John Gummer MP hates Humanists!

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16 Responses

  1. Linn Barringer says:

    This is utterly mind-bogglingly incredible!

    I happen to find his type of fundamentalist christian beliefs abhorrent but I don’t think even I would be as politically inept as to say that “I hate catholics”, in public, at a meeting that was crawling with press, even if I did want to!

    Apparently some of the kinder teachings of his church, like tolerance, forgiveness, turning the other cheek, do unto others, etc. have faded from his memory.

  2. josh kutchinsky says:

    Makes my blood boil.
    I wonder how non-Christian Conservative party members feel about these scurrilous, bigoted comments now that they find themselves, according to John Gummer MP, as second class members of the party.
    I also wonder whether the Tory party leadership would endorse the claim that “the Conservative party is and always has been a Christian party”.

  3. Don Tricker says:

    Ah! The death throes of a political dinosaur. I was tempted to make a web search for “John Gummer, pillock, plonker”. Sure enough there he was. He is a permanent embarrassment to the modernising wing of the Conservative Party with such extreme un-Christian views. No doubt it was only meant as a “joke”? With people like Gummer on the loose the Conservatives will remain confined to the sidelines and impotent. As ye sow so shall ye reap…

  4. simonsmith says:

    If he can be so roused by our lack of faith it makes one wonder what feelings he has for people who have a different faith to his. As a member of a ‘Christian’ party I presume he is willing to do without the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish etc etc vote as well.

  5. Margaret Nelson says:

    This has been written to John Gummer. Look out for a reply.

    Dear Mr Gummer,

    At last week’s party conference, you were overheard making derogatory comments about Humanists. If you were a private citizen, it would be different, but as MP for Suffolk Coastal constituency, your attitude has implications for the interests of your non-Christian constituents.

    We are grateful to several members of the British Humanist Association who were manning our stall for an account of what happened. The Chair of Lancashire Humanists, Ian Abbott, posted the following on their website:

    As John Gummer came upon the British Humanist Association’s campaign stand in the exhibitors gallery at the Winter Gardens this afternoon he was clearly heard to say to his companion “Do you know there is nothing I hate more than these Humanists”.

    He then launched into a loud abusive rant in which he complained that The British Humanist Association “had no right to be here” and, with spittle-filled passion, he pointed his finger at startled BHA members and declared, “The Conservative Party is and always has been a Christian Party” (big emphasis on “Christian”) before turning on his heels and storming off without giving those volunteers (me included) an opportunity to respond.

    An Ipsos MORI poll for the BHA last year showed that just over a third of the UK population has a Humanist outlook on life, which means that a significant proportion of your constituents might be described as Humanists or atheists. Some of them voted for you. Now that we’ve publicised your comments on our website (which attracts a lot of traffic), they may think again.

    Perhaps you’d like to explain your remarks. One of those who left comments on our website wrote,

    I wonder how non-Christian Conservative party members feel about these scurrilous, bigoted comments now that they find themselves, according to John Gummer MP, as second-class members of the party.

    I also wonder whether the Tory party leadership would endorse the claim that “the Conservative party is and always has been a Christian party”.

    If a senior politician had made similar comments, substituting “Muslims” or “Catholics” for “Humanists”, there’d be an outcry. Why should we be expected to ignore such bigotry?

    Hanne Stinson, Executive Director of The British Humanist Association, will be taking this matter up with Conservative Central Office.

    Meanwhile, I hope you’ll take this opportunity to answer these questions for non-Christian constituents, Humanists in particular.

    Yours sincerely,

  6. Linn Barringer says:

    You wrote …similar comments, substituting “Muslims” or “Catholics” for “Humanists”, there’d be an outcry…
    That’s not supposition, either. Remember dear Ken Livingstone referring to a pushy press photographer (who happened to be jewish) as a Nazi. There was more than an outcry.
    I’m disappointed this hasn’t got into the local, let alone national press. Yet.

