Tuesday, 20 December 2011

As an evil Christian...

... I will no longer be shopping at Tescos.

Their support for the Gay Pride March in London was bad enough.  Now, Christians who support the traditional Christian teaching on marriage have been branded 'evil' by Nick Lansley, Head of Reseach and Development for the Tesco Website.  He wrote: “I’m also campaigning against evil Christians (that’s not all Christians, just bad ones) who think that gay people should not lead happy lives and get married to their same-sex partners.”

The Iona wwwsite carries the story.

I have written to Philip Clarke, the CE, explaining why.

H/t Fr Ray Blake


Scout said...

I disagree with Nick Lansley's comment and do not think it was sensible of him to have made it. However, lets bear in mind that he made the remark (3 years ago) on his private website. He did not make it on a Tesco website or in his formal capacity as a senior Tesco employee. Also, lets remember that Tesco disassociated himself from what Lansley wrote:

"Mr Lansley’s comments, made in a personal capacity in 2008, in no way reflect the views of Tesco.

"Our values as a company are such that we abhor criticism of any religion, and we knew nothing about Mr Lansley’s comments until they were brought to our attention.

"We are very sorry that anyone might have thought that there was any blurring of the boundary between his personal comments and his work for Tesco. We have therefore asked him to remove the comments, and he has done so."

There is much to disapprove of about Tesco and the other big supermarket chains...but are Christians really justified in boycotting Tesco just over this particular issue? Tesco have taken action already, getting Lansley to take his comments off his private webpage and issuing an apology for the offence caused. What more do you want them to do, exactly? Are you asking that Lansley should be sacked for something silly he wrote on the internet 3-4 years ago?

Ben Trovato said...

Imagine if he had said the reverse, characterising any section of the Gay Community as evil? I doubt he would stlll be in a job, regardless of the private nature of the comments. There are double standards at work here.

And I do not believe that such attitudes have nothing to do with Tescos support of the militant posturing of the London Gay Pride march.

What I want is for Tescos to learn that actions have commercial consequences, and that supporting militant posturing of a vociferous minority is bad for business.

Peter Denshaw said...


I am afraid that I think some Christians have been ‘evil’ with regard to this issue. I am all for people voicing their concern over the actions of a company – and I defend free speech and people taking punitive actions against companies.

What I find sad about this is that it is more than probable that multinationals like Tesco have many business practices that could be seen as conflicting with the spirit of Mal 3:5 or the prohibitions of the Torah concerning business practice, or the duties of an employer as laid out in the preparation for confession in the Missal. For a start the company flagrantly breaks the Forth Commandment! In addition the ‘rigging of the market’, the denuding of our high streets of local businesses, the exploitation of producers in the developing world, close links with politicians, the part they play in the loss of Sunday as a ‘special day’ are all accusations that can be laid at the feet of supermarkets. It is even possible to argue that the changes in working, shopping and eating practices that have been particularly fostered by supermarkets have had a major impact into the how we now lead our family lives – and perhaps have contributed to the breakdown of family life.

These are matters of debate, but it is certain, supermarkets have at one time or another conducted their business in a manner that is contrary to Christian teaching and morality and there is no question that their business and trading methods have had a major impact on economic, family and community life in Britain. Yet it is difficult to find an organised Christian campaign against one or all of these business practices. Yes there was opposition to Mrs Thatcher’s pushing through of Sunday trading in the 1980s – and there are piecemeal efforts in the shape of ‘Fairtrade’, Jubilee and other projects and movements aimed at helping the developing world negotiate a fair place in the global market place. But it is difficult to find Christian comment or organised action against specific policies of a supermarket until one chooses to support an event at Gay Pride.

I think this omission falls within the remit of Matt 23: 23 & 24... ‘You should have practised the latter, without neglecting the former...’... ‘You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel...’

And in this sense I DO think certain Christian voices of protest to Tesco are evil, because they are disproportionate and they are not even handed... It is yet again an example of the easy, prejudiced and cherry picked morality that is sadly the vogue at present in Christian circles, particularly as Christianity, as in America, is moving the Right and becoming politicised. Well, as history demonstrates, politicised religion often needs scapegoats to give it a semblance of moral credibility. Tesco and the gays is, in my view, such an example. It is easy and lazy morality – I’ve no problems with Christians voicing their concern over Tesco’s policy towards gay groups etc. but it has to be even-handed and there is much Christians could and can complain about concerning the morality of big business and the supermarket industry. The fact they have not done this with the same vehemence apportioned to the ‘gay issue’ demonstrates just how weak is their moral teaching. Bleating ‘.. I will no longer be shopping at Tescos because of its support of a gay project’ may sound like an orthodox Christian stance, but without criticism of other aspects of Tesco’s behaviour, to the same or greater dergree, it lacks integrity... It is indeed a case of straining gnats while swallowing camels...

