The Conservative Party member of the British parliament Jacob Rees-Mogg is in the spotlight this week for recent comments he made regarding anti-religious bigotry in the public square.
Rees-Mogg, a Catholic, said that as an MP he will not shy away from his religiously-informed views on abortion and same-sex marriage.
“I believe that life begins at the point of conception, that has always been the policy of the Catholic Church,” Rees-Mogg said in a May 22 interview on BBC’s Daily Politics program with host Jo Coburn.
“I think it is a deep, deep sadness that there are 190,000 abortions in this country in a year,” he continued, saying abortion was “one of the great tragedies of the modern world.”
During the interview, Rees-Mogg also spoke to his views on gay marriage, saying “the sacrament of marriage is one that’s defined by the church and not by the state – and that the sacrament of marriage is one that is available to a man and a woman.”
While Rees-Mogg noted the law in the UK is “not going to change,” he nevertheless expressed opposition to both same-sex marriage and abortion within the nation, since it remains in opposition with “the teaching of the Catholic Church, which I accept.”
“The law is not going to change. The issue is actually about what society thinks,” he said, adding that “it would be a wonderful thing if society came to a different view on abortion.”
While some have called the MP’s stance hardline on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage, Rees-Mogg went on to note a level of hypocrisy in the apparent pursuit of tolerance within culture and politics. He asked the host why she was picking “on the views of the Catholic Church and say(ing) they have no place in modern politics?”
“You’re saying that tolerance only goes so far and that you should not be tolerant of the teaching of the Catholic Church – so isn’t this stretching into religious bigotry?” he asked.
“The act of tolerance is to tolerate things you do not agree with, not just ones you do agree with, and the problem with liberal tolerance is it has got to the point of only tolerating what it likes,” he continued.
The upcoming abortion referendum vote in Ireland was also a topic of discussion during the interview. Rees-Mogg, who acts as the Conservative MP for North East Somerset, said that it was “terrifying” that hundreds of thousands of on-demand abortions were performed in the UK annually, while Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson called his view “extreme.”
However, Rees-Mogg said that he will “make no bones about the fact that I’m a practicing Catholic and I believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
Rees-Mogg has often come under fire in the media for his Catholic views in politics.
Last autumn, he was questioned repeatedly by Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid on the television show Good Morning Britain for his views on abortion and same-sex marriage.
“It is all very well to say we live in a multicultural country, until you’re a Christian, until you hold the traditional views of the Catholic Church,” Rees-Mogg said.
“And that seems to be fundamentally wrong.”