  7. Nathan Nelson says:

    I’d be surprised if this receives any wider coverage. If his comments were aimed at Muslims or another faith group, doubtless there would be an outcry, but it seems you can say what you like about atheists, doesn’t it?

  8. Margaret Nelson says:

    John Gummer MP has replied to my email of last week, as follows:

    Dear Mrs Nelson

    I do not hate anybody and the fact that the Lancashire Humanists should have reported my comments in an entirely untrue way underlines my views of Humanism, which is that it is an intolerant religion. I actually pointed out to the Humanists present at the Conservative Party Conference that the roots of the Conservative Party are Christian.

    I would be obliged if the comments are removed from the website as they are untrue, and my judgement will be affected by the alacrity with which this is done.

    John Gummer

    I relayed this message to Ian Abbott, who first alerted us to the incident in Blackpool. He disputes Mr Gummer’s claim that this report is untrue, and says that, apart from those on the BHA stand, several people from neighbouring stands also heard him, and one suggested that they should complain about Mr Gummer to Conservative Central Office. The BHA will be taking this up. If the people from adjoining stands are traced, they should be able to confirm the Humanists’ version of events.

    As far as I’m aware, my interview on BBC Suffolk this Sunday is still happening.

    Oh, and Humanism isn’t a religion.

  9. Margaret Nelson says:

    Ian emailed in response to Mr Gummer’s denial:

    Hi Margaret; and greetings to your fellow Humanists in Suffolk.

    Thank you very much for keeping me informed as this debate has developed.

    Being called “intolerant” by Mr Gummer is a bit rich in the light of his completely unprovoked outburst in which he proclaimed …. and I quote … we “had no right to be here”. Meaning (I assume) the Conservative Party Conference (but then I suppose he ‘could’ have meant The Planet). BTW Conservative Central Office clearly had no such qualms about our presence when they accepted the not-insubstantial fee from the BHA to set up the stand.

    Your readers (and Mr Gummer I suppose) should know that I was for 25 years a front line Policeman (having retired only a few years ago). I am not in my dotage and fully appreciate the value of recording events as soon as possible while the details are still fresh in my mind.

    Mr Gummer’s outburst occurred in the afternoon of Tuesday 2nd October and I recorded that conversation no more than three hours later having first confirmed the accuracy of what I understood him to have said with those BHA colleagues who were also present. I stand by my reporting of that incident 100%.

    As you quite rightly mentioned, we were in fact approached by a neighbouring event stand holder who declared that he himself was a Conservative party member and went on to say he was astounded and embarrassed by Mr Gummer’s intolerable behaviour. He himself strongly urged that we should report Mr Gummer’s conduct to Conservative Central Office. After Mr Gummer had beetled off other event stand people nearby were laughing with incredulity as the realisation of what they had witnessed dawned on them.

    If Mr Gummer wants to perpetuate this matter further in an attempt to save face I imagine it will not be too difficult to locate all the event stand personnel who were in the immediate vicinity to corroborate whose version of what took place is indeed the one which is most accurate.

    I await with interest the outcome of the BHA’s communications with Conservative Central Office.

    Great Web-site
    Best wishes

    The BHA had stands at all three party conferences this year

  10. Margaret Nelson says:

    I’ve received the following email from Mr Gummer today:

    Dear Mrs Nelson

    I am sad that the account should be further elaborated by yet new allegations. I am interested that Humanists should be so concerned at any dissent and should be so thin skinned as to characterise disagreement by such allegations. I hope that you will make sure that humanists are aware that some who disagree with them are not going to be silenced by this kind of misrepresentation but are happy to accept that members of political parties can hold every kind of religious view. It happens, nonetheless, to be true that the Conservative Party has strong Christian roots and owes little to the Humanist Organisation.

