Tag Archives: homosexual

Pride and Prejudice: Minister accused of gay hate crimes

It’s ironic that on the day I finish editing my novel about synthesising being gay and Christian, there’s a news story on just that in the city in which my story is set. The front page of the local rag has a picture of a pastor set against the recent gay Pride parade. His email to the organisers has earned him a hate crime allegation with the police.

I felt many things as I read that story.

First was the irony that this same newspaper published the faces and names of men at a homosexual gathering which got raided to shame them. It was mentioned at a Pride event – local gay people have not forgotten how their paper treated them.  Perhaps fearing hate crimes allegations directed at itself, the paper now covers the Pride celebration like any other local event. Its tone in this article seemed to be firmly with the LGBT community and against this local evangelical minister.

My second feeling is that this paper’s article is very biased and poor. We do not know what the email of “homophobic language” contained. We are only told that the minister, Alan Clifford,  went up to a stall at Pride and offered an exchange of leaflets. His were called “Good news for Gays” and “Jesus – Saviour of us All”. Too true, I thought; for God loves gay people and is here for us as much as anyone else. Further research confirms the tenor of the minster’s views – that ‘gays’ are perverts who need curing – which has become international news. His views are upsetting, angering – and make me sad.

My next thought was regret that the Pride organisers made this email into a police affair. If I had received an email of the sort I am assuming was sent from Dr C, I would have written back, explaining my views and challenging his. I’d have directed him to George Hopper’s pamphlet “The Reluctant Journey” about a Methodist who, on exploring the Biblical teaching on being gay and actually meeting some, had a complete change of heart. He is celebrated as a supporter of gay Christian people, whilst retaining his more evangelical and Bible based faith. I hope my own book might assist with this too.

I believe that challenge and heart changing is far more productive than crime making. What the latter does is reverse the oppression, so that traditional Christians and other faiths feel they’re persecuted ones, and wonder how equality and anti discrimination works when they are being silenced. You give prejudiced people more reason to feel it, and more reason to band together – Dr Clifford is already hailed as being persecuted for witnessing. Two papers copying each other ended that the minster is anti Muslim too. But saying that Jesus is greater than Mohammed is not Islamophobic  – for Christians, Jesus as God is higher than any prophet, and banning or deriding that statement is not allowing freedom of belief. There is far more genuine Islamophobia in the media and from politicians, which I abhor.

I also note the irony that complaints about Dr Clifford being offensive to lead to investigation; but he cannot call the other side offensive and register a complaint.

I would like to see an end to all such offensives.

I’ve now read Dr Clifford’s response. He makes two other valid points – that the intention was compassionate campaigning, not to harass; and that ‘homophobia’ is a misnomer, for prejudice is not fear. Perhaps there is a little fear in anti gay sentiment, of the notion that they are set to break up the order of your society, and what being open to them might mean for your faith journey. It’s something I can relate to, but I am glad of where that journey took me and to whom I now embrace, not decry.

The other concern is – we have too much police control, and that police were experienced as aggressive at this event. Like the local paper, they have turned from breaking up gay meetings to supporting gay people. This is admirable in principle.

It seems we are now in a minefield where freedom of speech as ever is being eroded – even on matters where one sympathises. Sentiments which hurt and insult others who have perhaps already been through stress should not go unchecked – they should be challenged.  But not be afraid to broadcast a view lest it leads to a police record.

I am deeply saddened when people use their freedom of speech to curtail the freedoms of others. I cannot understand why those whose central message ought to be about love see a legitimate expression of it as an aberration, something abhorrent to be campaigned against rather than celebrated. When a faith should be about a better world – more free, more loving, more understanding – I am despondent that some preach hatred and separation instead of inclusion. I refer them to the Easter sermon that was preached in the film version of Chocolat.

It’s PR like this that harms evangelical Christianity especially – you are not serving, you are doing a disservice.

But I am sad at the other team too. Subverting and reversing freedom and anger is no way to be better understood and accepted by those not yet able and willing to do so. It’ll keep those Christians with feeling they’re misunderstood victims who must stick together and fight for the cause. It means the circle might go round again, spinning between bashing gay people or Bible bashers, depending on who has the most sway on leadership.

We don’t want any bashing. We want a world where such differences are no longer divisions, and people don’t not say or do something for fear of reprisal, but because they no longer feel it.

It also seems my novel’s message is still much needed, for both sides.

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Christians on Gay Marriage

This is in reponse to a post on a British Christian website during the government consultation on giving gay peole the chance to enter into full legal marriage. It was  sent to the site’s editor.

I am saddened by the “Christians Urged to So NO to Gay marriage” post on the homepage. Out of an A4 length article, there are 3 lines from a pro gay Christian  (who are prevalent). The yellowed in paragraph would suggest the site manager’s views, who is also the author of the article.

My faith journey has shown me that neither the Bible nor a deeper knowledge of God supports this view that gay people are not loved and accepted by God. George Hopper’s little book, Reluctant Journey, charts how a conventional Methodist researched the topic and came out still Bible believing but with a very different view. Rather than just study, he met many gay people and their stories of hurt and rejection also made him recast his view.

It’s well documented that the Bible passages on homosexuality – which are very few – are not about the loving and committed relationships, but forms of debauchery and abuse.

I have also firmly felt that as James Alison says in his books, God is clear that he loves all his children, not to chastise and reject and curtail the love and sexuality of some whilst celebrate it in others. If anyone claims God to be about punishment and inequality and segregation, they are not speaking from God, no matter what their source.

I wonder what really is behind the anti homosexual drive is?

My brothers and sisters, why can you not count gay people among your siblings? Do you really see them as such a threat?

The government’s new proposed laws allow faith groups to keep their freedom of speech and to have the right not to have to embrace gay people and marriage. I do not see what the fear and outrage is, therefore. But what a bitterly disappointing way to exercise one’s freedom – by taking that of another.

The family patterns many Christians seek to uphold are in fact not in the Bible. The Old Testament is full of concubines and multiple wives; and the main players of the New are apparently single men travelling in groups with men and women. To say that God created male and female is not to say that that is the only legitimate pairing. If committed loving relationships and values of love, respect and justice is at the crux of Christian family, then you have nothing to fear from gay people.

Reading The Help reminds that within 50 years, Christians felt they could justify racial segregation which often led to acts of violence. Just over 200 years ago, Christians were among those who fought to stop slavery, whilst others were slave owners. We have still not got complete equality for women. Can you not see that some things done in the name of God are not in his name? Whatever is is best, most loving, most freeing, most noble – that is from God. If it is not, then it is not. Ask yourselves whether what you do in really in God’s name and is going to add to the Kingdom or take from it.

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