Christians (and others) for Assault

The backlash against the eminently sensible, long overdue and (in European terms) completely unremarkable notion that children should have equal protection in law from assault – continues. But who are the networks combining to make sure you can assault your child? Here’s a handy graphic to cut out and keep. Tom Dissonance’s image updated ‘to reflect direct establishment and funding of BR by CI and FET, and MIP’s links to Philip Morris International’:


Because believe me when this legislation does kick-in the tabloids will be circling above anyone who has brought it into being – and they will thrash-out that message that comes neatly from the ‘Salmond is Mugabe’ song-sheet and shrieks of real fear that their power has been challenged.

[It has].

The NGOs and charities that helped pilot this will be under attack. So who are they?

Christian Institute

As one person who’d face a tabloid assault put it:

“The Christian Institute were also behind all the Named Person stuff and the Daily Mail has them on speed-dial.”

As the Herald covered its opposition to the Named Person (‘Fundamentalists who fought Named Person law face financial probe‘):

“It has previously campaigned against gambling, abortion and euthanasia but most vigorously against homosexuality. It sought to raise the age of consent for gay people, it opposed civil partnerships and same sex marriages as well as legislation to allow gay couples to adopt. As a charity it has been censured by the Charity Commission for breaching rules on overt political campaigning. Most notoriously it produced an organ-donor style plastic card that read: “In the event of my death, I do not want my children to be adopted by homosexuals”.


In fact to be honest there’s ample evidence that despite all of the hangers on it’s the CI that are the main Smackers in town:

The Christian Institute admitting they set up pro-smacking Be Reasonable campaign – and other highlights from their accounts:

It’s worth noting also role of the Tobacco lobby.

What’s the tobacco lobby got to to with hitting children?

Well, in the world of libertarians and slightly desperate lobby groups – its one for all and all for one. They’ve got the lolly and nowhere to put it anymore.

Money is what unites fundamentalist Christians, “Communists” and “traditional family” advocates, that and a distinct feeling that their time has gone.

Of course the Media Intelligence Partners (MIP) “was founded in 2004 by Nick Wood, who is a former Communications Director for the UK Conservative Party, who worked for the MPs William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith.[1] MIP still works for the think-tank which was set up by Iain Duncan Smith in 2004, the Centre for Social Justice.[2][3] The company’s website highlights the political and media experience of its staff: “With backgrounds in Downing Street, the White House, national newspapers and international campaigning our staff bring a wealth of experience to a client’s campaign,” it says.”

The group was active to oppose the introduction of plain packaging in – in fact  Media Intelligence Partners acted as media contacts for Phillip Morris International, reiterating many of the tobacco industry arguments against plain packaging.

More here.

The Family Education Trust

The Family Education Trust is one of only two named supporters for the Be Reasonable – [hit your kids] – campaign.

They work under the slogan “for the family, for the youth, for the future” – and their Free Download page has this doozy: ‘A reasonable approach to discipline’ (cheap at 15p):

Well I’m sure you can imagine how this is all going, but here’s Vice-chair of the Family Education Trust: Eric Hester BA and here’s the Chair of the Family Education Trust: Arthur Cornell MEd, F.Coll.P.

Also present are the Coalition for Marriage.

As Adrian Tippets has written:

“Just who the Coalition are, beyond a list of over 130 core signatories, is not entirely clear, as Guardian columnist and science author Ben Goldacre has discovered.

There are links with a number of religious lobby groups. Board members of Coalition for Marriage Limited are prominent members of the Christian Institute, CARE, Family and Youth Concern and Christian Concern. Of these, the Coalition’s links with the Christian Institute are particularly close. Coalition for Marriage Limited is registered to the Institute’s Newcastle-upon-Tyne premises;  its website is registered to the Institute’s office manager, John Errington, and the Institute’s co-founder, Colin Hart, is a Coalition spokesman.

The Christian Institute has campaigned viciously and relentlessly against every single piece of LGBT rights legislation in the 22 years since its founding.  As a charity, it has been reprimanded by the Charities Commission on a number of occasions, most notoriously for producing organ-donor style plastic cards, that read: ‘In the event of my death, I do not want my children to be adopted by homosexuals’.

It also came in for criticism for it publication Bankrolling Gay Proselytism: The case for extending Section 28, for being an exclusively political activity with relation to its supposed aims. It was one of several positioning papers – whose publication often coincided with related parliamentary debates –  using research often criticised by academics for being methodologically flawed, depicting gay people as diseased or dangerous and more likely to be paedophiles.”

