Susan-Anne White: ‘People said I should be killed’

Susan-Anne White in the living room of her Trillick home
Susan-Anne White in the living room of her Trillick home

An evangelical Christian, self-styled moral crusader and would-be politician, Susan-Anne White is on a mission to stem what she sees as the polluted tide of the permissive society.

An evangelical Christian, self-styled moral crusader and would-be politician, Susan-Anne White is on a mission to stem what she sees as the polluted tide of the permissive society.

Mrs White became a target of ridicule when she stood as an independent candidate in the recent Assembly elections with a manifesto which featured pledges to jail gay people and adulterers, oppose abortion, uphold parents’ rights to smack their children and abolish the Equality Commission and the Human Rights Commission.

It also reflected her opposition to sex education in schools, the ‘Islamification of British culture’, the LGBT agenda and her support for the reintroduction of capital punishment for murder.

It’s an eyebrow-raising list which many found outmoded and inflammatory; at the time social media went into overdrive, portraying Mrs White as a meddling, narrow-minded, Bible-thumping, battle-axe.

I was intrigued to meet this seemingly formidable lady and she agreed on certain provisos: that I would ‘‘dress modestly’’ for the interview (make-up and revealing clothes are major bugbears); I would not paint her as a ‘‘figure of fun’’; and she wanted assurances that I was not out to promote a feminist agenda (the name of this section, ‘Woman to Woman’, caused her some concern).

Dressed demurely in a floaty, ankle-grazing skirt, Mrs White, 57, welcomed me into her modest Trillick home with tea and biscuits.

She lives on a small farm with her husband Francis, a helpmate in her campaigns, and 17-year-old daughter Abigail, who is home-schooled and passes the time doing jigsaw puzzles and drawings of Disney characters.

The White’s lead a modest, quiet life, with no television, only a screen for DVDs, and no alcohol. Sundays are sacrosanct, although they rarely attend a church, preferring instead to listen to sermons on the internet.

‘‘Once strong Bible-believing churches are more often than not going the way of the world, they are watering down the message to please people, not to cause offence, they are so afraid today of telling it like it is because of hate crimes laws,’’ she says.

‘‘If I was worried about people’s delicate sensibilities I would never open my mouth.’’

Of the Catholic church, and others, she is unequivocal.

‘‘I do not consider it a Christian church and yet it was the church I was born into. But I am not singling out the Catholic church, there are many so-called Christian sects or denominations, but they are not Christian, because they have deviated from the Bible. Mormonism is not a Christian church, they are a cult. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians, the Seventh Day Adventists are not Christians.’’

To many, Mrs White’s views may come across as extreme and anachronistic, a notion she refutes.

‘‘I only seem extreme because society has moved so far away from Biblical principles. Some years ago most people would have agreed with me, my views would have been the mainstream.’’

She’s aware she has been portrayed as a ‘figure of fun’, but says this makes her angry, rather than hurt.

‘‘For people to treat me as some dimwit and to laugh and mock and think they are going to get some collateral out of me by poking fun at me, I feel righteous anger at that, because I am no fool.

‘‘I believe I’m in a war, a spiritual war and I believe there are enemies out there, they are enemies of God and because I’m on the Lord’s side they are my enemies also.’’

This battle, she claimed, ‘‘can get very vicious’’ at times.

‘‘When I said that homosexuals are 40 times more likely to abuse children than heterosexuals - the things that were said about me, the pro-gay lobby wanted me dead. There were people who said I should be hunted down and killed. I do believe some of these people could kill, or at least use some degree of violence.’’

Mrs White said she would ‘‘recriminalise homosexuality tomorrow’’ if she had the power, adding her stance is quite soft compared to some.

‘‘I can point you to pastors and ministers in the United States of America who are calling for the death penalty.’’

Is that something she would like to see?

‘‘No, but it actually was a death penalty offence. In the Old Testament under the law of Moses adulterers were executed and homosexuals were executed.

‘‘I wouldn’t call for their execution, but I would call for their imprisonment,’’ she says firmly.

Mrs White does not believe someone is born gay, but that people are ‘brainwashed’ or ‘recruited’ into homosexuality, or have even been ‘‘molested as children’’.

‘‘I don’t like that word ‘gay’. To me gay means happy. They have hijacked that lovely word; they have ruined language.

‘‘Behind closed doors they are killing each other.....the sexual proclivities of homosexuals is so abhorrent and damaging to the human body that it hardly bears description. Sodomy is such an unnatural act, the body was not made for sodomy.’’

