A Conservative MP has hit out at the government’s top advisor on integration after she said it was “not OK” for Catholic schools to oppose gay marriage.
Sir Edward Leigh called for Catholics and members of other faiths to be on “full alert” over the government’s integration policy following comments from Dame Louise Casey last week.
Dame Louise, who wrote a report on the social segregation of immigrant communities, told MPs that Catholic schools should not be “homophobic” or “oppose gay marriage”. She also condemned “the expression of religious conservatism”, which she said could be “anti-equalities”.
Writing in the Catholic Herald, however, Sir Edward strongly criticised her comments and accused her of failing to understand Catholic teaching. He added that social problems will not be solved by “intimidating minorities into conforming to metropolitan liberalism”.
“The woman in charge of teaching us to be tolerant has revealed on the record that she is intolerant of Catholics and ‘religious conservatives’,” Sir Edward wrote.
“Dame Louise claims that people in Britain today have no freedom to ‘condemn others for living differently’ in the same breath as she condemns Catholics for living differently.”
The metropolitan liberal values that Dame Louise espouses are just as alien to many native Britons as they are to newly-arrived migrants, Sir Edward added.
The government’s integration effort, he said, “runs the risk of trying to ‘integrate’ newcomers to a vision of the country and of the world that many long-standing Britons either have strong reservations about or indeed reject completely.”
He added that faithful Christians should stand up for what they believe in, rather than “integrate” with these values, comparing the situation of Catholics now to that of the martyrs persecuted during the Reformation.
“‘Integration’ is precisely what many of our forefathers died to prevent, and what we seek to avoid today. The very purpose of the Church and of our lay role as everyday evangelists, is to reach out to society – not to be conquered and enslaved by it.”
“Centuries ago, the martyrs… refused to conform to the state’s attempts to impose its vision of society,” Sir Edward added. “They maintained the faith of their ancestors as well as of their fellow countrymen.”
In November, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury said British government officials are so ignorant about religion that they cannot see any difference between Evangelical Christians and Islamic extremists.
“Our Government generally is desperately trying to catch up, to understand a world in which they have no grip on what it is to be religious at all,” he said. “Where religious illiteracy is prevalent and extremely destructive of understanding and where they can’t see really the difference between an extremist Muslim group like the Muslim Brotherhood and a sort of conservative evangelical group in a Church of England church.”