Essentially here we see a convergence of homophobic, far-right christian groups coalescing around the Scottish Conservatives.

The similarity of modus operandi between these groups and the LM Network isn’t a coincidence. A series of front groups and astro-turf activism belies a debilitating small base of support, reducing annually. A palpable loss of credibility can be countered only by subterfuge.

The media’s urge for false equivalence and the masque of websitery allows this nonsense to proliferate.

But several questions remain hanging from a Scottish perspective.

Who will defend the NGOs and charities representing children’s rights when the tabloid hacks come to smear them?

Who will interrogate what ACTUAL demographic these groups represent?

At what point will the LM network’s Scottish contacts be revealed?

How will progressive christians and faith groups respond to distance themselves from this propaganda and to stand up for social justice and human rights?

Conservative and reactionary Scotland is not confined to their cheerleaders in the Tory Party but is part of a hate-filled network of people operating against – in this case – our children’s human rights.


We are holding our annual fundraising appeal to try and raise £35,000 to continue and develop Bella Caledonia. If you enjoy this site we need your support to continue.

We can’t continue without more of our readers supporting us.

The money will go towards developing Bella as a platform for writers, filmmakers and artists, something that no-one else is doing in Scotland.

Please go here and make a donation.

Thank you.






Comments (29)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published.

  1. SleepingDog says:

    It is almost as if a small section of the population fear that if one of their means of terrorising children is outlawed then their authority may vanish overnight. I notice from testimonies that children are apparently on occasion beaten for telling “lies” about adults, which are actually truths about those adults’ bad behaviour and family secrets. Or for asking questions; heaven forfend that a parent/guardian should have to justify their behaviour or explain the world to their kids.

    Having said that, the authority of all parents and guardians, teachers and politicians, journalists and businesspeople — indeed all adults — is possibly on such a shoogly peg as never seen in history, due to a fast-moving, globally-linked, information-rich world. Given the mess previous generations have made of the place, that might be no bad thing.

  2. Jo says:

    Dearie me what a complete rant this was! Very disappointed in the way the subject has been covered. It’s a terrible piece and I very much object to the word “Christians” being thrown into the title thus attacking all Christians in general.

    The irony is that it was never the intention to ban smacking and I think Nicola Sturgeon had said this in the past. It’s worth pointing out that the change in policy is entirely down to the Greens pushing for it. As we know, the SNP is dependent on Greens votes at Holyrood during this term.

    Again, very disappointed by the tone of this article. There was a better way to handle the subject properly.

    1. ‘Christians’ weren’t thrown into the title, they are there because Christian groups are leading the opposition to the efforts to change social policy to protect children.

      If you read the piece Jo you’ll have noted the line: “How will progressive christians and faith groups respond to distance themselves from this propaganda and to stand up for social justice and human rights?”

      1. Jo says:

        I did read the piece Mike.

        I think it is just a means to sell a policy which the SNP had never planned to introduce. It’s not their policy, it’s the Greens’ policy but they have to back it or they lose Greens votes in the chamber.

        There’s a place here to debate the issue without claiming those who are against it are all lunatics, religious or otherwise.

        I know folk who are for it and folk who are not. Both sides put forward rational arguments for their position.

        This piece just isn’t balanced and I think the tone taken is in itself extreme. And the title does include the word Christians and qualifies nothing.

        1. Of course its a Green Party policy – so what? Do you not think there’s cross-party support for the measure?

          The title does include Christians as well it should as its Christian groups that are organising the opposition to the legislation.

          It would be interesting to see what matter of actual substance you have against the article.

    2. Pogliaghi says:

      Indeed. If until yesterday the SNP were against banning smacking, and everyone who supports smacking is a right wing fundamentalist, traditionalist, Bible Basher, irredeemable evil reactionary, and if we know the Realpolitik of this move is that the SNP need Green support, wtf does all this say about the SNP? Oh my god! What does it say about Scotland!? A nation of voters who endorse a party which sympathizes with child abusers! A nation which polls say don’t even endorse the policy even after they’ve been led by the good and virtuous Green Party to see their shameful error!

      My head is about to explode in a fit of self-righteousness amplified cognitive dissonance.

