Bishop of Shrewsbury Mark Davies has praised the “integrity” of Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg in “fearlessly” speaking out in favour of Church teaching, and accused media commentators of moving to “extremes”.
Rees-Mogg said in an interview with Good Morning Britain on Wednesday that he opposes abortion in all circumstances because “life is sacrosanct from the moment of conception”. He also said he opposes same-sex marriage because “I am a Catholic and I take the teaching of the Catholic Church seriously.”
Various outlets described him as “bigoted” and “extreme”, while one commentator accused him of holding “views verging on the fascistic”.
“It is a mark of the extremes to which the leaders of public opinion are moving that a politician who simply accepts Christian teaching on the sanctity of human life and the identity of marriage is considered exceptional,” Bishop Davies said.
“I think we should all be grateful for the integrity of politicians like Jacob Rees Mogg who fearlessly speak of those Christian convictions on which our society was built.”
The Catholic MP was subject to vilification from a number of commentators.
Writing in the Guardian, Suzanne Moore called Rees-Mogg a “thoroughly modern, neoconservative bigot” adding that his Catholic views have “no place in public life”.
“As usual, Rees-Mogg’s religious faith is used to excuse his appalling bigotry, she said. “He is a Catholic and this kind of fundamentalism is always anti-women, but for some reason we are to respect it. I don’t. It has no place in public life.”
“Views that verge on fascistic are fine if dressed up in tweed with a knowledge of the classics thrown in. What a laugh!” she added.
In the Telegraph, Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman claimed that “anti-abortion” Rees-Mogg could “set the Tories back decades” with his views.
“Should he really be handed the leadership of a country whose majority views differ so entirely from his own?” she asked, adding: “That’s my business and yours.”
She hinted that if Rees-Mogg were ever to take the party leadership, it would represent the Tories returning to being the “nasty party”.
The Times joins the Guardian’s campaign to de- legitimise Christian ethics & remove Christians from the public space. Execrable. pic.twitter.com/KNVoBg7f5g
Meanwhile, the Times featured a cartoon depicting Rees-Mogg as a foetus saying: “That’s my leadership plan terminated.”
Gavin Ashenden, a former chaplain to the Queen, accused the paper of “deliberately send[ing] the message that Christian ethical views have no place in the public and political forum and should be ridiculed and excluded.”
“It is a matter of some profound regret that the Times should lend its weight and influence to de-legitimise Christian belief and undermine free speech,” he added.