Letter to MP regarding Syrian Airstrike Vote

My letter to local Conservative MP, Guto Bebb on the upcoming Syrian Airstrike Vote. I used a template from ‘stop the war,’ checked the info and heavy adapted the content. Was sent to my MP this morning at 8am.

Dear Guto Bebb, MP

cc. timgough.co/blog/

My name is Tim Gough. I’m a resident of Llandudno, 29 years old, a North Wales Charity Director and a Freelance Journalist.

I am writing to ask you to oppose the air strikes in Syria. The Prime Minister wants military action and is planning to bring a vote for such intervention to the House of Commons this Wednesday. His arguments – as I’m sure you’re aware – are shaky and leaky at best.

The terrible attacks which took place in Paris are being presented as a rationale for bombing. Yet there is no evidence that further bombing will defeat ISIS, and there is much evidence that it can make the situation worse. In fact, using the Prime Ministers reasoning we’d be safer at home by bombing cells in France and Belgium – a ludicrous idea!

We should reflect on the consequences of other such interventions. The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya continue, and terrorism has increased in all of those countries in the 14 years since they began. In fact paramilitary groups in those regions are galvanising increased support from locals and are more clearly banding together.

Further, there is no clear European Union plan in place to provide humanitarian assistance to the large number of refugees which will result from further bombing. In fact, the EU refugee plan is unravelling and the approach to refugees is highly fragmented. Nor is there clear United Nations authorisation. Plans for military action largely replace diplomatic efforts and cheapen our role on the world stage.

Finally, it is not possible to direct attacks solely at military targets. Evidence suggests that the vast majority (around 90%) of drone strike victims are unintended and innocent casualties.

It is important that we learn from history. It is now widely accepted that Western interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have had disastrous consequences. There is no reason to think that Syria will be any different.

As my MP, I ask you to stand against this rash and inappropriately reasoned military escalation.

I understand that opposing action and voting no on Wednesday will mean a split with your party, however I ask you to consider objectively the arguments put forth and make a decision with your conscience.

I am not convinced that all other avenues have been explored. The Prime Minister has done nothing to give me confidence in his reasoning.

Thank you for reading and considering this.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Gough

The ‘You Didn’t Vote, So You Can Lump It’ Fallacy

One of the hot n’ tasty – albeit pseudo-informed – statements of this year is, ‘if you didn’t vote then you have no right to complain.’

It is getting increasingly difficult and increasingly stupid to make this argument with any real sense of conviction.

This year the voters were juggling less discernible differences between to the two major parties, dwindling credibility of the Liberal Democrats and swelling inflammation of the UK Independence Party. This year the media giants were out for blood with an unmatched and intense bias. This year pitted the candidates against each other in an awkwardly broadened yet puddle-deep televised debate. And this year saw Russell Brand throwing his hat into the ring!

Turnout at the 2015 General Election was the highest in nearly two decades with 66.1% of eligible people voting. This means that more people voted with less credible information than perhaps ever before.

The First Past The Post system gave the Conservatives 330 seats – a parliamentary majority – with only 37% of the vote, and only 24% of the eligible vote.

It’s easy to see why people don’t consider voting as an effective option.

It’s even easier to demonise non-voters as something less than British, or something less than human.

I’m not being melodramatic. When we deny people the right to be disillusioned, confused, appalled and upset – or when we deny them the right to complain about the decisions being made over and without them, we deny them the basic human rights of free expression and free speech.

We also fracture the foundation stones of democracy.

Part of living in a Democracy is the protection and representation of even those who disrespect the system. The beautiful downside to any Democracy is the freedom it provides to even those who would seek to undermine it.

At it’s extreme, a true Democracy goes out of its way to protect even those citizens who actively seek to destroy it. This is the wake of a Democracy, the price we pay for representation and the only real way to ensure the freedom of its people.

It’s not enough just to say, ‘you didn’t vote so all your rights, privileges and complaints are immediately invalid.’ Using that logic Children have no right to complain either, nor does my wife who is a tax paying, settled foreign national.

First Past The Post may have worked when we we’re a two party country, however the nightmare of this system now is the feeling of powerlessness it leaves for many who have a genuine reason to believe that their vote simply wouldn’t count.