Despite these fervent views, she says she does not hate homosexuals.

‘‘No, I don’t hate them, I pity them. I know they hate me. I actually have tremendous compassion for them, especially the young ones caught up in that lifestyle.’’

Alongside homosexuality, she says is the ‘twin evil’ of adultery; speaking on the subject she becomes quite irate.

‘‘I think adultery is a heinous crime, an absolutely wicked crime. And why some of these churches are so lenient with the adulterers in their midst I do not know.’’

She is especially condemnatory of the Coleraine Baptist Church attended by Colin Howell and Hazel, who were found guilty of the 1991 murders of their spouses Trevor Buchanan and Lesley Howell.

‘‘That Coleraine Baptist Church is an utter disgrace - Howell and Stewart - those two wicked wretches. If I had been in that church I would have demanded the sternest of discipline for that wicked pair. I would have put Howell and Stewart in prison, they wouldn’t have been free to murder.’’

Mrs White’s is equally vociferous on the subject of immigration and the Islamic religion which she describes as ‘‘dangerous and violent.’’

‘‘It is out to take over the world. If anyone doesn’t fear that, well I would say, you should.’’

Susan Anne-White was born in Belfast on April 21, 1959 into a Catholic family and was raised in Greencastle.

The family moved around, to south Africa for a year and a half when her father got a job as a welder and then England for five years.

It was in Blackpool at the age of 17 that she became a born again Christian after attending a young people’s Bible study.

‘‘I then began to distance myself from the Roman Catholic church and then very soon after, left it completely. That caused friction, of course, with the family, which to some degree continues to this day.’’

The eldest of four - she has two sisters and a brother Stephen, who died when he was 23 in a car accident in South Africa.

She speaks emotionally of that traumatic event.

‘‘To hear just out of the blue that Stephen was dead, I can’t tell you the emotional effect it had. I was absolutely devastated.

‘‘I lost about a stone the following month. It was two weeks for Stephen’s body to be returned and those two weeks were just like a daze. My parents were absolutely grief-stricken and I was so grief-stricken I didn’t know how I was going to help anybody else, but that’s where my Christian faith really came into play.’’

Flitting between schools, including a convent in South Africa, she says her education suffered and she preformed poorly academically, failing the 11-plus and doing ‘abysmally’ in her O Levels, managing only to secure one - English Language.

However, she qualified as a State Enrolled Nurse - working in obstetrics and gynaecology and also a burns unit and at the age of 27 returned to education studying for four more O’Levels at Newtownabbey Tech and then two A Levels in Politics and Sociology.

By the time she met her husband Francis (through a friend) she was 37 and working as clerical assistant. The pair got married on her 38th birthday and Abigail was born the following year.

Mrs White was forced to give up her job due to illness during her pregnancy, but says: ‘‘We always knew that once Abigail was born I would be looking after her myself - I would not be working.’’

Indeed, Mrs White takes a very dim view of women who work, believing the man should be the sole breadwinner.

‘‘Feminism is responsible for very many women being in the workforce, particularly married women.

‘‘I have no problem with women working if they have a crisis in their life, if their husband takes ill, I realise it’s necessity. But I think today married women work because feminism has told them that staying at home is boring and dull and they need a career to find themselves and to have an identity and to have self-worth, as they call it, and that’s why women became very dissatisfied with staying at home.

‘‘So they entered the workforce and they are either doing jobs that are only suitable for men, or they are taking men’s jobs and that bothers me. I think there should be a mass exodus of women coming out of the workforce and leaving those jobs for men.’’

But I ask if she is so vehemently anti-feminist, shouldn’t her husband Francis do all the political work.

‘‘Ideally he should have been the candidate, but he has said that he does not feel that God has gifted him with public speaking and I believe that God has uniquely gifted me with public speaking.

‘‘Francis would find it harder to speak out against feminism because he would be labelled with that nonsensical word ‘sexist’.”

Susan-Anne White refuses to be fazed by the bile heaped on her by detractors, remaining determined and stoic throughout.

‘‘If anyone thinks this has been easy for me, to stand publicly and take the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and to take the barbs and the hostility and the downright hatred, they’re baying for my blood almost and saying that I belong in the 15th century and all this nonsense and that I’m a lunatic and that I’m insane, if anyone thinks that it’s been easy to do that, no it has not. But I am glad that God has given me unusual courage to withstand it all.

‘‘It’s not easy, but it’s exhilarating at the same time.’’