Ben Lowry: Christian traditionalists need their own party

Pilgrims cross from Beal sands to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland during the annual Christian Easter pilgrimage on Good Friday, 2014. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Pilgrims cross from Beal sands to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in Northumberland during the annual Christian Easter pilgrimage on Good Friday, 2014. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

If I was to think of one political sphere in which sectarian barriers could be broken down among a section of the population that was once divided, I would be thinking about the way in which traditional Christians could join forces.

For some years I have wondered about the viability of a Christian political party.

This would be a party that would include a range of people, such as Protestants who are drawn to groups such as the Evangelical Alliance and Catholics who might once have voted SDLP (such as the three suspended Belfast councillors).

Peter Robinson’s desire to get Catholic votes for the DUP was never likely to go particularly far, given the party’s heritage, but there is no doubt that in latter elections a small number of traditional Catholics did support it on moral grounds – small, but a large enough number to just about register in surveys.

As the DUP liberalises, which it will have to do, that traditional Catholic vote will have nowhere to go, aside from the TUV, which has not succeeded among Protestant voters so will certainly not do so among Catholics.

It seems to me that the only remaining place for such voters is a non denominational Christian Party – a party that holds to traditional values on social questions.

Also one that is probably a mix of capitalist (pro personal responsibility and people being paid according to effort) and socialist (with a generous safety net for people who cannot fend for themselves).

Of course that latter mix of economic policies will put such a party in the mainstream on financial matters.

But traditional policies such as opposition to abortion and euthanasia would put such a party increasingly at odds with the emerging liberal consensus on social and moral questions.

There has to be a political vehicle for this group of people – perhaps 10% of Northern Ireland voters – whose Christian values trump all other political considerations.

• Ben Lowry (@BenLowry2) is News Letter deputy editor

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