DUP councilor berates Arlene Foster for “publicly flouting Lord’s Day”

Posted By: June 26, 2018


Distributed to Congress by Irish National Caucus

Arnold Joseph Toynbee (1889-1975) one of the most eminent English historians explained how  England used the Bible in its genocidal, racist,  and —after the English Reformation— anti-Catholic oppression of Ireland.

Sadly, today there is still a residue of that deep-seated anti-Catholic bigotry in a significant section of the Protestant community in Northern Ireland. (Can any informed, objective person really deny this?) And —since the Six Counties of Northern Ireland were torn away from the other 26 Counties of Ireland by the 1920 British Government of Ireland Act— every time any Unionist/Loyalist/Protestant leader makes a gesture of reaching out to Nationalists/Republicans/ Catholics, the Bible is sacrilegiously deployed to reject that gesture.

Some might see the latest melancholic example of this as being  Ballymoney Councilor John Finlay’s over-the-top attack on Arlene Foster’s attendance at the Fermanagh-Donegal  GAA game on Sunday, June 24.( See article below:’’DUP councillor berates Arlene Foster for ‘publicly flouting Lord’s Day’ ”. News Letter, June 25).

Was this attack out of concern for the Lord’s Day —which, by the way, was changed from Saturday to Sunday by the Catholic Church at the  Council of Laodicea in A.D. 364— or could it be seen as a dog whistle?  Might some, with good reason, see Councilor Findlay’s attack as a not too subtle attempt to rally the extreme, fundamentalist, ultra-Orange base of the DUP: to show disrespect not only to Catholics but also to all things Irish (as personified by the GAA)? Just like Gregory Campbell’s disgraceful attack on the Irish language?

A few misguided individuals may think the best way to counter anti-Catholicism, anti-Semitism, or anti-Black racism is to ignore it—just don’t acknowledge it and it will disappear. History and human nature prove otherwise. Right now, Blacks in the United States quite correctly call out anti-Black racism. And I back them one hundred percent. Same as I back Jewish-Americans who are not silent about some re-emergence of anti-Semitism in the United States.

Any time the Word of God is used directly or by dog whistle to cause division and hurt, we can be certain it is not God’s will. As I said recently in a speech at the headquarters of the AFL-CIO (the federation of 55 national and international labor unions that represent 12.5 million working men and women): “People of faith can be certain that working for justice is doing God’s work on earth. And people of no faith can be certain that working for justice is doing the decent and loving thing. And all of us can be certain that anything that does injustice —anything that marginalizes, demeans, devalues and disrespects  human beings— cannot be God’s work, or cannot be the decent and loving thing to do.”

Time to build up The Beloved Community in Northern Ireland—and that, we can all be certain, is God’s will.

DUP councilor berates Arlene Foster for “publicly flouting Lord’s Day”

John Finlay said Arlene Foster had caused “deep hurt” within the DUP grassroots

Stephen Gamble.News  Letter. Belfast.  Monday,  June  25,  2018.

 A DUP councilor has spoken of his “deep sorrow and indignation” at his party leader’s decision to attend a GAA match on a Sunday. In a strongly worded letter to Arlene Foster, Alderman John Finlay accused her of “publicly flouting the Lord’s Day.”

The Ballymoney  [a small town in County Antrim] councilor also claimed that Mrs. Foster had caused deep hurt within the grassroots support of the party by attending the Ulster GAA final in Co Monaghan on Sunday. In his letter to Mrs Foster, which the News Letter has seen, the Causeway Coast and Glens representative added: “You said that you realized there are some people who may be uncomfortable with you [sic] being at the GAA match on a Sunday, but you then went on to say: ‘But let me tell you this, I am the leader of a political party that wants to have a shared society in Northern Ireland’. I regard those comments as dismissive and patronizing, and I wonder if you have any appreciation of the depth and extent of the hurt you have caused across the party membership and its support base.”

Mr. Finlay said the party has always held the Lord’s Day “to a high view,” adding: “It is extremely upsetting that you feel that you can suddenly sweep that aside because you regard it as politically expedient to do so. How you treat the Lord’s Day in your own personal life is a matter for you, but as leader of my party, you have no right to publicly flout it on the grounds that it is necessary to do so on the basis of promoting a shared society.”

Arguing that Biblical standards are “absolutes and therefore non-negotiable,” Mr. Finlay continued: “I commend the current leadership of our party for its stand on key areas such as abortion and same-sex marriage, and I believe that God will bless our continued adherence to Biblical principles on these issues.