Episode 10 The Big Questions

Episode 10

Nicky Campbell presents live debates. Is it our moral duty to stand up to Russia? Does Clare's law go far enough? Can children be damaged by fundamentalist religions?

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Today on The Big Questions, standing up to Russia, the right to know


about a partner's violent past, and being the child of a fundamentalist.


Good morning. I'm Nicky Campbell. Welcome to The Big Questions. Today,


we are live from Michaelston Community College in Cardiff.


Welcome to our audience and welcome to everybody! Next Sunday, the


people of Crimea will vote on whether they want to remain part of


the Ukraine or to join Russia. In just two weeks, Ukraine has changed


from being a country about to sign and Association agreement with the


EU to one which may lose not only Crimea, but also its eastern


territories to its powerful neighbour. 20 years ago, the UK, the


USA and Russia are all signed an agreement which guaranteed


Ukraine's current borders, in return for them giving up nuclear weapons.


America has sent fighter jets Poland and is talking tough about economic


sanctions. But some commentators have said it is the worst crisis


since the end of the Cold War, or since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis,


or even since Hitler's annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938. Our


government stopped Prince Edward from attending the Paralympics


opening ceremony in Sochi. They are thinking about placing visa


restrictions on some of the wealthy Russian oligarchs in large parts of


London and seizing some of their assets, unless it upsets the City.


We heard from William Hague on the Andrew Marr programme that


ultimately, energy may be one of the sanctions considered. Is it our


moral duty to stand up to Russia? Sir Graham Watson, MEP, you have


used those words, 1938, in this context. Explain that? I think it is


our moral duty to stand up to Russia. What is happening is


equivalent to Hitler's annexation of the Sudetenland in 1938. Putin is


trying to exercise what he considers to be his right to intervene


militarily in what would once upon a time have been described as


Russia's sphere of influence. At the world has moved on. You can't do


that. In doing so, Putin is abrogating a number of agreements,


not only the Budapest agreement from 1994, but also his commitments to


the Council of Europe conventions and so on. We must defend the


Ukrainians. Ukraine is a unitary state, and must be defended. Go in?


What does that mean? Well, it starts with where we are, what the European


Union agreed on Thursday, which was that we have already stopped talks


with Russia towards a new EU- Russia agreement and the talks on visa


liberalisation. We have said but unless Putin withdraws his troops to


basis, we will take targeted sanctions against individual


Russians, which is difficult for Putin to bear, because they hold a


lot of assets in western Europe and other places. There are lots of very


wealthy Russians around. Moreover, the European Union has said that if


Russia destabilises Crimea even further, there will be far reaching


economic and political consequences. I think it is right not to define


that to precisely, but it may have to involve military action. Nobody


wants that. Military action? Nobody wants it. With Russia? What are you


talking about? This is precisely the question being asked. Can you


intervene militarily if you have to? If so, how do you do so? Nobody is


arguing that we are going to fight a ground war against Russia? I hope it


will not come to that, because I believe we have enough power to


bring the Russians to the negotiating table without military


action. Professor Geoffrey Pridham, should all cards be on the table?


Even military? I agree, that should be the ultimate option. But we


should try everything else. There are economic sanctions, and also


propaganda. But in's began the towards the West at the moment is


pretty hard, and we should respond equally. We need a combination of


firmness plus diplomacy. The military action is behind all that.


If all else fails, you can never say you will not use the military


action, because that gives Putin an extra card to play with. You have


some support. Jeremy Corbyn, MP, this is worrying. We have a man who


has basically breached international treaties and moved into another


country. What my colleague was saying seemed to be a recipe for war


and incredibly dangerous. I do not support that. You have more support


than they did. I do not support Russian military action, and that


does have to be a peace process and the process of demilitarisation of


Ukraine and sticking to the original non-nuclear agreement. But the


hypocrisy of the West is unbelievable on this. Where was the


legality on the war in Iraq? Where was the legality on so many of the


other interventions made elsewhere? If one reads carefully what all the


Ukrainian forces are saying, yes, there is a nasty far right force in


Ukraine at the present time which is part of the government. There is


also a more live oral grouping in the Ukraine. There is also a large


Russian grouping in the Ukraine who clearly have loyalties towards


Russia. Does Ukraine break-up? That is a matter for the Ukrainian


people. At the idea that we should move the whole thing in rhetoric


towards a military war against Russia seems to me a disaster. You


mentioned 1938, Sir Graham, and the Nazis. Jeremy Corbyn makes the point


that some in the government have been described as Nazis, the Deputy


Prime Minister included, in Ukraine. These are not nice people to deal


with, are they? There was a law two years ago to introduce Russian as


the second official language at a regional level. The new government


decided to reverse this. That is now regarded as a mistake in having


provoked Putin. I have a feeling that that was one influence behind


his action in the Crimea. There are concerns on the Russian side, but


Putin has nevertheless broken serious international agreements.