Peter Denshaw

Peter Denshaw said...

P.S. – I DON’T shop at Tesco, if I can help it for reasons I have spelled out above!


Ben Trovato said...


Thanks for your long and thoughtful comment.

I do understand, and to some extent sympathise, with your argument. However I would also suggest that there are other factors which may mitigate the lack of even-handedness which you deplore.

One is that the business issues are very complex: it is hard for people outside the system to be categorically sure of what is and is not good practice. For example, there are Christians who criticise the Fair Trade movement, because it requires a collectivisation of the producers in developing countries into a cooperative model which some believe enforces a particular political agenda... and so on.

I, for example, do not know enough to be able to judge those issues.

However, when it comes to promoting homosexuality as a legitimate alternative lifestyle, I can see clear and direct harm is being done; just as I can when abortion is promoted, or indeed artificial contraception, extra-marital relations and so on. I write about all of these - so my belief is that I am not gay-bashing, but I am focussing on issues related to marriage, regardless of how popular or unpopular my views may be. (Gays may be, as you say, an easy target - contraception is certainly not...)

However, these are areas about which I feel competent to voice an opinion, based on the clear teaching of the Church, and my charism as a husband and father.

Peter Denshaw said...


I wouldn’t be caught dead at Gay Pride and I think there are far better things Tesco could spend its money on. But the fact Christians choose this issue as something to ‘fight’ about, when there has and is so much about corporate business that rightly deserves Christian opprobrium, yet Christians have kept silent, demonstrates a lack of moral integrity that rightly deserves scorn and contempt. The Tesco example above demonstrates just how much this is an example of moral cowardice: big business, employment practice that severely impacts upon the family, unbridled capitalism, Sunday trading etc. – all issues Christian could lobby about. But no, that is too hard, so go for the ‘easy’ morality – which by a curious and spooky coincidence happens to dovetail nicely into well-worn cultural prejudices that might get people on ‘our’ side when awkward questions about business etc. would make ‘us’ unpopular. Bleat about ‘moral harm’ etc. all you like, but if you really want to help the family then there are far more important things that you could be concerning yourself with, instead of the easy moral ‘tokenism’ of getting your knickers in a twist over this issue, when there are REAL issues that impact daily on the life of children and families that are ignored. Gay Pride takes place one day in the year, in London, where the vast majority of the population (even of London) will not see it or wish to attend (I have lived in London for 17 years and have never even seen Gay Pride). Whereas the business practices of such companies impact daily on the lives of families in the UK and the rest of the world. Joining in the hype concerning the Tesco’s debacle may make Christians feel better about themselves, but it shows they are lacking any true moral fibre: as noted, it is a case of straining gnats and swallowing camels. The real casualty in such ‘campaigns’ is of course Christianity itself, because for the vast majority of the population, whining about homosexuality is synonymous with bigotry; people know that homosexuality is such an inconsequential issue in day to day life (affecting around 1.5% - with little indication this is increasing). It is not the ‘moral’ voice that people object to, it is the disproportionality that irks – people see it for what it is – taking a pot shot at ‘easy’ targets. The Tesco fiasco is another example of this disproportionality and while some Christians can take pride that they are not going to shop at Tesco because of its support of Gay Pride (no doubt boring anyone who will listen with their act of cheap righteousness) they will stand accused of falling foul of the spirit of Matt 23: 23 & 24.


Ben Trovato said...


Slightly puzzled by your second comment, in which you simply repeated your first - with added vehemence - but neither moved the argument forward nor responded to the points I made in my response to you...

Ben Trovato said...

