Saturday, 11 June 2016

Conversion to the Diversity Ideology

Part 2 - Justification of Hypotheses


In a previous blog [1] I outlined a system dynamics model of how Christianity is losing ground to a new movement in society, which I nicknamed the “Diversity Ideology”. I chose this name because people in the movement affirm a wide diversity of individual practices and lifestyles, especially in the area of sexual behaviour, where its most public manifestation is felt.

Christianity and the Diversity ideology are competing for the public space – the media, public bodies, private organisations and companies etc. As church declines, it has less influence in this public space, thus leaving areas open to new ideas, the neutral space, figure 1. Thus a new ideology has more opportunity to influence these public bodies. Diversity is doing this through activists that champion the notions of equality, diversity, tolerance and inclusion; through the various LGBT+ agencies and through humanist and atheistic groups. Though not necessarily anti-Christian, it is opposed to the “Christianity of the past”. Thus the more liberal Christian groups can be found in its midst, as well as atheists looking to discredit all religion, especially the “established” one in the West.
Figure 1: Competition Between Christianity & Diversity Ideology for Public Space

The model is only at the dynamical hypothesis stage, and still needs further assumptions for a full implementation. Before doing this I would like to provide evidence to support the hypotheses. Specifically I will provide examples where public bodies, or individuals in the public space, display their conversion to the Diversity ideology.

Ideological Change

When people change their ideology they do at least four things:

A. Rewrite history to fit the new ideology. I dealt with this in a previous blog [2]

B. Public confession of past failures. Either themselves, or those they no longer identify with.

C. Adoption of badges of new identity. It may be just for a moment, like baptism, or permanent, like a dress code.

D. Demonisation of those who have not changed. They split the population in to the enlightened (the new ideology) and the unenlightened (the ones they used to belong to).

I am not saying any of these are wrong. Christianity has all four in varying degrees, just read Paul the apostle’s account of his conversion! My point is that these are true of conversion to all ideologies, including humanist ones. Also they are true of organisational conversion, not just individual.


Ideological Change of Public Bodies

Many countries have already indicated their conversion to the Diversity ideology either by passing legislation on same-sex marriage, or in President Obama’s case lighting up the White House in rainbow colours. However the state government of Victoria in Australia went much further when premier Daniel Andrews issued a long public apology for the past laws that criminalised homosexual behaviour [3].

He apologised for specific events in 1937, 1967 and 1976, indicating the State’s conversion (B) from the morals of the past to those of Diversity. He further re-wrote history (A) by saying: “It is easy for us to condemn their bigotry. But the law required them to be bigoted.” I suspect the people of the past were just as opposed to bigotry as people are now, what has changed is the ideological and moral framework by which bigotry is measured.

There was less evidence of a badge of identity (C) in this speech but the statement: “Here in Victoria equality is not negotiable” comes close. The identifier “equality” is used, but in the restricted sense of the Diversity ideology as, presumably equality of things such as income and housing is not included. Finally the demonization of the unenlightened (D) is seen such phrases as: “Tomorrow, a trans woman will be turned away from a job interview”, and him indicating: “there is still much to do”.

The rights and wrongs of what he said are not relevant here. This is an example of an advocate of the Diversity ideology using his position to influence the public space with the conversion experience of a government. This in turn influences the number of people who align themselves with the new ideology, loop Rd2 in figure 2, and increases the amount of public space with the new ideological sympathies, loop Bd3, figure2 (and 1).
Figure 2: Causal Loop Diagram of the Diversity Ideology Sector

Ideological Change of Influential Individuals

There have been two recent cases in the UK where individual politicians have had to publically express their conversion experience to Diversity. From 2014 onwards education secretary, Nicky Morgan has been confessing (B) her mistake in voting against same-sex marriage in 2013 [4]. She has spoken at the Pink News awards in the House of Commons and at Stonewall as her “badge” of identification (C) [5]. She sort of rewrote history when she claimed she voted against the legislation because of the pressure from constituents (A). When she indicated some people (like her) were slow to take up these things she (gently) put down the unenlightened (D).