The referendum in Crimea is also illegal. The Ukrainian constitution


allows referendums across the whole country, not just one region. As to


the moral arguments here, I think we are in a potential prewar situation.


It is not just about Crimea, it is about European security in general.


I have been living in the Baltic states. There is concerned there


that there could be a threat exploiting the Russian minorities in


those states. You are just back from Latvia. Are they worried there? Very


worried. There has been an intense increase in worry over the last ten


days. The prime minister made a statement that there was no threat


to Latvian security for the moment, she said. That is unambiguous


statement. I think we have got ourselves into this problem. Our


foreign policy has been a mess since the end of the Cold War. Frank Lee,


the EU, pushing ever eastward since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, we


have been wooing the Ukrainians to join the EU. Russia thinks we have


been encouraging the uprising in Ukraine. When that uprising


happened, it made Russian intervention inevitable. There was


no way Putin or any Russian leader would allow a major naval base in a


potential EU member state. There is also no way he would allow a


successful revolution to happen in Ukraine, on Russia's doorstep, when


it sets a precedent at home. I take the point about the analogy with


Hitler, but he is aligning himself with the interests of the Russian


ethnic people. It puzzles me how the West has been blinded by the


inevitability of the action that has had. I worry about the potential for


military conflict, but we have got ourselves in a situation where we


are hooked on Russian gas and Russian cash. We have been cutting


our military forces and we are in open session to stand up literally


to Russia. -- we are in no position to stand up to them. Dealing with


the situation of the naval base, the Crimea was put into the Ukraine by


Russia back in 1954 by Khrushchev. The Russians have a lease on that


naval base until 2047. Ukrainians have said nothing about terminating


the lease. It is clear that they have the right to use that naval


base for another 30 years. An Ukraine, I am not sure the European


Union has been pushing east, but what we have seen in Ukraine,


Georgia, Armenia and a number of other countries, people have been


saying, we would like to come closer to the European Union. So is your


interpretation of pushing east expanding democracy and civic


society and the rule of law? I would say the Ukrainians have been


demonstrating in favour of those things, and wanting their own


government to sign this new partnership that the Georgians and


Moldovans have signed. It was when Viktor Yanukovych pulled out under


pressure from Russia last November that there were all the


demonstrations in Kiev which led to the overthrow of Yanukovych and a


new government. We have to insist to the Ukrainians that they have free


and fair elections and elect a new government. But Viktor Yanukovych


was democratically elected. There was an agreement to have elections


later this year anyway, and there was a strong argument that the


removal of Yanukovych was not within the Ukrainian custard you should. Do


you think it was legitimate? -- it was not within the Ukrainian


constitution. But the wider issue is that the EU has got very close to


NATO. NATO has been pushing hard to expand eastwards. Inevitably, Russia


will get nervous if NATO sets up places around it orders. That


encourages Russian military is. Can't we go back to the point where


Ukraine was a nuclear free country that was not going to be a member of


any alliance, either with Russia or with NATO, and start to demilitarise


the situation and allow a proper debate for people to decide their


own future in Ukraine? It seems to me that there is a terrible danger


of a rush to a combination of an economic and military war, and


goodness knows what the consequences will be. I welcome to the audience


in a minute to find out what they think. It is potentially an


apocalyptic scenario. Jeffrey, do you want to come back 's eye would


point out that the February 21 agreement that Yanukovych side fell


flat, because he fled the following day. So that escalated the


situation. This was a Ukrainian revolution. Putin does not like it,


but it was a revolution which reacted against Yanukovych. Not just


against him failing to sign the agreement, but also against his


corrupt regime. You could see this in the build-up to the crisis. Would


Baroness Ashton go to Greece and support the opponents of the


austerity measures there? No, she would not. She is happy to go to


Ukraine and join a demonstration where there are fascists present in


order to get rid of an elected government there. You can't have it


both ways on elected governments. Russia is effect of league -- has


effectively annexed Crimea. Putin knew that we would half and puff and


that our hands were empty. Are we weak? Yes, and we have got ourselves


into that position. We need to get our foreign policy sorted out and be


clear on our national interests. He has been able to do this because we


are weak. He has a clear view about where he wants to take Russia. I


agree, it is scary and nationalistic and expansionist, but we have


enabled him to do it because we have nothing in our hand except sanctions


and not inviting him to the G-7. Putin has done this because he is


weak. It is true that we are weak, and the biggest card Putin has is


Russian oil and gas and our dangerous dependence on it. I hope


that if one thing comes out of this, it is that we start to develop


