pushed through in such a fool-hardy fashion. For those of a conservative disposition issues around family and social formation are absolutely central, and any changes to the existing framework have to be considered extremely carefully. It is quite obvious that the existing political leadership have not thought through their understanding on this question, and that they are being driven by a particularly metropolitan form of political correctness. All the right people are in favour, therefore it must be a good thing. As a result, a huge change in our society is being pushed through at a fast pace and, quite simply, this is not a conservative way of doing things. It is not surprising that so many conservatives are deserting the Conservative party over this question – what is the point of something which doesn’t do what it says on the tin?

At the heart of my understanding, however, is a sense that I am fed up with a political culture that has an instinctive repudiation of all that is most noble and elevated in our own political heritage and national story. In the words of one of my favourite songs “we learn to be ashamed before we walk, of the way we look and the way we talk; without our stories and our songs, how will we know where we’ve come from? I’ve lost St George in the Union Jack, it’s my flag too and I want it back…” I am proud of my country – not blindly, not without an awareness of all that is terrible in our history from Amritsar to Dresden – but fully consciously, accepting that no country will ever be perfect and without sin, but still proud of the contribution that our society has made to things like the abolition of slavery and the establishment of human rights. The remarkable thing from my point of view is that so many of the things that are valued by the politically correct – a culture of humane tolerance for difference, of care for minorities, the weak and vulnerable – these all depend upon the prior existence of a healthy society which positively inculcates such virtues, and actively teaches the young not just that these are good things (we’re still paying lip service in that direction) but that the achievement of such good things is hard work and requires motivation and discipline, character and virtue. That is where we’ve gone wrong. We have forgotten the practical implications of living in a sinful world.

Ultimately, I want to ask – who are we as a nation? Are we really so weak and pitiful that we are dependent upon outside help and assistance in order to be the best that we can be? Do we need to depend on outside authorities to do good, and what is the cost of accepting such outside help – costs borne by our fishermen and farmers, our market traders and so on? Of course, I don’t agree with everything that UKIP stands for (seeking a party that perfectly conforms to our own ideas is one of the more self-indulgent of vanities) but it’s a question of priorities. I see the EU as having an entirely baleful influence upon our national life and economy, and I don’t think that we are going to be able to see any serious progress in addressing the mire of our political culture until there is a complete break with the EU. Hence – I am now a member of UKIP, out and proud!

This article was first posted on Sam’s Elizaphanian blog.

UPDATE: Sam has written a follow up to this article saying a bit more about the theology behind his views.

Categories: Fair trade, Party politics

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28 replies

  1. Interesting, but kinda bizarre. For me, if I was going to vote Tory it would be their support for equal marriage that won me over; but unfortunately the darkness of Tory practice in other areas pretty well smothers this one glimmer of light. But UKIP? Seriously? No way, bro’…

  2. Sam, i get a lot of what you say about personal responsibility and thinking small rather than institutionally. In fact, that’s why I think the Bible has so much to teach us. Here’s a quote from my Bible tutor;

    ‘The revolutionary Hebrew writers were light years ahead of us. They prescribed that we should all of us look at the world using the eyes (perspective/ideology) of the Hebrew marginals and thereby create a society in which no one was allowed to fall out of the net. Jesus himself encapsulated the whole thing in the phrase from Deuteronomy about loving the neighbour as one loves one self. In other words, instead of putting all our efforts into economic growth (as conservatism, liberalism and socialism do) we should put it into the creation of a righteous society.’

    My difficulty is, how can we achieve it, through any political party or none? I’m sort of a Christian and that’s why I think I’m an Anarchist.

  3. It interests me when people cite that “gay marriage” was rushed through. Yes it wasn’t part of the main manifesto but had been suggested as part of the equalities bill before the last election.

    On top of this the passage into law was via the same means and process as any other. Indeed if you followed it was probably under a greater deal of scrutiny. There is no rational assertion that can be made towards the passing of equal marriage law damaging or altering the family construct, if anything it adds to it.

  4. I don’t think you can be a Christian and support UKIP. I mean you can name yourself a Christian but if you really believe in what Jesus is saying it’s absurd to say that.

  5. I find this article contains some very muddled thinking. I am surprised that a former Green Party supporter should align himself with the climate change deniers of UKIP. And although I support entirely the ‘good society’ argument for some of the micromanagement of community affairs we need the state to manage the bigger picture. Who is going to have to take responsibility for the big clean up after the floods and develop the new infrastructure to alleviate future catastrophes of this kind? Neither ‘big society’ nor the private sector! But by far the most surprising aspect of a Christian supporting UKIP is why a follower of the Prince of Peace should want to divorce himself from an organisation that is most likely to maintain peace in Europe is quite beyond me. Whilst the EU is often regarded as an overbearing layer of government, surely it is vital protection for us in our increasingly globalised world. I accept that it should be our aim to improve its democratic foundations but we should not lose sight of the reasons why it is there in the first place. Christians should be encouraging the many forms of collective identity – local, regional, national, global. We will achieve far more by working together for peace, justice, democracy, human rights and prosperity throughout the European Union and beyond than in some offshore position. The EU provides a vital forum for Christians and others across the continent to get to know and to trust each other. The EU is a cause for hope in twenty first century Europe.

  6. What has any of this rubbish to do to do with the Gospel? I don’t know if any of these UKIP trolls realise that Jesus was a middle Eastern Jewish Arab who would be refused entry to their little England world as an illegal work shy immigrant.

    • a sign outside our local church some years back “What would you do if Jesus Christ came to Newcastle ?” the reply chalked underneath “Move Alan Shearer to outside left” .that’s how seriously I take the bunk that is religion.