Likewise Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron had to undergo something of a public climb-down when he became leader of a party closely identified with Diversity [6]. Both Farron and Morgan are committed Christians [7] and their public identification with Diversity, over their Christian beliefs, weakens Christianity in the public space, loop Bc3, figure 1, while strengthening Diversity’s public profile loop Bd3.

Of course anyone with the slightest bit of compassion would feel really sorry for them for what they had to go through to stay in public life. Public confessions are humiliating, and in the past churches have also been responsible for inflicting these on others, usually on Christians who differ from them. Sadly compassion is not a strong feature of an ideology at the zealot stage.
  

Ideological Change within Churches

The ideological competition between Christianity and Diversity occurs within the Christian church itself. At first glance this seems confusing as it is all called “Christian”. For the purposes of the model the word “Christian” means that part of the church that believes what it has received from the past is fixed and cannot be changed. This is usually divine revelation – the Bible – as in the Evangelical case. But for some it may mean traditions set centuries ago which are not to be changed, e.g. the Anglo-Catholic view of male-only priesthood.

On the other hand the part of the church aligned to the Diversity ideology is the more liberal part, though that includes some Evangelicals who are liberalising.  The key difference is that like in humanism, beliefs are determined by people, not by a fixed cannon.

The Church in Wales is an Anglican church, and like many UK denominations, is indicating decline to extinction [8].  Last year the attempts by its leadership to introduced same-sex marriage were stalled by significant opposition from diocesan representatives. Since then the bishops of the church have issued a pastoral statement that indicates the Church’s conversion to Diversity in the public sphere [9].

Notably there was the display of the rainbow flag as the identification badge (C).  The unenlightened laggards within the church are subtly discredited with statements like  “the Church is not yet ready to accept same-sex marriage” (D). There is a general confession of, and apology for, past damage the church has done to gay people (B). Though the actual offences, and the people involved, are not identified, leaving the reader to re-write history for themselves in order to make sense of the statement (A).

Though the Bishops said they could not proceed with same-sex blessings, they nevertheless produced prayers to be used at same-sex celebrations that omitted the word “bless”. They could take this decision on their own authority without need for corporate ratification. This shows how the influence of the public space by the Diversity ideology is top down, not bottom-up. That is, it is activists working within the controlling elite, or the leaders themselves, shifting the public space away from Christianity towards Diversity, loop Rd2, figure 2.

By contrast religions like Christianity, renewal movements and revivals are bottom up. That is enthusiasts within the church convert individuals through person-to-person contact, loop Rc1, figure 1. These movements have less patronage by their elites, and thus less growth through activism in the public space, loop Rc2. The influence on the public space is more long-term, which of course has been the position of Christianity in the West for some time.
 
Figure 3: Causal Loop Diagram of Church & Christianity

A similar top-down conversion in the public space occurred yesterday when the Scottish Episcopal Church voted to adopt same-sex marriage, with the final decision to be made in 2017 [10]. This strategy has been ongoing for some years, and it shows how with a long drawn-out conversion, an organisation can increase its ideological influence on the public.

The numerical future of the Church in Wales and the Scottish Episcopal church is bleak [8], with or without same-sex marriage. But the public conversions of both bodies as organisations (not individuals!) to the Diversity ideology shows how even small organisations can have a big influence on the public space, provided they back the growing side. Had either church issued negative statements with regard to LGBT+ issues it is doubtful they would have been reported. Diversity has easier access to the public space than conservative Christianity; loop Rd2 is stronger than Rc2, figures 2 and 3.

Conclusion

Hopefully these examples are enough to show how the feedback loops in the causal loop diagrams relate to ideological conversion in the public space. It does mean for conservative Christians the public space is now a very uncomfortable place. A Christian who publically speaks what they believe will feel a bit like the North Korean who stops clapping first in a party meeting with Kim Jong-un! All eyes are on them – they are an embarrassment as they are not politically correct. If not repentant they can quickly face the wrath of the Diversity champions, who will exclude anyone that challenges their inclusive ideology.