alternatives. We do a lot of trade with them. We have a lot of energy,


we have all that Russian money in London and other places. So anything


we do will be cutting off our nose to spite our face. I would not say


anything we do, but certain things could of course be damaging to both


sides. But Putin is increasingly isolated in Russia, and he is


playing to the gallery back home. He is playing the populist card. I


would go back to Churchill. In some ways, that interdependency stops us


fighting. It ought to. It didn't in 1914, and I am surprised that


parallels are being drawn historically. But one of the


parallels is not being drawn, which is that with 1914. After 1945, there


was the creation of an effective international organisation to manage


crises. I am surprised that we have not heard to work this morning,


United Nations. -- two words. That is surely where any talk of


sanctions or international action should be taken place. I am


surprised that nobody seems to be engaging that organisation, when


that is what it is there to do. But of course, with Russia's permanent


place on the Security Council, it cancels itself out. Well, the UN, if


it takes a one-sided decision, will get vetoed by somebody, so it


can't. Therefore, it falls to the UN to try to bring the sides together


and pursue a process of demilitarisation. But I am alarmed


by the weather NATO general secretary seems to be ramping up the


anti-all the time . It is not his job to promote wars. He is meant to


be answerable to a number of governments. He appears to be


behaving as though he is a free agent who can say and do what he


likes and develop this dangerous scenario. Ukraine has been a war


ground in Europe for two centuries. Millions have died from famine, war,


occupation and disasters. Let's not visit that upon them again . Lest


try and deescalate and demilitarise and try and bring about some kind of


peace process which will guarantee a peaceful future for those people and


for Europe. I don't believe we have the moral legitimacy to intervene. I


believe throughout history Britain has contributed to terror through


propping up authoritarian regimes. An example was 1953 when we


overthrew the Iranian Government. MI6 with the help of the CIA did


that. Harold Wilson's Government in the '60s help helping General


Suharto come to power in Indonesia leading to many deaths. And then the


Iraq war, which even Kofi Annan said was illegal. Even Bam, if you look


at drone strikes and how that's caused the deaths of hundreds of


civilians, if you look at the two principles of the patterns of life


and secondary strikes. This has been documented by Stamford Law


University. So we have no moral plinth to stand on. Good morning. I


agree with you and the gentleman there, because I think, as the


Bishop said, we do have bullies in our world. There've been many


examples, Saddam Hussein among one of them. I think the trouble with


our reaction is that there is a knee-jerk reaction by our


Governments I think every time in these cases. Either they are quiet


and apathetic and then they do something crazy. I don't think we


are in a position to judge. Our position is very grave. We are not


at the front. We are not Latvia, we are not in that region. We intereven


if with far too many things. None of our business? To a certain degree.


Sir Graham, you think it is our business very much, but have we just


lost the moral authority here because of recent years and going


further back, as that gentleman says, we are in no position to


judge. I think it is absolutely in our country's interests to uphold


international law. I don't defend everything that's been done in other


armed conflicts that have happened recently. I think we have made


mistakes. We are not the only ones to have made mistakes, the Russians


have, and others. But here we have a real interest as the United Kingdom


in upholding international law. What Putin has done is clearly to ride


roughshod over international law. That's why we have to act. Nobody's


talking about military intervention. Military intervention would have to


be a last resort, but my question to Jeremy Corbyn would be this. What do


you do, try to negotiate by all means, that's what we are trying to


do, but what if Russia go ahead with this referendum on Sunday in the


Crimea, a referendum down the barrel of a gun. As Stalin said, power in


politics is not with those who cast the votes but those who count them.


The Ukrainians themselves have asked the West to come in and help. In my


view we should help. You have the last word on this, Jeremy Corbyn.


And MP is a Hoon -- and Mr Putin has expressed admiration with Josef


Stalin, one of the biggest mass murderers in history. What if he


does go through with this? He is a popular Russian leader. Public


support for Russia isn't easy great as they thinks or a lot of other


people think. I'm not sure that the Russian people, having lost so many


in Afghanistan, want to see Russian lives lost in Ukraine any more than


people in this country want to see us going into a ludicrous futile war


that has to end up with a political settlement. All wars end with a


political settlement. Let's not start with the building up of Armed


Forces, moving fighter pilots to Poland. Negotiate through. The West


has no moral authority to lecture on this after drone strikes, after


Iraq, after so many other internal coups and conflicts around the


world. Hand the thing back to the UN to try to bring about a peace


process and de-escalate the rhetoric, which has been in danger


of plunging us into a catastrophic war with nuclear implications.