    John Gummer

    To which I replied:

    Dear Mr Gummer,

    It’s disingenuous to suggest that we are merely “concerned at any dissent”, when the strength of your “dissent” was actually so offensive. Had you made similar comments (as I’ve already said) about Muslims, for example, it would have been front-page news. It seems that we are expected to be immune from insult or offence, while many religious organisations are hypersensitive. I’m not bothered by what you or anyone else might privately think about me or Humanists in general (my skin is as tough as the proverbial rhinoceros), however, your little outburst betrayed both ignorance and prejudice, which while not that unusual among politicians, is of interest to your constituents.

    Of course we accept that politicians come from all sorts of religious and non-religious backgrounds. That has nothing to do with it. Nor does the Conservative Party’s “strong Christian roots”. As for owing anything to the “Humanist Organisation”; well, for one thing, we paid good money to go and be insulted; for another, you’ve been elected with Humanist votes.

    If you still claim to have been misrepresented, perhaps you could offer some evidence for this? Otherwise, an apology would be acceptable.

    Margaret Nelson

  11. Margaret Nelson says:

    I talked about this with Rachel Sloan on BBC Suffolk today. John Gummer sent a statement – I’ve asked for a copy.

    A listener has emailed:

    Hi, I have been listening to Margaret Nelson on BBC Radio Suffolk. I am amazed how two-faced John Gummer is.

    He used to be on the Church of England Synod, and when they introduced female vicars, he stamped his feet and became a Catholic overnight …

    How can somebody do that and then find fault with Humanists.

  12. Margaret Nelson says:

    This is the statement John Gummer sent the BBC, which was read on Rachel Sloane’s programme:

    I am sorry that the Humanists should take this uncivilised approach to a serious historic comment. I merely pointed to the Christian basis of the Conservative Party and regretted their antagonism to it. To suggest that this meant I “hated” humanists and to refuse to withdraw their allegations does suggest an unattractive extremism which does not put them in a very good light.

  13. Margaret Nelson says:

    He’s not worth it.

  14. Linn Barringer says:

    Unattractive extremism?
    Did you say UNATTRACTIVE EXTREMISM Mr Gummer?
    That strange sound you hear is me tearing out my hair in frustration at the thick-skinned, two-faced, weasel-wording, pot-and-kettle… aaaaarrrgh again!
    Maybe he’s been eating too many BSE-burgers.
    OK, yeah, I know, that’s a cheap shot.
    But only because it’s totally justified.

  15. zelaurian says:

    I must renew my Politic-speak / English-language dictionary.
    When I heard Mr Gummer say (with impressive passion and conviction) … ‘The British Humanist Association had no right to be at the Conservative Party Conference’ and ‘The Conservative Party is and always has been a Christian Party’ I (naively) understood that to mean the British Humanist Association had no right to be at the Conservative Party Conference and The Conservative Party is and always has been a Christian Party.

    I thank him for now explaining that his entirely benign intention was merely a serious historic comment to provide a succinct précis on the religious affiliations and antecedence of the particular political party to which he belongs.

    I am still (however) a bit confused about how the presence of a BHA stand at the conference; campaigning on behalf of the UK’s millions of non-religious citizens for an end to religious privilege & discrimination based on religious beliefs, can be perceived as an attack on any one particular faith or that merely being there was in any way antagonistic when all that is asked is that people should not be advantaged or disadvantaged by whichever superstitious views they do or do not hold.
    I would have thought that any democratically minded politician would find little about such a plea for equality with which to take issue … but then again, I did say I was naive!
    In fact, the only ones who possibly could feel threatened by the presence of people having the temerity to suggest such an outrageous policy as equality would be those who were aware that their particular religion would loose advantages they have enjoyed (and abused) for centuries. Or that people of no faith at all, and those lesser faiths, would come to enjoy equal footing.
    Now that would be a definition of ‘an unattractive extremism that might not put someone in a very good light’ that I’m sure Mr Gummer and I could both agree on … oops, there’s that naivety again (sorry).

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