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.


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