APPLAUSE Thank you very much indeed. We are debating this morning does


Clare's law go far enough? And can children be damaged in


fundamentalist religions? Get tweeting or send us any other ideas


or thoughts you may have about the show.


This weekend with the launch of Clare's Law which have obtained the


right to check with the police if a new partner has previous convictions


for violence against women. It is named after Clare Wood, who was


strangled and set on fire by a man she had met true the internet.


Unbeknown to her he had spent three years in prison for harassing


another woman and had previously served six months for breaking a


restraining order. Now, any woman has the right to ask whether a man


who a violent past, but also the police have the right not to tell


her all that they know. Does Clare's law go far enough? Morgan, you've


worked with women who've had terrible experiences in their lives.


We've seen surveys which are breathtaking, the amount of women in


our country should have been subject to physical and sexual violence. I


saw one survey saying it was one in three. Do you believe it is that


widespread? Yes. I think we can see violence against women and girls,


and domestic violence is probably the most present component of that


violent expression within certainly in Wales. Are the police doing


enough? It used to be said, it is just a domestic. Those days are gone


aren't they? They are not entirely gone. We do have two different


approaches to the law. If a woman is violently attacked by somebody on


the street, then there are laws in place where that person would be


arrested if it was a stranger. However, because it happens in our


private space, if you like, there are different ways of applying that


law. I have to say though that police, particularly over the last


five years, have certainly picked up apace and there's strong leadership


from the top to actually kind of take more action and not see


domestic violence as a purely domestic issue. So we are making


some progress. Some progress. Michael, you've fought for this for


your daughter and it is a great achievement and it is a tribute to


your dedication and steadfastness that this has come about, but is


there still a problem with the police? Well, I would hate to


correct you. I didn't do this for my daughter. I couldn't do anything for


my daughter. I've done this for girls in the future and in the


present. What happened to my daughter was tragic. What happens to


girls in this country, anything between 100 and 150 every year -- 15


every year, men and women meet a violent death - 120. They meet a


violent death. For every one of those that died there was two people


like me, mothers, fathers, I didn't count, brothers, sisters, sons,


daughters, beganies, grandfather grandfathers. -- grannies,


grandfathers. The ripples fall out. My granddaughter is the biggest


loser in this. She is now 15. She's got to go through her life without


the arm of her mother round her, without the concern of her mother


round her. She's going to have to explain to her children why they


don't have a grandma. I didn't do what I have done, I want wanted to


trumpet what had happened to my daughter so that people woke up in


this country. I don't believe that half the population were getting the


support that they deserved. And had it not been for a young lady like


Michelle, without hazel Blears or the Bolton coroner, Mrs Leeming.


This would have never got off the ground. Does it go far enough


though? It is easy enough to get someone's driving licence details.


These convictions are a matter of record. These people have been in


court. Yes, my sentiments exactly. Where was the secrecy? If it had


already been in court and in the papers, why did the police not tell


my daughter, he's done this before, get your bum out of here?


APPLAUSE Why not? Why not? Why can't you just give


this information to people. It is up to Parliament to decide what the


rules are. They have had a look at this, they've listened carefully...


