Like so many others, we were delighted to see the resignation of Iain Duncan Smith last Friday. The reforms carried out by the Department of Work and Pensions under IDS’ leadership have caused great suffering to the disabled, unemployed and low-paid, and are a sorry chapter in the history of the current Conservative administration. However, while we are pleased Iain Duncan Smith will no longer be in this role, we are concerned that his replacement comes in the form of Stephen Crabb MP.
What worries us most about Crabb is his poor record on LGBT+ rights. Not only did he vote against equal marriage, but he has associations with the Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) advocacy group, having been a parliamentary intern for them himself in 1996 and employing interns from the group in 2010. CARE has consistently opposed LGBT+ rights, and sponsored a conference which included speakers supporting ‘gay cure therapy’ and who described homosexuals as being ‘sexually broken’. Whilst Mr Crabb has said that he does not support gay cure theology, we feel that he should clarify what his links with CARE are and question his being involved with such an organisation at all.
As well as this, we are concerned about Mr Crabb’s uninformed and alarmist views about secularism. In an address to the Conservative Christian Fellowship, Crabb declared that ‘hard-edged secularism’ in the United Kingdom had to shoulder some of the blame for ‘aiding and abetting’ extremism and ‘pushing more young Muslims into the arms of Isis’. Not only does this statement betray a poor understanding of the processes of radicalisation, but it is also an ugly and undignified attempt to link humanist beliefs with the horrors of religiously driven terror. We would like to remind Mr Crabb that it was not until the secular ideas of the Enlightenment took primacy over religious dogma and superstition that Europe became free from the repressive terror spread by groups such as the Inquisition and we were able to make dramatic advances in the areas of science, medicine and minority rights. We are pleased to see someone from a working-class background a major ministerial role, but we urge Mr Crabb not to let his religious convictions blind him to the benefits secular societies bring or the rights of LGBT+ individuals.