But as I said before these situations often display the Christian church at its best. It forces believers to seek conversions within their network, under the radar of the public space, loop Rc1, figure 3, relying on the Holy Spirit rather than popularity. Indeed however unpleasant public ridicule, it can help weaken the internal institutionalism that has stifled Christianity for so long (loop Bc2), as true believers seek like-minded Christians for comfort, rather than their institutionalised and often compromised denominations.

Of course as Christians we are in good company as it was in the public space that the political and religious elite tried to catch Jesus out. They never did, and I really wish I could come up with the responses He did! But He did promise the Holy Spirit would help us speak. And of course we know what they did to Him! And He never said we would not suffer for our faith.

I will return to this model in due course and attempt to turn it into a simulation.


References

[1] The New Ideology


[2] Rewriting History


[3] 'Unimaginably wrong': Victoria's gay conviction apology speech in full. The Guardian, 24/5/16.


[4] Nicky Morgan changes her mind on gay marriage. The Guardian, 29/10/14.


[5] Nicky Morgan heckled at PinkNews Awards as she explains why she now backs same-sex marriage. Pink News, 30/10/14.

Equalities Minister Nicky Morgan, who voted against same-sex marriage, hits out at gay rights campaigners for their 'vitriol'.  The Independent, 10/7/15.


[6] For three different views Tim Farron’s public ideological “trial” see:
Tim Farron labelled ‘illiberal democrat’ over gay rights history. Pink News, 17/7/15.

Tim Farron: falling foul of the New Inquisition. Spiked, 22/7/15.

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron refuses to say if gay acts are a sin. Premier, 3/2/16.


[7] New education secretary Nicky Morgan on her Christian faith. Christian Today, 15/7/14.


[8] Anglican Church Decline in the West – The Data

Anglican Church Decline – Possible Reasons


[9] Same-sex marriage statement. Church in Wales, 6/4/16.


[10] Scottish Episcopal Church votes in favour of same-sex marriage, Christian Today, 10/6/16.


Friday, 3 June 2016

The New Ideology

Part 1 - Model Construction


In the last two blogs I have referred to the “New Ideology”, an ideology which is gradually taking the place of Christianity in Western societies [1], and causing division in the Christian church [2]. So what is this ideology, and can its spread be modelled?

First some clarification of terminology. By “ideology” I mean the set of beliefs, rules and behavioural norms held by a group of people [3]. They may subscribe to them by choice, inherit them from birth, or be compelled to follow them by some authority. For example communism is a political ideology; vegetarianism is a lifestyle ideology. A religion like Christianity can be an ideology if people follow its norms, without necessarily having a religious belief. Thus a country can be Christian even if most of the population neither attend church nor believe in God. For most of history most people did not attend church in the UK, let alone have saving faith, but enough held to a Christian ideology to make it the accepted standard of British society.

Different ideologies can sit side-by-side if they embrace different spheres of life. But when they overlap and contradict each other there can be competition and conflict. History can be viewed as a series of coexisting and competing ideologies – sometimes one supplanting another. So communism supplanted imperialism, Christianity replaced paganism, and the anti-smoking lifestyle has almost, but not quite, squeezed out the smokers [4]!

New Ideology Defined

Until recently Christianity was the accepted ideology in the West, some countries, such as the UK, more than others, e.g. France. However as Christian practice has declined it has left a void that is now being filled by a new ideology, atheistic in origin, and humanist in practice. The new ideology is humanist because its ethical truth is determined by people, rather than revealed by God. We get to choose what is right and wrong behaviour, both collectively, and in the current outworking of this ideology, individually [5].

As with any new ideology naming it is a problem. Politicians often use the label “liberal progressive”, but as both these words have other connotations I will avoid both [6]. Instead I will plump for “Diversity Ideology”, as its chief manifestation is that a whole range of beliefs, behaviours and lifestyle expressions are acceptable. If it is right for you, it is right and must be tolerated; and the people who practice it treated as equals and fully included in all areas of society, however diverse the people are. Hence the ideology’s four defining words: equality, tolerance, inclusion and diversity.