Well what do you think? Let me explain this first. They've listened


carefully to the arguments. Looked at the situation through three pilot


schemes and the changes in procedure have come about. There are tests


that have to be applied, whether we like it or not. These come from


reasonableness and proportion at. That's what the European Convention


on Human Rights says. The Government is moving in that field. They have


had to make that choice against that background. What they have done is


to decide on the basis of these three pilot schemes there can be


proportionate releases of information in extreme


circumstances. It's a big change in process and procedure. It can take


up to 35 days and those could be the most dangerous 35 days of a woman's


life. What the rules say clearly is a pressing need. There there is an


immediate case conference. One's got to say that on the basis of three


pilot schemes, the Home Secretary sanctioned it, if Parliament wants


to change the rules around criminal confidentiality, they have to make


that choice. Don't give me pressing need. 2006-2009, the head of ACPO


and a Chief Constable of Wiltshire did an indopeth survey into domestic


violence. I was handed it at my daughter's coroner's inquiry. He had


already come to that conclusion. So we are going back eight years to


2006 before he started picking up. I got to the Home Secretary, myself


and my son, on the Thursday. On the Tuesday, Clare's law was trialed. I


was a cherry on the cake. There was a lot of clever people long before I


had opened my cakehole to move this on. I was the one - I don't know if


it was the nature of my daughter's death, the timing of my daughter's


death, but it did something to decide who woke up to the fact that


there's domestic violence on a huge scale in this country and it is


being swept under the carpet. APPLAUSE Amanda, do you have


concerns about this law? How far it could go? I think, the main thing to


say is that it is great to have a law that raises the profile of


domestic violence, which is such a huge, huge problem. I don't have an


issue really with the police's ability the make a disclosure when


they deem that there is a significant risk of harm, which they


had the power to do before Clare... It is different difficult to


calibrate that. It is. They this the power to do that before Clare's law.


If we look at the 400 applications made under Clare's law so to date


there've been 100 disclosures. The police have determined those


individuals plenty a clear risks. There is not a problem with those


100 disclosures. It is what we can say about the 300 other cases where


the police felt there wasn't enough information to make a determination.


We know that domestic violence is hugely underreported. The majority


of victims will never tell the police about the violence that they


suffer. The cases that do come to police attention are extremely


unlikely to result in a conviction. We are asking the police to make a


determination on data that is largely absent. We are lulling


victims into a false sense of security for that reason. What about


those with no convictions? Clare's Law covers that, because it is about


instances that have been brought to police attention. A couple of


points. Firstly, it is not a change in the law. We call it Clare's Law


because it is an emotive term, which is helpful. It is not a change in


law, it is a change in procedure which has been given official


sanction. And it is not just the police, there is a multi-agency


panel that sits behind this. One could argue that they may get this


process wrong, but there is a clear process that people go through all


stop I just wanted to correct those impressions that might be given if


you don't know enough about it. They determined that there was enough


information in some cases that they could suggest that there was a risk


of harm. I know you mentioned that there were 400 applications and


maybe 100 of those were disclosed, but those 400 people who made those


applications, whether they were disclosed to or not, they are then


passed on information about where to go for support in the future. It is


a tool. That is information that those people may not have had if


they were not in that situation. What about those people who, in the


first flush of love, you have faith in love, isn't the last thing you


are going to do decide to run a few checks first? With Clare's Law, it


is not about checking up. If somebody starts to show some form of


controlling behaviour or violence. Oh, he will change! Or she will.