Those of us who did vote, however have a nasty – and dare I say ‘slightly’ fascist – idea that because other people didn’t vote, their privileges and even their human rights to free speech and free expression are somehow to be regarded as less than ours.

This country is not split into voters and non-voters.

We the people are not ‘we who turned up’ and the future of our prosperity, health services and education is not reserved for only those special few who share our ideology about voting or our ability to vote.

In a Democracy we believe in the vocalisation of minority opinions. We believe that all sides should have a right to be heard. We believe that everybody has a right to their opinion – right? But somehow there is one glaring exception: everyone has a right to their opinion only as long as they actually vote. They have no right to any different opinion on voting – and all their opinions are devalued if they don’t.

There is a silent argument about those who won’t/can’t vote still being part of the country, protected by it’s laws with a right to be discontent. ‘You didn’t vote so you can shut the hell up and lump it for the next five years’ is simply a dramatic misunderstanding the system we live in – and the one that we vote in.

We need to get our game faces on and encourage voting – but this will not happen by degrading, devaluing and further disillusioning those who didn’t. The country is not split into voters and non-voters. We should move past these lazy, elitist arguments and start coming together to raise the bar, give hope for the future and actually fix the problem!

Million Mask March makes good television and rubbish protest!

Anti-scientology-protest

There’s a moment in Aaron Sorkin’s, The Newsroom when anchorman Will McAvoy is interviewing an Occupy Wall Street spokesperson that make that makes good lefties like me duck and cover. Here’s the clip.

In brutal manner McAvoy takes apart the movement’s lack of clarity, lack of structure, lack of leadership, lack of preparation, lack of clear goals, lack of willingness to talk and lack of any kind of clear exit strategy.

Anonymous, faceless, leaderless and inevitably voiceless protests seem to be all in vogue at the moment. Yesterday the ‘Million Mask March’ loosely organised by a group called ‘Anonymous’ took to the streets in large cities across the globe.

This mostly non-violent protest looks comically familiar to the satirical example presented in The Newsroom clip above. No clear aims. No clear issues other than being broadly anti capitalist. No leadership structure – unless you include Russell Brand gatecrashing and stealing much of the publicity. And the biggest omission: no identity – the people were encouraged to be faceless by wearing Guy Fawkes masks. Guy Fawkes, you might remember, was the guy who tried to blow up parliament in a terrorist attack that would have made the 7-11 bombings look like playtime.

The axe I grind is this: I support and agree with much of what a lot of these protesters are trying to say, but they simply give protest a bad name. This kind of movement is to protest as a baby crying in the corner is to asking mum for another cookie. No hope for dialogue, no chance for discussion and no way of evaluating or even distinguishing their aims and value’s from the government’s. No suggestions, no solutions, no signatures, no identity, just all lot of indistinguishable noise from a corner.

There is little to differentiate this anonymous movement with anonymous, all caps trolling on webpages, which no one in the civilised spectrum of the world doesn’t roll their eyes at.

This is the absolute worst thing about these types of protests. They, by design, easily allow serious people to disregard them. Without any clear message or ability to meet with the messengers the government and business owners can simply say there is nothing we can do.

I want to stand with the discontents and malcontents who have been born out of the last two decades despicable abuse of power and money. However I also want a face and a voice. I want forums and meetings where I can raise my objections and seek change. I want to be seen, heard and counted. I will not wear a mask, I will not be anonymous and I will not be content sitting in crying in the corner hoping someone takes pity on me.

Dear ‘anonymous.’ Playtime is over; take the issues seriously or please shut up and stop embarrassing the rest of us.

Open Letter to Pastor Mark Driscoll

Mars Hill’s Board of Overseers Announcement

Mark Driscoll’s Letter of Resignation

 

Dear Pastor Mark

I’m saddened, albeit unsurprised hearing today of your resignation from Pastoral Ministry at Mars Hill Church.

I have – with most of the evangelical community – been following the unravelling of these events over the past year. I have however, refrained from commenting online, believing that the mire of online journalistic speculation and hype are unhelpful additions to a painful process of Church discipline.

