Labour deselect Methodist councillor for refusing to canvass on a Sunday
You would think Labour would laud and honour such a good and faithful servant.
But Cllr Reynolds has been deselected as a candidate in the forthcoming local elections not because he objected to canvassing on the Sabbath on grounds of religious conscience, but because, as a pastor of his church, he is obliged to tend for his flock on Sundays and does not possess that particularly-useful divine attribute of ubiquity: the ability to be simultaneously here, there and everywhere.
A Conservative candidate for the forthcoming elections in Merton (Miles Windsor) has delved a little into the story:
“What I have heard, from reliable sources, is deeply concerning. Siobhain McDonagh, Labour MP for Mitcham and Morden, is well-known for her Sunday morning canvassing. That’s fine of course, if a little irritating for those residents whose Sunday mornings are sacred for one reason or the other. If she doesn’t maintain a personal faith and wish to attend church on Sundays that is her business. ‘So what’s the problem?’, I hear you ask.
“Cllr Reynolds is the pastor of a church and leads his congregation on Sunday mornings. Thus, he asked to be exempted from canvassing on a Sunday. A reasonable request most would think, especially as it isn’t just his beliefs that would be conflicted (although this would be reason enough) but also as it is his job. Siobhan wouldn’t agree it would seem. He has been de-selected.”
Cllr Reynolds is Lay Pastor at Tooting Methodist Church, and Cranmer has never heard of anything so outrageous as a Christian minister being deselected as a political candidate because his church commitments prevent him from carrying out political activity on a Sunday. This is one of the most outrageous anti-Christian manifestations of this appallingly oppressive and illiberal Labour Government.
And God knows there have been quite a few.
In many ways, Siobhain McDonagh is the immanent incarnation of the imminent persecution of all believers. It beggars belief that the political movement which had its roots in Methodism would reject a Methodist minister simply for putting his faithfulness to God over political service.
What on earth does the Christian Socialist Movement think about this?
Do they even care?
It is, of course, perfectly possible for Christians with church commitments to fulfil their political obligations on other days of the week. But no compromise was possible for Ms McDonagh. In the pursuit of her
Cranmer would bet his charred right arm that Labour would never have dared to deselect an imam who refused to canvass on a Friday while led the ummah in their essential duas.
The Methodists of Tooting say of themselves:
Who are we? A community of people, young and old, from many backgrounds and cultures, who believe and serve Jesus in varying degrees. We exist for ourselves - that's why we encourage and support one another in daily living. We also exist for those who don't belong to any church - that's why you are assured a caring welcome!
Labour also welcomes those from all backgrounds and cultures (especially in key marginals), but if your background is Christian and your culture requires you to put God first on Sundays, you’re not so welcome. Siobhain McDonagh exists solely for herself; she evidently couldn’t give a fig for those who belong to any church, and if you do, please don’t expect any kind of welcome from Labour.
Tooting Methodists do not claim to be better than anyone else. But we become better people as we grow in our understanding of God's pardon and love.
It seems the Mitcham & Morden Labour Party claim to be better than Christians, or at least better than those Christians who place church attendance on a Sunday above political campaigning. Doubtless Siobhain McDonagh could not possibly become a better person: she understands nothing of the love Labour’s lost.
We sing rather well, put passion in our preaching, and seek both to hate sin and to love fellow-sinners. We invite you to come and give us a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Labour no longer has music in its soul: they have passion, but their politics are perverted. They encourage sin by legislating to make it compulsory. The nation gave them a try in 1997; they ventured again in 2001, and again in 2005.
And gained nothing.
Cllr Reynolds has learned that he may not serve two masters. Labour has arrogated to itself a status above that of God, and they will not permit their candidates to serve Jesus to any degree: Labour will not tolerate idols.
His Grace has been informed that the official reason for Cllr Reynold’s despicable treatment is that he ‘could not fulfil his obligations’.
Perhaps it is time for the Christian voters of Mitcham and Morden to prevent Siobhain McDonagh from fulfilling hers in Parliament.
From the look of her, butter would not only melt, it would moulder and putrefy in her mouth. She has a website, of which she says: ‘It allows you to let me know your views and to find out what mine are and, importantly, what I'm doing about them.’
Well, we know what hers are. So Cranmer exhorts all of his readers and communicants to let Ms McDonagh know your views on this matter and, importantly, to ask her what she’s doing about them.