Yes, you can hope he or she will change. But as a campaigner, I do a


lot of research with domestic abuse charities. A lot of people signed my


petition to get this scheme past. One woman said to me that when she


first drug of a relationship with a man -- when she first struck up a


relationship with a man, his ex-wife said to her, he hit me, it will not


be long before he starts on you. She said, I just thought it was sour


grapes. Had this law been in place, she was adamant that at least that


would have been a gateway for her to just check. So you will get those


who are caught up in love and they do think he will change. But if the


police said, he does actually have a record, then you know it is not your


fault and this man is a serial perpetrator. But it is not the


woman's fault ever. Or the man's fault, it does happen the other day


way. Yes, but it is not the victim's four. We need to take a


stand against domestic violence . The only way to inoculate people


against that is by starting, at an early age in school, really


enlightening people about what a healthy relationship looks like,


giving them a different lens on the world. I appreciate that raising the


Clare's Law scheme is helpful, but once again, you are putting


responsibility on the victim to check out, when actually, a huge


proportion of the hymns don't even recognise that they are in an


abusive relationship. But the way Clare's Law works enables other


people to raise the issue with the police as well, so it is not all on


the victim. But that requires a public understanding of what


domestic is. And I think this change in procedure is a good thing, but it


must go wide in hand with other initiatives and support services. We


are implementing Clare's Law nationally at the same time that


services are being cut. 200 women a day are not being provided with a


refuge space when they ask for it. So how can we be implementing a law


that is aimed at increasing safety for victims at the same time that


services that are known to provide safety are not being given the


financial support they need? Some people have said this should be


extended beyond sexual and violent abuse to psychological abuse as


well. A lot of people say they live with that. So how far do we spread


the net? Yes. Well, when we started this off, we did not come across


what this young lady has just said, the closure of homes, no


after-care. The government seem to have wiped their hands one way or


another. And it is serial. It moves on. Everybody seems to think it is a


working class disease. It is everywhere. It is rife. For all the


people who put up objections, I wear slip on shoes, not because I can't


tie a knot. I want to pull them off and say, stand in my shoes for two


minutes, and you will know what pain is. You will know what it does to


people's lives. I don't sit here and pontificate. There are clever people


in this country, contrary to what a lot of us seem to think. There are


people in this country who can make this work. What do you think of the


psychological abuse angle? It is taken into account. You don't have


to wait for a man or woman to use physical violence. So it can just be


constant psychological abuse? Yes, if you are feeling intimidated or


controlled, that is how domestic abuse darts. But someone is unlikely


to have a criminal record for that. At at the same time, if there is


nothing to disclose, that person will be given ad vice and help and


is alerted to the fact of domestic abuse. One thing everyone has in


common here is the fact that we are talking about domestic. That is what


Clare's Law has one. It is not the solution, but it has raised the


issue of funding and it has got the government talking about it. If it


saves one life... If it saves one life, the four year campaign and the


team behind Clare's Law have achieved what has been worth all the


suffering, all the travelling and all the heartache we have had to go


through. The Bishop? In terms of talking about problems like this, it


is wonderful that it is out in the open. But you made the point earlier


about people wanting to be in a loving relationship. I recall,


before I was ordained, when I was in the law, in matrimonial dispute


situations, one would sometimes be faced with a battered spouse in the


office who would want some sort of immediate relief. And it was


possible to go Dwain Chambers and get an emergency injunction and then


a couple of days later, there would be a full hearing -- it was possible


to go to a chamber. And although this did not happen all the time, I


have seen cases several times where at the second hearing, it was


usually the wife who had sought the injunction in the first place, and


she would say, I have taken him back. He has promised he will not do


it again. And then of course, he often did do it again. We are


talking about complex human relationships. One of the huge


issues we have is that we don't have enough understanding about this


behaviour. Should people be given a chance to change? Yes, absolutely.


Women who have been affected by violence and abusive relationships


need change programmes to help them get back on track and deal with the


psychological and emotional damage. And perpetrators also need


programmes where they can change their behaviour. There are good ones


out there. Michael, I will come to you in the next debate. These social


predators slink through our society, spreading despair and despondency.


And as has been pointed out here, they are sometimes never picked up.


We have a cash cow in this country called the motorist. I can sit in a


car and tell you in a second that your car has been road taxed,


insured, has its MOT, who the driver and the owner is, and has it been


involved in a crime or drugs, in an instant. You want it to be that


easy? It should be made that easy. I believe the police have a national


computer at present which has 25,000 serial perpetrators on their books.


If that could be expanded, that would and so a lot of the questions


here. -- it would answer a lot of questions. It is not always to


remove the woman out of the violent situation, it is to take the man out


of the violent situation. Thank you all for your thoughts.


You can join in all this morning's debates by logging onto the


website. Or you can tweet. Tell us what you think about our last big


question. Can children be damaged in fundamentalist religions? If you you


would like to be in the audience at a future show, you can e-mail us. We


will be in Newcastle upon Tyne next week, Southampton on March the 23rd


and Glasgow the week after that. The mayor of London, Boris Johnson,


has called for Muslim children who are at risk of being radicalised


their parents to be taken into care. He says it is a form of child


abuse. Now a jihadist plot run by fundamentalist Muslims to take over


schools in Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester and run them according to


strict Islamic principles has been exposed. In the past, the courts


have barred a Christian couple from being foster parents cos of their


biblical views on homosexuality, and on this programme, we often have


under mentalist believers who reject scientifically accepted ideas and


think wives should always submit to their husbands full up religious


beliefs and modern liberal values are often in conflict. Can children


be damaged by fundamentalist religions? Jonny Scaramanga, you


were educated in a fundamentalist school. What were you taught? I was


taught that I should not be friends with non-Christians. The first week


I was there, the principal of the school taught us a sermon which


said, birds of a feather must flock together. She said I should not be


friends with non-Christians. And hell? Of course. We did not even


need to talk about how, because it did for granted that everyone who


did not believe what we believed was going to hell. But because those


people were going to hell and they were evil and that there was a risk


that they could corrupt as if we interacted with them, we were


advised not to have interaction with other people. We were also taught at


we ourselves were wicked because we were depraved because of sin, and it


was only because of Jesus in us that there was anything good enough at


all. It is a crushing thing to tell a child in terms of their


self-esteem. You are an evangelical Christian, Liz. You don't believe


that dinosaurs and people were on the earth at the same time, although


some people do. But that is bonkers, and it will limit their


career opportunities, clearly! But hell is important to your belief,


isn't it? What would you teach a child? That it exists. And who is


going there? Anybody who hasn't put their faith in Jesus and his death


on the cross to pay for their sins. It is important to understand the


difference between guidance and coercion. You have already said that


Mustafa is going to hell. And me. You can go the Heaven and it is your


choice if you decide to reject it. But you have to accept Jesus? I


have. That's fine. I I'll see you in hell then. It is an interesting


question, the fundamentalist regime. Isn't it tyrannical and bullying and


frightening to tell a little child they might go to hell? No, that's


twisting the story. My parents didn't tell me, you're going to go


to hell if you don't do this, that and the other. They explained Jesus'


