God card could be Haass's ace: 'Christian Pledge' plan to cross the political divide

Dr John Coulter with a piece that initially featured in the Irish Daily Star on 2 September 2013
Take the Christian Pledge – that's the best advice diplomatic guru Richard Haass can give Northern politicians. 

The Yank's ace card at stabilising the peace process is to get the Christian denominations to draw up a pledge which candidates can sign up to in forthcoming polls. 

Okay, the sceptics will mouth off that it has been religion which has fuelled the last eight centuries of sectarian strife in Ireland. 

Now the Churches have a real chance to redeem themselves. Firstly, ALL Christians must register to vote. 

If every Northern voter who professes to be a true Christian would come out to vote, think how the political map would be radically changed. 

In Unionism, voter apathy has seen traditionally safe Protestant seats fall to nationalists. 

The hardline anti-Catholicism pressure group, the Caleb Foundation, at one time claimed to represent 200,000 Northern evangelical Christians. 

Was this wishful thinking, downright exaggerated lies, or the reality that many genuine 'born-again' believers may be loyal to their faith, but have no faith in the ballot box? 

Granted, Haass has to find solutions to three of the toughest obstacles to confront the peace process since 1998's Good Friday Agreement. 

These are contentious parades, flags and emblems, and dealing with the past; any one of which could permanently scupper Stormont. 

This is especially true if the newly emerging violent dissident loyalist movement starts acting like Syrian boss Assad and unleashes indiscriminate slaughter all round them. 

Another Haass headache is even if he succeeds in getting all the parties around a table, those politicians will be more focussed on major elections over the next three years rather than stabilising the peace process. 

Northern voters will have the European, super council, Westminster and Stormont polls between 2014 and 2016. 

Let's swallow a reality pill – what party cares about making sacrifices for the peace process when there are vital seats to be won? 

Both Hume's Stoops and Trimble's UUP stuck their necks out for peace – and both their parties are on the verge of electoral meltdown and political oblivion. 

Haass must rely on the Christian Churches to come up with a Christian Pledge which candidates can sign up to.

But the Churches must ensure they can mobilise their flocks to get out of the pews and into the polling stations. 

While there are numerous issues which radically divide republicans and unionists, there are equally numerous basic Biblical values which firmly unite substantial numbers of Catholics and Protestants.

The Christian Pledge could feature the following demands – scrap gay marriage, ban abortion, end quickie divorces, special cash boosts such as massive rent and rates rebates for all places of worship, Creation taught in science as an equal footing with evolution, Religious Education as a compulsory part of the school curriculum, and morning Christian assembly in all workplaces and schools.

The danger is that Christians will become bogged down in arguments over doctrine, such as which denomination is the true Church, baptism, music in church, dress codes, Biblical translations and how to get into heaven. 

But let's be positive. The Churches will devise a Christian Pledge which can be read out from all Northern pulpits and urging flocks to give first preferences only to those candidates who sign up to the Christian Pledge.

Religion was the cause of many problems in Ireland, but the Churches can provide Haass with the perfect solution. 

It is time to return real political power to the pulpit. The cry must be simple but loud – Christians awake!


  1. So what are you going to do John, Kick all the immigrants out who are not christian , also those who no longer believe in this bull shit.

    I remember Burntollet, A so called christian preacher, "Big Ian", shouting, "Kill The Fenian Bastards".

    Stuff your money racket Religion up your back side, and enjoy it.

    Your way off thinking would put us back to the beginning.

  2. John-

    " Starts acting like Syrian boss Assad and unleashes indiscriminate slaughter all around them "

    I know I am on the right road when the likes of john thinks Al Qaeda
    are in Syria giving out kisses and medicine-I support the Syrian people fighting of a terrorist plot who are armed by the
    CIA-9/11 supporters like John sicken me-and he is trying to give us Peace lovers advice-

  3. Well just wow. I am an Atheist, my wife is an Atheist from North America, my kids are raised non religious and were born in North America. Does that mean that we have no political input into where we live? Do you have to be religious to have a say?
    I just can not believe this guy holds a PhD.

  4. Also to add.

    I find it horrid that he instead of letting people select whether or not to be religious and which religion that may be. He wishes for it to be shoved down the throats of innocent kids in school. One major aspect I am opposed to as a parent. Religion should play zero role in a child's education. His comments on sexuality are just bigoted and vile. Creationism should be taught in schools?? really? is he on drugs. Jesus ran around with dinosaurs, just 6,000 years ago. As a Computer Physics student, I take huge offensive to this mans ideas. If we ever invent a time machine, I promise I will send him back to the 1600's where he belongs!!!!