  3. florian albert says:

    ‘Christians (and others) for Assault’

    The headline and a previous article by Mike Small makes it clear that he considers smacking a child to be an assault, what is generally viewed as a criminal act.
    Growing up in the 1950s, children being smacked was something that happened. From my own experience, I would say it didn’t happen that often. Plainly, at that time those involved – including me – did not see it as assault.
    Were they wrong and Mike Small correct ?
    I think not.
    The SNP government – and the Scottish left in general – have few if any ideas for dealing with serious problems such as ‘educational apartheid.’
    Banning smacking is displacement activity, following on from a pointless law against football supporters and the ill-thought out mess of the Named Persons Act.
    It will win the support on the margins but reinforce the widespread view among voters that the SNP has been given a chance and been found wanting.

    1. Jim Bennett says:

      In Scotland, smacking children is considered, as a fact in law, as an “assault”. The question as to whether this assault is legal or illegal, depends on its “justification”. It is not Mike Small who considers smacking children as an assault, it is the law of Scotland which considers it an assault.

    2. Pogliaghi says:

      Thankyou Florian Albert. It is more than a displacement activity though: it’s real effective policy, for good or for worse, but more importantly (qua distraction and displacement) is, it is distraction and displacement *with fireworks*. It is a way to start an unbelievably rancorous and loaded conversation about values that divides the country generationally and culturally more deeply into us-and-them. Was that effect considered when this particular Green concession was chosen, and if so is it perhaps a clear sign of things to come; of an SNP abandoning making rational choices to consolidate a sympathetic overall majority. Because if so, it means indy is not seriously on their agenda.

  4. Claire says:

    Wow. Hard to fathom an article having this title. Try replacing Christians with Jews/Muslims/Hindus/Buddhists, and you’ll see what I mean.

    It strikes me that the issue is of a minority part of what is now surely a minority faith having a different opinion from the author. Why such an upset? Are they likely to “win” in terms of this legislation? Should the real ire not be reserved for the Tories?

    And although I’m thoroughly *for* this legislation being passed, I think it’s a bit disingenuous to conflate assault with a rap over the knuckles. When you’ve experienced actual assault (as I have), one knows the difference. This sensible legislation allows us not to have to arrive at gradations. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any.

    But finally, having been encouraged (hectored) into expressing how I as a progressive Christian will respond, my response is to wonder aloud whether the writers of this piece wish “progressive Muslims” to respond to terrorist events being carried out in their faith’s name? I would argue there is no response required because these events/organisations do not represent them, and nor does the Christian Institute or any other organisations detailed here represent me.

    1. Claire the legal term as it currently stands is “justified assault”

      1. Claire says:

        I note you haven’t responded to the substantive part of my comment. I repeat that I am for assault being legislated against.
        My comment is more about why you have branded Christians in the way that you have in the title and asking “progressive Christians” to respond.

    2. Wul says:

      Isn’t the headline’s point that, in all likelihood, the Christian Institute is not very Christian at all?

      From the article, it seems it’s likely to be using the guise of Christian values to give it a veneer of respectability and benevolence when in fact it is helping to promote the interests of corporations over citizens.

      My reading of the sentence about “progressive Christians” was that real Christians may be concerned that the name of their faith is being used in a way that is underhand and misleading.

      It seems unfair to criticise an author for using the word “Christians” in the title of an article about the Christian Institute.

  5. Alba woman says:

    Why do people believe for a second that their children belong to them? A child is a precious gift. Lifting your hand and inflicting pain upon a child is unacceptable and ultimately damaging to all involved.

    1. Pamela says:

      Who does the child belong to then?alba woman? The Scottish state perhaps?!ive read some tosh but the editor and follow up comments lead to a pitiful debate…on this subject…and pitiful leads me on nicely to the greens …they could pretty much suggest any policy and say jump and the snp would say how high…they(and on the other side of the spectrum)are the dup…the tail wagging the dog..which the main parties are fearful of in both Scotland and Westminster.,.for fear of losing power.,or their totalitarian grip to be ones saying battering your kids is acceptable..but don’t spread tosh or scaremongering about the people against it…it’s as healthy as clouting your child…you can’t whinge constantly about the biased media when you are doing the same and pining for control of these channels from the other side.,,lets have another referendum on hitting your kids…I love referendums!!!

  6. milgram says:

    I do wonder what’s so important to a Christian group about this issue, it seems irrational to me.
    Best guesses include “Biblical literalist attachment to the ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’ verse” and it being their version of a far-left group’s “wedge issue” that they can use to draw in wider support.

  7. Kenny says:

    I’m sure Mr. Small would argue to the death that as long as the baby remains in the womb, a mother has the absolute right to kill it. Funny old world.