These defining words can be found just about everywhere in the public space, such as government, education, the voluntary sector and media [7]. Of course the ideology has an inbuilt contradiction as advocates often say they will not tolerate anyone who does not adhere to these principles; the danger of basing an ideology on words whose meanings are not clarified. But that is the stuff of ideology. Just think how many problems occur in Christianity over the meaning and use of words [8]!

The Diversity Ideology often manifests itself in the promotion of sexual diversity, the lifestyle ideologies of the LGBT+ families. Specifically the ideology promotes the gay lifestyle with the continuing adoption of same-sex marriage, and transgender issues with the current “bathroom wars” in the USA [9]. But I think the ideology is much larger than these sexual behaviours and existed before they became current. It has been competing with Christianity in the public space for some generations and has perhaps latched on to LGBT+ issues because this is a clear battlefield between truth revealed by God and truth determined by people.

Anyway the name “Diversity” will serve the purpose of model construction for now. It is not a pejorative name. It fits in with the rainbow flag, a common symbol of the ideology. It also describes a similar movement within the first century Corinthian church, influenced by the culture of its day, whose slogan was “all things are lawful for me”. Paul, the apostle, has to correct this, urging them to flee sexual immorality (1 Cor 6:12).   

Model of Ideological Competition

What I would like to do is model the competition between the Diversity Ideology and Christianity. Part of this competition occurs in the public space, by which I mean the government, business world, voluntary organisations and media, some of which I have already referred to [7].  The public space may well be within a church itself, where the liberal wing of the church competes with the evangelical and/or traditional wings. 

Christianity

Firstly, a model of the rise and fall of the Christian church. This is given as a causal loop diagram (CLD) which expresses hypotheses without taking it as far as a simulation, figure 1. The primary growth mechanism of the church is through the actions of its people, reinforcing loop Rc1. The more people in church, the more conversions, thus more people in church [10]. Christianity has often grown as a mass movement, as in its first few centuries and the 18th-19th century revivals.

Figure 1: Causal Loop Diagram of Church & Christianity

Growth is limited by institutionalism, loop Bc2, which reduces the conversion rate through the rising organisational and spiritual lethargy of a growing church. Likewise people leave the church, loop Bc1. Growth changes to decline when the dwindling conversions fall below the leaving rate. A full explanation of this institutional model of church growth is given elsewhere [11].

To examine the rise of Christianity as an ideology then the impact of church adherence on the public space needs to be considered. As the church increases, more of the public space becomes aligned with Christianity, part of loop Rc2.  The rise of Christian things in the public space could be taken as a measure of the rise of Christianity as an ideology [12]. A past example of this is Christianity in the Roman Empire, where Christians eventually forced their way into a pagan public space by sheer weight of numbers. This is a bottom-up form of cultural change, i.e. one due mainly to grass-roots movements of ordinary people.

There is potential for feedback here as an increasingly Christian public space may well make conversions easier, no longer does the new convert need to renounce their society. However as a means of conversion it is now much weaker than it was as the public space that was Christian by conviction has become Christian by tradition only.

The final piece of the model is the neutral public space, that is the organisations etc. that were not strongly attached to either the Christian ideology or to its competitor. When Christianity was replacing Paganism much of the Pagan public space had become nominal, the neutral space in those days – it was here that Christians were able to gain public influence. Now as Christianity declines, its presence in the public space is declining leaving it neutral, i.e. Christian by tradition only. This is a balancing loop, Bc3, as increasing Christianity decreases the neutral, but as neutral declines there is less of it to be influenced. More on this in a minute.

Diversity

The model of the rise of the Diversity Ideology is a parallel model to the Christian one, other than the grass roots reinforcing loop, the conversion by individuals on the ground, is missing, figure 2. Instead all its recruitment is through its influence in the public space, loop Rd2. The reasoning behind this assumption is that religions like Christianity have massive grass-roots participation. Christians meet weekly for worship and teaching and thus reinforce each other and engage in recruitment from the local base.