I understand that the prevalent charges bought against you were reflective of a forward and frequently blunt approach to leadership, manifested as arrogance and short-temper. None of the substantiated charges contained heresy, illegal or immoral activity.* Many bringing the worst of these charges refused to participate properly in the investigation process. This, as your council of elders have shared, doesn’t disqualify you for ministry, particularly in light of the repentant, accountable and maturing attitude that you have shown.

You have, in my eyes, demonstrated exceptionally clearly how a Pastor ought to act in the midst of conflict. You have apologised continually, worked with those in authority, subjected yourself to every level of scrutiny, continually pointed to the grace of Jesus and the sufficiency of the scriptures and you have answered these charges by reaching above and beyond what was asked of you. You have made sacrifices to protect your family, and made a final decision in favour of their health and the health and safety of Mars Hill Church.

I believe that some in the Christian community should be ashamed of how they have interfered in Church discipline, refused to let investigations happen unmolested, jumped on the bandwagons of seismic assumption and attacked you through cheap tabloid satire and comedy.

Psalm 1 clearly defines two groups of people; those who soak their roots in the word of God and continually grow and mature – pointing back constantly to the source; and those who sit in the seat of mockers, throwing fire into the ring from the outside. Godliness is measured by recognising weaknesses within us, and making God-driven changes in community to rectify these issues. You have been a tremendous example of this. Much of the commentary and social media exploitation of these events however have been textbook examples of sitting in the mocker’s chair. I’m ashamed of my and your brothers and sisters who readily jumped into bed with pop-speculation rather than allowing the judicial process of Mars Hill and others to continue discreetly.

I have never been a direct, personal recipient of your ministry or correction and I cannot put myself into the shoes of anyone who has been hurt by your personality, leadership decisions or ministry. I cannot therefore speculate on the validity or their situations or the painful journey of healing and reconciliation that I’m sure they may have to live through now. I’m grateful that you have publicly invited them into that reconciliation journey.

I have, however, benefited hugely from your ministry. By virtue of your Bible-saturated, God-glorifying, bold, assertive and uncompromising teaching (which I have oftentimes taken with a pinch of salt) I stand as a worthier husband, a finer man, a sharpened exegete of both the Word and culture and – because of your most recent examples – I hope a humbler leader in the midst of conflict.

I’m sure the world of celebrity Christianity abounds with snares that none of us can imagine, and there are those who will ignorantly interpret this as ‘Mark Worship.’ Pastor Mark, you have made me fall deeper in love with Jesus, a debt that I will continually carry with me and will not readily forget with your resignation.

God bless you. God bless your wife. God bless your children. God bless your future. And thank you!

Tim Gough

 

 

*see elders statement

Immigration and the Bible

I’ve got some fab Christian friends here and across the pond whom I love, and who fall on the right to far right spectrum of immigration policy discussions.

These discussions can be full of rhetoric, misquoted figures and sometimes include fear-mongering statements about the rise of militant Islam watering down the Christian nature of our Country – as if secularism and consumerism haven’t already been doing this for the last century.

I like real debate and believe we need to think deeply on these matters. I also believe in a global community and the greater good for the greatest number being achieved through Christian principles of charity and self-sacrifice.

With this last thought in mind I’d like to suggest some verses from the Bible that should make their way into our discussions about Immigration policy. I’m aware these are often referring to the Ethnic Nation of Ancient Israel, however I also believe that these are principles that remain the same when read through the eyes of the New Covenant, and the Witness we have to them in the life of Jesus Christ.

So – in no particular order:

“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not ill-treat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 19:33-34

“And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.” Deuteronomy 10:19

“The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the LORD.” Numbers 15:15

“Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!” Deuteronomy 27:19

“This is what the Lord says: do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.” Jeremiah 22:3

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Matthew 25:35

“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 22:21

“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:5

“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrews 13:2

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.” Zechariah 17:9-10

“You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the sojourners who reside among you and have had children among you. They shall be to you as native-born children of Israel. With you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.” Ezekiel 47:22

“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” Matthew 5:46-47

“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 3:20

“And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.” Luke 13:29