On her ‘About’ page she boasts that she holds ‘regular receptions at the House of Commons to honour the work of groups such as GPs, charities, churches, Residents Associations, School Governors, foster carers and the volunteers who run the Little League’.
Since she professes to ‘honour’ the work of churches, perhaps she might host a reception for the loyal Cllr Reynolds and his caring and compassionate congregants.
She won’t, of course.
Not even on a Sunday.
Commenting last year in Parliament about increasing prejudice and incidences of discrimination against Christians, Harriet Harman said: “This is really just a matter of basic good practice and common sense. There is nothing in any law or guidance that requires people to act daft.”
Siobhain McDonagh and the Labour Party in Mitcham & Morden are acting daft.
His Grace has never in his life campaigned for a Labour candidate.
But there is a higher principle at stake here.
Perhaps we should begin a petition for Cllr Reynolds’ re-selection?
His Grace has received an email from Siobhain McDonagh MP, which he is happy to fisk:
I am Siobhain McDonagh, and I would like to confirm that this whole story is completely untrue. It is also deeply offensive and should therefore be removed.
The 'whole story' is not 'completely untrue'. It has been corroborated by members of your own local association. If you find it 'deeply offensive', His Grace might apologise, except that the causing of offence is not gratuitous and neither is it an adequate reason for the post to be removed.
Most offensively, it suggests I am anti-religion. Anyone who knows anything about me would be aware I am a Catholic who goes to church assiduously every Sunday. I am very angry that you have portrayed me as conspiring against anyone for their beliefs or religious observances. What you have written about me is hurtful and 100% false. It is hard to believe anybody with any true religious belief could be so nasty as you have been in your blog, or could so deliberately damage another person’s reputation without checking any facts.
Ms McDonagh, there is nothing in this post at all which suggests that you are 'anti-religion'. You are, however, a member of the most anti-Christian government we have had in three centuries. It is good to hear that you go to church assiduously on Sundays. However, His Grace assures you that your local party workers frown upon those who are 'unable to fulfil their obligations' with regard to the forthcoming elections, and that appears to include Sunday canvassing. Cllr Reynolds also prefers to be at church on a Sunday. Your local party, however, has suggested that this is not good enough as it indicates a 'lack of commitment' to the cause. There is no suggestion of a 'conspiracy' on your part, as you aver. Your local party workers are clearly intent on canvassing on Sundays for Labour councillors and for you. It appears to be a condition of (re)selection that candidates are obliged to fulfil this requirement. You may be unaware of this, but you should make it your business to find out what your party workers are being forced to do in your name. Perhaps, before you fire off shrill emails, it would help if you delved a little behind what your local party chairman might be telling you.
Your source is utterly unreliable. He cannot even spell my name correctly. This should have been a clue.
Well, His Grace did spell your name correctly, thereby correcting his source. If, however, care over such trivia is the means by which you determine veracity, the fact that His Grace both corrected Mr Windsor's spelling of your name and spelt it correctly throughout his article ought to give you 'a clue' about the reliability of the information.
Indeed, the story is completely untrue. To be clear, the rules of the Labour Party expressly forbid exclusion on religious grounds, and neither can any individual veto anyone else from standing. In any case, in the fact of this case, Cllr Reynolds has never been excluded from standing, and his religious beliefs and commitments never arose during the selection process. This wouldn’t have been allowed anyway. The simple truth is that, while they praised Cllr Reynolds for his past efforts as a Councillor, local Labour Party members ultimately chose other candidates. And at all stages it is Labour Party members who choose who they want their candidates to be, not MPs, with the decision made by secret ballot. But since the source of this story seems to have been a Conservative candidate, he wouldn't know that.
Unfortunately, you are repeating yourself. Simply to state that something is untrue does not make it so, notwithstanding that it appears to be sufficient for Labour politicians. We all know what 'the rules' say, and yet Harriet Harman is fully aware that these 'rules' against discrimination appear to apply to every religion except Christianity. You appear to believe that because something was not made overt (by straightforward question or written statement) that it could not possibly be so. Labour Party members chose other candidates, as is their right. But you must be aware that cabals of councillors (as many local associations become, including selection panels) can (and do) have their own agendas, and can (and do) remove any candidate they wish under a false pretext of, say, being unable to fulfil his or her obligations.