Figure 2: Causal Loop Diagram of the Diversity Ideology Sector

By contrast a lifestyle ideology such as the Diversity one has no such regular local meeting places. There are pressure groups such as the British Humanist Society and a variety of LBGT+ organisations, but active participation in these is only a small minority of those who hold or practice the beliefs. Thus the Diversity Ideology, like humanism and atheism, is top-down in its influence, not bottom-up. Rather than individuals attempting to convert other individuals to the cause, there is instead a core of committed activists seeking to change society. Individuals may then be changed, through the changes in society. But societal shift, as measured by the public space, is more important to them than grass-roots recruitment. A good rally or march is always encouraging to them, but these are occasional, not weekly and relational.


Public Space

The interaction between Christianity and the Diversity Ideology is in the public space, the arena of ideological change. Public spaces tend to be neutral unless there is some effort by an ideology to influence it. This is the natural tendency to apathy, and the loops connected with this are omitted. Connecting loops Bc3 and Bd3 from figures 1 and 2 respectively, gives a systems archetype called success to the successful, figure 3.
Figure 3: Competition Between Christianity & Diversity Ideology for Public Space

Although this subsystem consists of two balancing loops its overall effect is reinforcing, seen by tracing the figure of eight in the diagram. For example Diversity increases, thus the neutral reduces, thus Christianity reduces (+ means same way), thus releasing more public space from which Diversity, currently the stronger influence of the two, can fill.

A Test of the Model

The subsystem in figure 3 can be implemented and run to test its hypotheses. The numbers advocating the Diversity Ideology is allowed to rise from the late 1950s. The Christian church is assumed to be declining throughout. Initially the Christian public space is declining, with the neutral space increasing, figure 4. Once the influence of the Diversity Ideology starts, the neutral space falls, causing the Christian place in the public space to decline faster. Diversity has exploited the weakness of Christianity in society, and because Church numbers are declining, there is little chance for Christianity to recover. By this century Diversity is occupying more of the public space than the Christian [13].

Figure 4: Results of Ideological Competition


The levels and the dates are up for debate, but the subsystem is behaving as intended.

How Can the Christian Church Compete?

The key for the church is the person-to-person conversion loop Rc1, figure 1; the word of mouth mechanism that is natural to Church, but absent in non-religious ideologies with its relative lack of regular grass-roots participation [14].  Church has declined because this loop has become weak through institutionalism, lack of belief, and lack of seeking the Holy Spirit. But the model in figure 1 represents only the average for the whole church. Although most of the pre-1900 denominations are heading for extinction, there are smaller denominations, such as Pentecostal, and individual denominational congregations, for which this loop is stronger. These are the parts of the church that convert people. The alive part!

Thus as long as the alive part of the church persists in conversion and discipleship it will currently take the place of the older denominations, and the church as a whole will start growing again. Thus the church will again be able to have a growing influence in the public space, when opportunity returns.

By contrast the time will come when the Diversity Ideology will have been hit by the same institutionalism and complacency that now affects most of the Christian church. This is same mechanism that led to the decline of communism, Paganism, and just about every other ideology of the past. A church that holds on, though small, will in the future be able displace Diversity, or whatever form Humanism takes then, from the public space.

Some final points to note:
  1.  Church may have to survive a generation or more as a vilified minority in a hostile society. This has been the case in the past, and is currently the case in many places in the world. Periods like this often display Christianity at its best.
  2.  Church will get much smaller, and many denominations will go under, before growth returns.
  3. Any Christian influence in the public space in the future may look very different to that of the past, which was connected with European empires and national religions. Church is trying to bring Christ to people, not reconstruct the countries we had in the past.
  4.  Conversion, discipleship and revival are non-negotiable. Without these the church cannot recover, public space or not.
In the next blog I will look at a number of contemporary situations that help support the model. This is a model in development so expect it to change as it goes along.

References and Notes

[1] Rewriting History


[2] Where to Plant a Church? Big City, Small Town, or Rural?