and God's love by sending Jesus. This is a perverting idea of love if


you think God would send people to eternal damnation. It is not


possible. APPLAUSE Is it damaging for a child?


Why is that damaging for a child? If you believe thaw know that other


people are going to hell, it is impossible for you to treat them


with the value and respect that they deserve as human being. If you think


I'm depraved because of sin, you can't seriously say I'm worth as


much as you. We are all in the same boat. If you look at the way we


treat God, disrespect that we create the creator of the universe, one


that rightfully owns everything and the disrespect we have for him, it


is understandable. God gave us free will and choice. He did. And we to


pave our own way to whatever waits beyond. Some of us believe there is


something and others believe that it is a permanent cycle. And some of us


believe nothing, none of the above. I'm not really worried about hell.


This isn't a debate about hell - we've had that before. This is a


debate about what we teach our children and potentially how


damaging that might be. Bishop? What about those who take a literal view


of the Bible, and indeed the Koran, unmediated word of God, allegedly.


Could that be dangerous for children? It worries me immensely. I


believe that young people, older people, all need to be in a position


where they are properly educated to be able to make inform informed


choices about any belief structure that might be presented to them. You


only have to look at the history of the presents day to see where


fundamentalism can actually lead people.


APPLAUSE Before I come to you, what would you teach a child, since we


are here, about hell? I can speak of my own experience, not of hell but


my own education. I was taught just precomprehensive days in a state


grammar school. I was taught religious education but somebody who


I suppose nowadays would be described as a fairly fundamentalist


conservative evangelical Baptist Minister from the Welsh valleys.


Along with just about everybody else in my class I rejected what was


teaching, which was there's the Bible, you swallow it hook, line and


sinker. You take it as a literal word of God and if you don't


believe, that you know where you will finish up. Really? But look


what happened to me. I happened to believe that, I don't want to trade


verses of scripture with people, but one of the things that is most


important, Jesus said, if you have seen me, you've seen the Father. You


judge your understanding of God by what you see in the ministry and the


outreach and the welcome of Him. I don't see Him being as black and


white as some fundamentalists might put it. Scripture in parts might


have been written in that way because that was the cultural way it


was done then. But to force feed and indoctrinate young children with


some of the rubbish, quite frankly, that Christian education produces is


wicked. Mustafa, as we were breaking bread before the programme, having a


cuppa, you said that for example this phrase, homosexuality is


un-Islamic. Well, before coming... No, you come to it. How would you


teach, what would you teach a child, a young teenager who came to you and


said, I'm gay, what should I do, what would you say to that child? I


would talk to him about his feelings. Sometimes it is a normal


thing for teenage terse, especially when they go through the hormone


hormonal phases to feel a sense of, I'm homosexual. I could explain


psychological literature and it could be caused by different


hormones from their body. They are not understanding yet what they are


feeling, they are exploring their identity. I would talk to young boy


about his feelings. I wouldn't say OK, be homosexual. I wouldn't say,


you're banned. What I believe in terms of homosexuality and


heterosexuality is that heterosexuality is something that


God wants us to be heterosexuals. That's my belief. I would promote


that. To that child. But I would want to do that with the utmost


respect for his feelings and for what he feels and the stage he is


going through and for his identity and the difficult phases that he


might feel. Why did God create homosexuals? I believe God creates


human being. I don't believe God creates homosexuals or anybody else.


They are human being that have chosen a certain path. A certainly


sexual orientation. Just like me, I can choose to be a heterosexual.


That's my belief. And somebody can choose to go down another path. When


did you choose to be straight? When I was young. I believe that. You had


the choice to be a homosexual and straight? On that point, hands up


who wants to say something about this? I heard a Murray across the


audience -- murmur. It is patronising for Christians or anyone


of religious belief to say, we'll talk to people, we'll talk them out


of it. If you change your way maybe we'll accept you. If you speak to


some people, they will say the most difficult thing I've had to do is


admit that I'm gay. Why would I choose to do that?


