Philippa Stroud was the Conservative Party Parliamentary candidate for Birmingham Ladywood in 2005, and for Sutton and Cheam in 2010, being defeated on both occasions. She was one of four founders, and is current Executive Director, of the policy think-tank The Centre for Social Justice.
In an interview published in the February 2009 edition of Evangelicals Now (EN), Philippa Stroud describes her Christian faith and its influence on her politics. When asked what was the importance of Christians engaging in politics, she replies:
- It is massively important because we have a unique understanding of the value of human beings and we know just how important every single person, regardless of background or of what they can contribute to society. We, possibly more than anybody else, have a responsibility to speak up for the vulnerable. It is an idea that is often referred to in politics but not often understood. Christians, I believe, uniquely carry that vision and that is why we must be involved.
Stroud was credited as co-author, with Christine Leonard, of the book "God's Heart for the Poor" (Kingsway Publications, 1999). However Leonard's website lists the book as "ghosted biography/how to for Philippa Stroud" so it is unclear how much Stroud contributed.
In May 2010, shortly before the general election, left-of-centre Sunday newspaper The Observer (sister paper of The Guardian) reported that the King's Arms Project, a church and night shelter in Bedford founded in 1989 by Philippa Stroud, had tried to "cure" homosexuals and a teenager with "transsexual issues" by driving out their "demons" through prayer. Stroud left the project in the late 1990s, but several interviewees talk about her, or indicate that they are talking about a time when she was still involved in the organisation.
Conservative Party leader David Cameron has given his support to Philippa Stroud. Her recent statement said: "The idea that I am prejudiced against gay people is both false and insulting. I make no apology for being a committed Christian. However it is categorically untrue that I believe homosexuality to be an illness, and I am deeply offended that the Observer has suggested otherwise."
The article described how Abi, a teenage girl with transsexual issues, was sent to the Project by her evangelical Christian parents. “Convinced I was demonically possessed, my parents made the choice to go to Bedford, because of this woman [Stroud] who had come back from Hong Kong and had the power to set me free,” Abi told the Observer.
“She wanted me to know all my thinking was incorrect, I was incorrect and the so-called demons inside me were incorrect. The session finished with her and others praying over me, calling out the demons. She really believed things like homosexuality, transsexualism and addiction could be fixed just by prayer, all in the name of Jesus.”
Stroud has been defended by political blogger Iain Dale who quotes the following statement from her:
- "I make no apology for being a committed Christian. However, it is categorically untrue that I believe homosexuality to be an illness and I am deeply offended that The Observer has suggested otherwise. I have spent 20 years working with disturbed people who society have turned their back on and are not often supported by state agencies; drug addicts, alcoholics, the mentally ill and the homeless that I and my charitable friends in the public sector have tried to help over the years. The idea that I am prejudiced against gay people is both false and insulting."
The Observer allegations were not reported widely in the mainstream media. It was suggested that this was due, at least in part, to the involvement of Stroud's lawyers and fear of being prosecuted under the Representation of People’s Act.
In January 2001, Philippa Stroud wrote a short comment piece for the Pro-Life Times, the newsletter of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child. At some point between 14 October and 31 December 2006, for unknown reasons, the piece was removed from the society's website. We reproduce the full archived text below:
- Comment: hope for change
- by Philippa Stroud
- Philippa Stroud has spent many years working among the poor and needy. She started the Kings Arms Project, a group of residential homes. She is the co-author of God's Heart for the Poor. Married with three children, Philippa is part of New Frontiers International, a team ministry in church planting, church care and oversight, conferences, publishing, training and worldwide mission.
- "Do you really believe that the laws of this land can be changed to protect the lives of unborn children?" I hear this so often from people who are firmly pro-life in their thinking, but who have lost sight of the hope of change.
- Let me explain why I am utterly convinced that it is only a matter of time before the laws of this land are changed. When Nelson Mandela was fighting apartheid he said that he never lost the conviction that he would win because he knew he had truth on his side. He argued that, when an ideology is fundamentally flawed, it will fall in the end. Who could have foreseen the collapse of the Berlin wall or the downfall of apartheid? Gradually momentum builds and creates such pressure that a one-time impenetrable stronghold of thinking comes tumbling down.
- How is this momentum created? By everyday people who feel as though their opinion counts for nothing but who, together, can have great influence. My message to you is please re-engage actively in the pro-life campaign. It is only a matter of time and energy and these fundamentally flawed, anti-life laws will come tumbling down too.
In an interview in September 2008 with Christian writer, blogger and preacher Adrian Warnock, Stroud talks about the abortion issue principally as a conscience issue. She also mentions people approaching the issue from an evidence-base, and as an example of this says that "now you've got children surviving on one floor of a hospital, and being aborted on the next floor of the hospital ... that's a real challenge for people to get their minds around, and obviously when the laws were being created that wasn't happening."
- http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6742870154276712571 from 14:00
- http://adrianwarnock.com/2008/09/video-philippa-stroud-conservative/ - video interview, also available direct from Google Video
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