This whole story is politically motivated smearing, with no bearing in truth whatsoever, and you should take it down. It is completely untrue, causes great offence to the many Christian Labour activists who give up so much of their time to help their communities, and should be of great embarrassment to you.
His Grace has a little more integrity than you suggest, though he fully understands why you might find this story disturbing. However, your hyperbole undermines your argument. The story most definitely does have a 'bearing in truth', and it will not be taken down unless Cllr Reynolds requests for His Grace to do so. And to play the 'great offence to Labour Christians' card is utterly laughable. Your entire programme of government has been of one offence against Christians heaped upon another. One wonders how, as 'a Catholic who goes to church assiduously every Sunday', you square the teachings of your church and recent pronouncements by Pope Benedict with your profoundly anti-Christian, illiberal and oppressive programme of government. You have forced Roman Catholic adoption agencies to close. What did you do to prevent that, apart from go to Mass on a Sunday? You are about to force all Roman Catholic schools to tell pupils how and where they may procure an abortion. What did you do to prevent that, apart from go to Mass on a Sunday? You require that homosexuality be taught in a 'neutral' fashion, whatever that means. What did you do to prevent that, apart from go to Mass on a Sunday? Your party has legislated for fatherless children, animal-human chimeras, more research on embryos and refused to countenance a reduction in the upper limit for abortion. Going to church, however assiduously, is no longer evidence of spiritual regeneration.
It is very upsetting to be accused of anti-religious bigotry, and I hope you will be brave enough to apologise for airing this untrue story and for portraying me in the way you have. I also hope that you will retract the accusations completely so that they are not continuously repeated on other blogs or elsewhere.
Upsetting to be accused of bigotry? Yes, it most certainly is, as well His Grace knows. The problem is that Labour freely accuse anyone who objects to the teaching of homosexuality in schools as homophobic; if you object to the abundant provision of abortion you are sexist or misogynist; if you want adoption agencies to give children to heterosexual couples, you are bigoted; if you breathe a word of concern about all students (including Sikhs) being offered only halal meat in schools, you are Islamophobic. You get the picture. And it is your party which has created this claustrophobic climate by constructing a hierarchy of ever-competing and mutually-exclusive 'rights'. And time and again it is being seen that the rights of the world and his dog trump the rights of Christians, whatever the 'rules' happen to say.
What did you do to prevent this, Ms McDonagh, apart from assiduously going to Mass every Sunday?
If you were to ask Cllr Reynolds, you might just find that he thinks one or two of his own Labour colleagues are 'bigoted'.
Blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
UPDATE 2 (17.15):
His Grace did have the courtesy to contact Ms McDonagh directly with further corroborative information. But he received this response:
Delivery has failed to these recipients or distribution lists:
The recipient's mailbox is full and can't accept messages now. Microsoft Exchange will not try to redeliver this message for you. Please try resending this message later, or contact the recipient directly.
An MP's mailbox is full?
Ekklesia have done a sterling job of defending Ms McDonagh. Apparently, she is a devout Roman Catholic, and the extent of her devotion is manifest in the fact that she introduced the Clergy Disqualification Ten Minute Rule Bill by which the Rev Chris Bryant was able to take his seat in the House of Commons.
In addition, they say of Cllr Reynolds:
A friend has just spoken to George Reynolds, the councillor concerned, and reports:
"Although he was a Methodist lay pastor and a local preacher, he has recently been ordained as a minister of the AME Church of Zion and no longer holds any office with the Methodist Church. In his opinion this is why he was deselected – he refuses to canvass at all on a Sunday – but no one has directly told him that this is the reason."
So he is not a Methodist any longer. His situation has changed, and there seems to be a lot of speculation going on.
Well, if the fact that he has recently changed denomination is deemed sufficient to deflect from the real issues raised by this post, it becomes corroborative evidence of its veracity. Methodist, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Anglican, Church of Zion, whatever. It is his opinion that he was deslected for refusing to canvass on a Sunday. For other faiths, that is usually sufficient for a court hearing.
Having just done a little research, it appears that Ekklesia have written and His Grace acquiesced in haste: the AME (African Methodist Episcopal) Church of Zion is a Methodist denomination. They have 'been in negotiations for many years to merge with the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church into a tentatively named Christian Methodist Episcopal Zion Church'.
Cllr Reynolds remains a Methodist, albeit of the African and Episcopal variety.