APPLAUSE Anyone else? Anyone else wants to say something? I don't


think anybody chooses to be homosexual. It is something you are


or you are not. Exactly. Let's get back, how dangerous is it to teach a


child that? I think it is very dangerous to teach children that


you'll go to hell if you misbehave. The way a lot of religions seem to


try and teach morality is it doesn't matter what you do as long as you


accept Jesus you will go to heavy no-one the end. It is far more


important to teach children the difference between what's right and


what's wrong. I'm a humanist, so I believe that we should treat other


people with respect. But that morals of society, if you like, are things


which have evolved over time. They've not been thrust upon us by


some imaginary figure in the sky. I think teaching people how to behave


is far more important than saying, do what you but if you accept Jesus


you will go to heavy no-one the end. Mustafa? I think it is very


important to realise that parenting in itself is always about norms and


values, even if you don't have a religion or whatever you believe you


are teaching in a sense consciously or unconsciously that belief to your


child. If it is for example, the gentleman before said OK I don't


believe you should talk someone out of it, I believe he wants to talk me


out of talking someone else out of something, because he doesn't agree


with my view on things. So he is wanting to talk me out by having


this debate or presenting his argumentation, which is fine. With


all due respect it is fine, that's why we are here, why we are


discussing. I don't think it is in a sense important to understand the


perspective where someone comes from. You come from the perspective


that teaching hell or saying that if you misbehave you will go to hell,


which I don't agree with that way of teaching the by the way, but you


disagree with that so you want to talk me out of it. Or you want to


teach that view to your child. So you think he's an extremist. Mehdi,


you left Islam didn't you? I. About teaching our kids, it is very


selfish of us to think that our children are just our assets. I


personally think our kids belong to themselves and society.


APPLAUSE What land to you then? When did you have this reverse


revelation? I was born in Iran. My family had a liberal and moderate


background, I had to go tota... If you stood up and said, I'm an


atheist? I would be prosecuted and not be classed as a citizen in my


own country. I would get death threats. I'm taking a risk to talk


to you about my past. As I went to school, I was taught to be


religious. As a child I believed whatever they told me. I used to get


beaten in school for not practising Islam and dodging prayers. At some


point in my life I realised I was so fundamental I was telling my parents


and my family and my friends off about not practising the religion. I


was, I went so far that I was planning, I was just thinking that


dying and killing for my own religion is a good practice. I


should do anything necessarily to save my religion. There was points,


I can remember that me and my cousins were even planning to kill


someone after the fatwa -- killing Salman Rushdie after the fatwa. I


grew out of it and I became so sceptic. Are you scared to say this


now? You said at the beginning this is still quite a big thing for you


to say. It is a big deal but I'm not scared. I just believe what is


right. I need to say, I need to make people understand what's gone


through my life and what's happened to me and what is happening to other


kids in religious countries. It stays with people a long time


doesn't it? Absolutely. It can damage... Johnny? It took me about


ten years to find my way out of it and gradually realising that things


that I have been taught weren't true, and to get over the fact I


have been taught to accept what authority told me unquestioningly.


Your critical thinking skills get hammered because so many of the


teachings in fundamentalist Christianity, particularly those


that reject eve Luke, they are so illogical and you are taught this is


a good way to think, to disregard the evidence that disagrees with


your religion, and it encourages conspiracy theories and an


irrational too much to the evidence. I know Liz you would feel I'm


presenting a perverted version of Christianity, that what I think


about is not what you read, but what's fascinating about this is


what you believe is totally true biblical Christianity. We would both


have said we are taking the world of God and yet come to different


conclusions. It makes a mockery of it. It is all about context. The


question isn't so much that isn't it the beliefs that are the problem,


but good or bad parenting. You can have good or bad parents in whatever


background. They could be alcoholic, get divorced or take drugs. Larkin


said they mess you up, your mum and dad. I'm paraphrasing. If you coerce


your children it harms them. My parents taught me to use my powers


of critical thinking, to question everything. I have had a very good


education, I'm belowsed in that way. -- I'm blessed in that way. I've


decided that the evidence fits best with the account of the Bible. In


which case you will Joan me in condemning accelerated Christian


education. Definitely. Consensus. The debates will continue online and


on Twitter. Next week we are in Newcastle upon Tyne. For now it is


goodbye, enjoy your Sunday. Thank you for watching The Big Questions.


Nicky Campbell presents live moral, ethical and religious debates from Michaelston Community College in Cardiff.

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