On 10 June, Wesleyan Methodist minister and blogger Francis “Frank” Ritchie penned an article criticizing pro-lifers for their reactions to the Green Party’s extreme new policy to decriminalize abortion.
“Before I begin, allow me to affirm that I am pro-life,” are his opening words of the article. But while he states he is pro-life, the purpose of Ritchie’s article appears a very thinly veiled attempt at defending the Green Party, making a number of excuses for their disturbing abortion policy.
This article will not discuss the questionable reasoning found in Ritchie’s article. Brendan Malone critiques Ritchie’s article in a piece entitled, “Being Frank about the Greens and Abortion: 8 Questions for Francis Ritchie.”
Instead, this article draws attention to the fact that, until recently, Frank Ritchie was a committed member of the Green Party.
In March 2011, after many years of consideration, Frank Ritchie made the decision to sign up as a member of the Green Party. He describes this decision,
“After dwelling on the idea of joining a political party as a member for many years and struggling to decide where to place myself – the Greens in the last week became my choice. I chose the Greens because it is the political party that most reflects my own values as a human being, citizen of planet earth, husband, father, Christian, Kiwi and a worker in the NGO community serving the world’s poorest. No one political party will ever do it completely, but the Greens get the closest to who I am and the vision being played out by the party is a long term one rather than a short one based on the political cycle and the political game. The Greens give the sense that the political apparatus of our nation is simply a tool to achieve a greater aim and it’s that greater aim of a better, healthier world that we share. The more people grasp that bigger picture and long term thinking, the more the Green movement will gain traction in the political arena.”
In 2012 he took a job as a minister in the Wesleyan Methodist Church of New Zealand. Before he took the cloth, he cancelled his membership of the Green Party, stating,
“I do not believe that party membership and my role as a Minister are compatible.”
Ritchie thus revoked his membership of the Green Party out of necessity. However given his “dwelling on the idea of joining a political party as a member for many years and struggling to decide where to place” himself, there is no reason to think that Ritchie does not still identify most strongly with the Green Party.
And yet in a post on their Facebook page encouraging people to “seek out balanced commentaries” on their new abortion policy, the Green Party suggested Ritchie’s article as one such “balanced” commentary.
In the interests of a robust and open debate, shouldn’t Frank Ritchie have begun his article, “Before I begin, allow me to affirm that I was until recently a paid-up member of the Green Party, and that I identify most strongly with the Green Party and their Values”?