And Peter replied:

Ben I can’t add anymore to what I’ve said – we have to disagree. You note: ‘I, for example, do not know enough [about business] to be able to judge those issues...; But do you know enough about homosexuality? (And I don’t mean the self-righteous and self-deluding bilge and bile that is found on Right Wing Catholic hate sites, LifeSiteNews.Com or Anglicanmainstream.com (which there seem to be many)). The issue I am writing about is about proportionality... There is nothing you can say that will convince me that there isn’t a good deal of finger pointing and ‘easy’ morality concerning the ‘Tesco’ issue. It is the well known ‘Pharisee and the Tax Collector’ syndrome that seems to plague Christian thinking at present. Regards and Happy Christmas: Peter.

Peter Denshaw said...


I can’t help but think there is a little bit of Divine Providence in the posting you made under your real name... (now removed). What I found interesting is that on your business website, you have a rather impressive list of businesses that have used your services, given you views on boycotting companies that ‘promote a homosexual lifestyle’. (Whatever that is supposed to be – vast amounts of police time, effort and taxpayers’ money is spent dealing with the excesses of ‘a heterosexual lifestyle’ (thankfully the ‘gay’ areas of towns and cities tend to be fairly trouble free, but that’s gays for you!) that blights the centres of many UK town and cities, yet you wouldn’t presume every heterosexual lives that lifestyle. It is the same with homosexuals – ‘the homosexual lifestyle’ is at best a description of lifestyle of a small minority of gay people (mainly men) – at worst it is one of many self-righteous and judgemental lies told by the likes of LifeSiteNews.Com and other Right Wing Christian sites only a fool would believe (and alas the fact so many WANT to believe such bile, is worrying indeed...). Tho’ in truth of course it is ‘half truths’ these sites deal in. I think what is peculariar about so much that is peddled on the internet at present as a ‘conservative’ Christian voice, is just such a lot of whining that ‘it is someone else’s fault’ – when perhaps the real reason lies why Christianity plays a smaller and smaller part in modern society lies with Christians themselves – whatever, we live in a far, far more socially moral society than we did a hundred years ago, when the churches were full and the Bible better known – which perhaps explains why Christianity is rejected by many?).

I was wondering whether you refuse to work with some companies because you don’t approve of their ethical standards? I suppose what I am asking, is whether you extend your boycott from not shopping at a supermarket (something that might be a little inconvenient, but doesn’t actually cost anyone very much) to refusing business – i.e. something that would hurt you financially. One or two of the companies mentioned on your website do have very liberal policies towards gay staff and their partners? Or the ‘gay-issue’ aside, other ethical issues that conflict Christian and/or Catholic teaching? Do you go for ‘cheap’ moral stands, or do you put your money where your mouth is refuse to do paid work for companies which have policies, procedures or provide services that can promote ‘immorality’ (in all its guises...)? I am not asking this to be ‘cleaver’ rather because you state in the above ‘I... do not know enough [about business] to be able to judge those issues...’ yet your livelihood seems to involve a good deal of working closely with business. It seems a strange state of affairs that you claim to be ignorant of ‘business issues’ thus unable to make an ethical judgment about them, yet are reliant on working with businesses for your livelihood. It could just be a case of Matt 23: 23 & 24....

Ben Trovato said...


Near, but no coconut!

It could have been me, or it could have been that a friend was visiting, looked at his googlemail on my machine and accidentally left it logged on under his name... (If you have read my blog assiduously you will have some clues: he has featured...)

I think in my blogging on this topic I have been quite careful to distinguish between people with homosexual tendencies and the gay activists who promote the gay lifestyle.

As I have written elsewhere (on Caroline Farrow's blog) I do tend to agree with you about the excesses of some Christians in attacking homosexual people. That is not my project: I am more interested in ideas - and the impact they have on individuals and society

As for your more general point, it is indeed difficult to avoid doing business with organisations whose ethics are dodgy - or indeed to know what many organisations are up to at all. As it happens, I have actually refused to work with some organisations because of the unethical nature of their business or the way in which they undertake it. But I don't know much about - or take much interest in - business.

I am far more interested in individuals, individual action and individual morality than in collective, economic, and political issues. The other area I have a strong interest in, as a father, is education - what goes on in schools, and now universities - and even the promotion in the public square of anti-Catholic propaganda as happens on the London Gay Pride March.

It seems to me that you are on something of a crusade to vindicate the homosexual agenda and vilify those who don't accept it - but doubtless from your perspective that's merely another manifestation of my paranoia and/or prejudice.

But I don't think we're getting very far with this: as you said in your last 'We'll have to disagree.'

Nick said...

I'd forgotten the exact words I used and I've just restored them to my Flickr profile now. Thank you!