[3] For a simple definition see:
For a more comprehensive view see Wikipedia and references therein:


[4] Is “smoking” a lifestyle ideology?  Perhaps it has become one because the anti-smoking lobby has pursued its aims with such puritanical zeal that smokers have become an almost persecuted minority in the West. I am not defending smoking, which has been conclusively proved to be unhealthy.  But I suspect the ideological approach of anti-smoking campaigns, demonising smokers in the public space, has created an opposite reaction in the smoking community, raising its ideological status.


[5] I would rather not call it the “Humanist Ideology”. There are potentially a number of humanist ideologies, and I know some older humanists who do not subscribe to the current Diversity Ideology. Neither would I call it a secular ideology as both humanism and the diversity beliefs are held by many in the Christian church who have liberal views on the authority of the Bible. Humanism is not contrary to belief in a God, despite the stance of the British Humanist Association. Humanism is about the human source of authority with regard to truth. The liberal/conservative battle within the Christian church is ultimately based on whether the source of authority is determined by people now, or fixed in either divine revelation, or handed-down tradition, depending on the brand of conservatism.  It is a Christian version of the humanism versus revelation conflict.


[6] I prefer not to use the description “liberal progressive”. The word liberal is capable of a number of meanings: open to new ideas; broadness of viewpoint; a political party; advocate of freedom. I suspect liberal progressive people are much narrower in scope than these other definitions suggest. Progressive implies there is always a sense of change. But the new ideology has specific targets, which if achieved it may well stay at, thus becoming conservative!  I prefer to name the ideology by what it is trying to achieve, not its sense of motion.


[7] Examples:
Government: Department of Work and Pensions: Equality and Diversity
Adherence to their equality and diversity principles is built in to their performance monitoring and management.

Education: Sussex Students’ Union
They state: “Any groups or individuals contravening this equality and diversity policy will be subject to disciplinary procedures and patronage and support will be reviewed.” That is, it is possible to be excluded and not tolerated even under an inclusion and tolerance policy. This happens because the words have meanings more limited than they first appear.

Charities: Action for Children
They have diversity and inclusion champions. I guess you could call these a type of activist, or guardians, within the Diversity Ideology.

Media: Huffington Post: Equality, Diversity, Inclusion: The Social Values of Shakespeare
An example of an ideology rewriting history to justify their beliefs, see [1].

International Affairs: Creating an Inclusive Society: Practical Strategies to Promote Social Integration. The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
An example of elements of the Diversity Ideology, in the context of combating world poverty, but without reference to sexual diversity. In this form it is far less controversial. But its roots are humanist, and as it thus has no religious text to justify its stance, it develops its own ideological position as a substitute.


[8] Words are often used to fight battles of beliefs and ideology within Christianity, leading to more and more refined definitions of those words. Consider trinity, real presence, justification, inerrancy, and baptism with the Spirit. I could go on! Sometimes the battle is about subtly changing the meaning of the word so that they can end up meaning something different to the original.  Sometimes the word represents a real divide in beliefs, sometimes they are an excuse for division over other issues.


[9] It is almost impossible to track down a neutral and clear account of the wars being waged in the USA over the use of bathrooms (aka public toilets) by transgender people. This one at least gives the extent to which the clash of ideologies has entered the public space:


[10] The reinforcing loop linking people to conversions is used in the institutional model of church growth being used here [11]. It is also used in the limited enthusiasm model of church growth, where only a limited number of people, the enthusiasts, are responsible for conversion, thus in the loop [13]. Dividing the church up into active and inactive members is more realistic, but unnecessarily complicated when outlining a bigger model as here. Such fine detail is left to the implementation or calibrations stages of a model.


[11] Institutionalism model is described in a blog:
and on the website:


[12] Other measures such public opinion or personal cultural alignment with Christianity will be deferred to a refined model.


[13] More people in the UK now identify as no religion than Christian. A possible cnsequence of the shift in balance in the public space. See Britain really is ceasing to be a Christian country, The Spectator, 28/5/16.

  
[14] The Limited Enthusiasm Model describes the growth of the church through person-to-person contact. It appears on the website:
and it described at a more popular level in: