If snowflake students really want ‘inclusivity’, that has to include the views of Jacob Rees-Mogg

Nowadays the easiest way to clear out a room is to admit to being religious. But we should praise Rees-Mogg for his no-nonsense authenticity, rather than demand that he never utter his views in public

Janet Street-Porter
Friday 08 September 2017 16:37
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Unless we develop and nourish the art of debate (and everyday conversation), democracy is doomed
Unless we develop and nourish the art of debate (and everyday conversation), democracy is doomed

What’s your guilty secret? In middle-class circles, it’s admitting you voted to leave the EU, according to leading academic Ruth Deech, who claims some of her pals in trendy Hampstead no longer speak to her.

Baroness Deech reckons that admitting support for Brexit is as brave as “coming out as gay in the 1950s”. Hardly – sadly, you’re not facing jail for chatting to David Davis on Hampstead Heath.

Going through daily life as a closeted Brexiteer might be socially challenging in some circles, but the biggest shame in modern society derives from confessing you live by a set of rules derived from religious teachings. Want to clear a room at any social gathering? Admit you believe in the afterlife, attend church and pray.

To make matters even worse, admit you are a practising Catholic or an evangelical Christian. Tick one or more of the above and people will rapidly find reasons to leave your airspace. At best, you will be considered eccentric; at worst, unfit to run the country or hold high office.

Does that sound extreme? Remember the fate of Tim Farron. It’s the dreaded D word – saying you’re devout means “I’m nuts and (therefore) potentially dangerous”. One step away from joining a band of Islamist plotters.

Jacob Rees-Mogg says he opposes abortion in all circumstances

Last week, Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg told a television interviewer he was completely opposed to abortion – even after rape or incest – because from the moment of conception, a child has a right to life. Rees-Mogg also refused to support gay marriage, adding he did not want to criticise anyone whose lives were different to his, but equally he did not want to divert from the historic teaching of the Catholic Church.

This honesty, which ought to be praised, has instead been singled out as a drawback, a reason not to consider Rees-Mogg as potential party leader, because his view are “out of step”.

Modern Britain is surely a tolerant place – where people of all ages, backgrounds, sexual orientations and beliefs live in close proximity. Holding views that are outside the mainstream (now there are more non-believers than believers in the UK, according to the latest statistics) ought not to be a sign of weakness or inadequacy.

At universities, a worrying trend has developed, with namby-pamby “snowflake” students demanding “safe spaces”, wanting anyone with a disagreeable or extreme viewpoint banned or silenced. Unless we develop and nourish the art of debate (and everyday conversation), democracy is doomed.

The last thing any government needs are beige porridge-people, shallow thinkers who all broadly agree on the same issues, who are “inclusive” from dawn to dusk and never step out of line. If you can’t argue and debate, how do you develop as a human being?

Jacob Rees-Mogg says Britain could slash regulation standards

Jacob Rees-Mogg’s views about abortion and gay marriage are not mine – but his frankness and no-nonsense honesty are to be applauded. We live in a democracy, and the chances of any prime minister (Catholic, Muslim or atheist) being able to institute pogroms and sweeping dictats, North Korea-style, are zero – yet we cling to the antediluvian concept that personal belief can only be acceptable if you belong to that fast-diminishing group (only 15 per cent of Brits admit to being members) called the Church of England.

Yes, the sect which is permanently at war with itself, whose African bishops vehemently oppose gay marriage and abortion. A church being split into two by ultra-conservatives who have drawn up advanced plans for a separate organisation and their own bishops.

Theresa May’s father was an Anglican clergyman – did that really enhance her appeal to party members? If so, surely Rees-Mogg deserves the same respect. I have deeply religious Catholic friends who attend mass daily. Other friends pray to Mecca, some meditate. Some claim they are “living in the moment” and that when you die, you “pass” – “BUT WHERE?” I want to scream.

According to the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s beliefs are “extremely out of touch” with public opinion, yet London has a Muslim Mayor (who could lead his party), and Prince Harry will probably marry a divorced woman who attended a Catholic school.

Some people worship avocados and “clean eating”, Rees-Mogg believes in the sanctity of life. There’s room for all in a civilised society. One of the most overused words in modern Britain – “inclusive” – has come to mean anything but. Belief is acceptable, as long as it’s the right kind.

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