  7. None of these previous comments appear to give any respect to the author’s views

    Do any of you respect Ghandi for his non-violent opinions about Indian independence?
    Do you respect Nelson Mandela for attempting to change apartheid?
    Do you respect Jesus for speaking out publically against the Romans?

    Why is it that in this the century where there is the most information available (Internet, libraries etc), that someone who is willing to raise their head above the parapet is not given any respect for their opinion?

    Bigotry – a definition:

    “intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself.”


    The author quotes: “Of course, I don’t agree with everything that UKIP stands for (seeking a party that perfectly conforms to our own ideas is one of the more self-indulgent of vanities) but it’s a question of priorities”, but some of the comments above are of the opinion that the author does agree with everything that UKIP stands for which shows little respect for the author and a bigotry of his views in my opinion.

    A healthy and free society is one where someone can voice their views and be respected for them, even if those views are not the same as the listeners, because bigotry is one step away and easy to fall into when you hold no respect. Clearly the author has thought very deeply about the decisions to change political party support over the voting lifetime and that alone deserves the readers repect

    • Orbs,
      this is Nigel Farage we’re speaking about, not Ghandi, Mandela or Jesus. He’s the bigot. The responders are tackling the issues of belief raised by the article. They have not insulted or maligned the author. Respect for the author can still exist, even when we call him out for spouting complete drivel! If we feel we cannot challenge his beliefs, views and statements – that’s where we get into problems.

  8. I’m not sure this article matches the title. There is nothing in this article about ‘I am a Christian, therefore…’. You’ve given a serious of secular reasons why you support UKIP, but there’s no tie-in with your Christianity.

    In any case, I’d point out that your stated reasons are still somewhat off the mark. You claim to distrust mindless corporations, and yet UKIP are their most shameless promoters with their low-tax, low regulation agenda. It just seems like you’re a bit little-Englandish.

    And your statement about minorities is painfully ironic – especially given how viciously anti-Muslim UKIP are. They are in some cases more extreme than the BNP on this issues:

  9. Wow, some incredibly short sighted and arrogant responses to Rev. Norton’s article, most of them exhibiting the kind of intolerance that the Jesus, who cloak they wrap themselves in to justify their attitude, would have denounced, and of which UKIP is generally accused by those who can’t be bothered to take the time to lift their noses out of the establishment’s mainstream media and find out for themselves. Indeed, the Pharisees are still with us. Even Cranmer (the blogger) can see through you all.
    For those who appear to be someone, I know not who they are, UKIP is tapping into the same conservativism of the British people that Margaret Thatcher tapped into, and across the party political divide. UKIP’s targets are the malicious forces of division that seek to break up British society – whether they be the EU or the social liberals in our own government. They support a smaller, and respected, state, the upholding of Judeo-Christian values, the family, and traditional marriage as an institutional building block of society, and the right of people to have a genuine and effective say in what happens to their country over the invidious plans of unelected Marxists. You can snigger and squirm and call it ‘little Englander’ and all the other silly juvenile names that are used to shut down debate in what passes for democratic discourse these days, but the general populace are no longer on the side of the Westminsterite clique.
    Crying crocodile tears about International Development, even though people who are on the ground can tell you what is really happening, is just posturing.
    It is increasingly evident that the new touch-stones of heresy/orthodoxy for ‘respectable’ people has become Climate Change/AGW and the Gender issue. For those who take the name Christian, and follow Him who is called the Truth, it is surprising how many – such as a Lord who has denounced Rev Norton on Twitter – are happy to avoid following the truth when it is not politically expedient. So much the worse for them, and for those who follow them. if you choose to close your eyes to readily available facts about what the mainstream political parties are up to, then you are indeed the blind leading the blind. As for those of us who have taken notice: We’re here, we’re not going away, get used to it.

  10. I’ve written a follow up to this article – and saying a bit more about the theology behind my views – on my own blog here: http://elizaphanian.com/?p=5409

  11. I am standing for the Christian peoples Alliance in the Eastern region,. we have candidates in London and the South east, we stand firm in God, Jesus is our Saviour the Holy spirit is the driving force behind our bid to become MEPs, We stand for marriage between one man and one woman, we stand to leave the EU because of the corruption which is being hidden and we stand to protect the unborn child which is a gift from God, when i went to UKIP to ask about their views on being a Christian and Abortion I was told its up to the individual? they do not have any policy, we are the only party who stand for the truth.

    • ..and your views on poverty/inequality, injustice, environmental degradation? Unless you, and your candidates, actually take these seriously as Christian issues, I don’t think you’ll ever be worthy of your name.

      • Poverty and injustice are what many Christians are addressing by becoming a government within a government, who support local communities, global injustice is brought on by greedy multinational corporations and the military complex which keeps conflicts raging around the world we want to see an end to that vicious circle which keeps certain countries with their heads above the water.

        • Hi Carl, thanks for the answer. I have 2 questions:

          1) What is your party’s plan for addressing these issues at a Government level, and
          2) Why was your immediate comment focussed on abortion/marriage to the exclusion of these issues? Does your party think them less important?

        • Thanks Tom, Abortion should be addressed within the education system from an early age, we see education as a key factor to the genocide that is happening with over 7 million abortions since the act came in, in1967, think of the wealth of talent that has been wiped out? Marriage is between one man and one woman, one thing that has come out of the unconstitional redefining marriage bill is they are now looking at abolishing civil partnerships, these are just a couple of issues we are addressing we have more on our manifesto which are all as important, especially poverty. I was going to join UKIP as a councillor but was turned down as had been a member of the NK and BNP in the past, working for the police infiltrating them, but rules are rules as for addressing issues in government it will mean aligning ourselves to parties with the same views as us. as we are a minority party at the present.

  12. I read out your view about the traditional affairs and i also have some attachments with the UKIP and also think that it is right .

    With regards.

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