  8. Jim Bennett says:

    Chatting with my 6 year old over tea the other night. I told her that it was going to be against the law for people to be able to hit children. “What????” she says “It’s the law that people can hit children?” Well, I say, actually in Scotland you can “assault” children as long as you have a justification. She is visibly shocked.
    I’ve come along way in my child rearing from chasing my now 29 year old up the stairs 20 something years ago intent on giving her a skelping for beating up her brother. I never caught her (and am eternally relieved about that) but what was I actually thinking? Yes, hitting your brother is wrong so I’m going to hit you to show you how wrong hitting is? FFS, what a dick.
    Listening to the BBC phone in with a good minority defending the law that allows the assault of children made me cringe, utterly cringe. I’ve heard all the “I got hit as a child and it never did me any harm” stuff. Well, I got hit as a child and frankly, it has done me and most Scottish men real, tangible and lasting damage.
    Thank goodness for the Greens and the SNP in putting this legislation through. Scotland could become civilised yet.

  9. Duncan MacLaren says:

    As a Roman Catholic, can I say how much I agree with your comments on the so-called Christian Institute. The central tenet of the Christian faith, no matter its denomination, is love and that lot have put bigotry before love and are basically, to use an old-fashioned word but one I love, heretics. So please humanists realise that not all those of us who profess the Christian faith are in their ilk and we have common cause in condemning them because they are anti-human.

  10. Eddie Hallahan says:

    Obviously the articles authors have some major gripe against Christians for some reason as can be seen from the headline and the subsequent tone of the article. That being said I actually think that banning smacking is the right way to go. There are much better ways of bringing up children than by trying to control them through fear and punishment. I would hope however that in terms of enforcement of this area of the law the penalties being meted out would be better parenting classes, parental coaching etc rather than criminalising parents.

    I’m also curious how all the fervent champions of the right of the child to be protected from harm by their parents all fall silent if the child is still in the womb? Where are all the outraged posts about all the children, both boys and girls, having so much violence done to them that they die? Where are the calls to change the law to protect those children?

    1. I have no major gripe against Christians. Indeed ‘some of my best friends are Christians’.

      & yes I do support a woman’s right to choose and control her own body.

      1. Pamela says:

        And are some of your friends also black ? Or perhaps Catholics?like I alluded to earlier this nonsensical argument you generally get on Bella about tedious issues that the Scottish government(and the greens 2 cheeks of the same arse copyright g.Galloway last century)is to promote minority issues that the majority of the populus care not a jot about..deflect economic facts in the face of their goal..and bang on about the biased media whilst wanting/craving the chance to do the same…in fact replace those words with desperate to do that..turning on fellow scots( no bad thing ok)by trying to put them in folders as y they voted no..,instead of embracing them and encouraging them to fight the Tories with my job I could easily persuade I think even on my own gather the momentum for a 6percent swing for a yes vote..but I’d need to consider/convince them that they weren’t voting for the Bella editor forever or salmond whose horrific endorsement I’ve just watched on you tube of catholic schools aren’t going to be the future…listen to my words…lose the aggression and the vengeance…appeal to all scots then you are on easy street..don’t be smart arse cos you may or may not be more articulate than those in feegie Park that voted no …show compassion ghandi…to your own people..then and only then will you end bro liberalism..

  11. Alan McGinley says:

    There’s an excellent diagram out there showing the underground transport networks between Celtic FC, Glasgow City Chambers and the Vatican. The hidden Fenian hand. It’s very funny.

    So, Bella Caledonia thinks that it’s uncovered a covert conspiracy of bad ass dudes seeking to undermine the Scottish body politic? All you’ve pointed out is that there are groups and organisations that coalesce around socially conservative ideas. They have money and they buy PR. You then draw in Spiked with the specious, “shared ideology and press coverage”. Seriously? Why not have a wee diagram with an arrow between Spiked and BPAS? After all, they’re both pro-abortion and, guess what, Frank and Ann Furedi are married!

    Children’s charities are hardly the outsiders in mainstream political debate in Scotland. The smacking debate is not being subverted by outside interference or even a fifth column of covert influences.

    If this is how socially conservative points of view are measured, hell mend us.

    1. Do share the hidden Fenian Hand Alan – sounds (Fasc)inating

      1. Alan McGinley says:

        Scroll down the twitter feed (about 5 down) and you’ll find a pictorial representation

        Alternatively, source yourself a copy of Unrepentant Internet Bampots and fill your boots.

        Btw, (Fasc)inating? Not sure I follow.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.