Christian persecution

François-Guillaume Ménageot, the martyrdom of Saint SebastianChristians are persecuted in the UK and the US, for their beliefs. Gay people use discrimination law to drive Christians out of business.

It is a Christian belief that Christians should not condone gay sex. This is most important, because some Christians (including me) believe we should celebrate LGBT as part of human diversity and God’s wonderful creation. So Christian hoteliers refuse a gay couple a double room, and Christian bakers refuse a gay couple a wedding cake, and then are driven out of business by the force of law. The gays persecute them, with the state’s connivance, taking their money and making them pay costs. You cannot lawfully be sacked for being Christian in England, but you can be sacked for expressing your Christianity, for example by stating your disapproval of colleagues’ sex lives.

It is not for me to deny that is a Christian belief, as Christianity is so wide. I had a lovely chat with a lesbian URC minister yesterday- “Lesbian”? “Reformed”? Strange, and wonderful- on how we had both thought that to be Christian you had to believe in Substitutionary Atonement, but it really wasn’t necessary, and was inconsistent with God being Love; and how people want the Bible to be infallible, without internal contradiction and easy to understand. She was angry that seven people at their Synod Jusepe de Ribera, Saint Sebastianblocked equal marriage; but they will not, for ever, and it was only seven. Before she went to her church six years ago, they voted three to one that they would accept a gay minister.

I could say they should just bake the cake, but in the Roman Empire I could say they should just sacrifice to Caesar. “Render unto Caesar”, Jesus said. Because Caesar is not God, the sacrifice has no meaning. Yet we celebrate our martyrs’ courage rather than mocking their stubbornness. The only way to respond is to close the business, or continue paying damages. The law will allow nothing else, if you persist with your beliefs.

Jesus says, Do not resist an evildoer. Pray for those who persecute you. Jesus was addressing Jews under foreign occupation. About forty years later Jews intent on resisting started the Jewish Wars leading to the destruction of their temple in 70 and the expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem in 135, so Jesus’ words were good advice which applies now to these Christian bakers. Resistance will only harm you.

Paul says Bless those who persecute you. Live in harmony, as far as is possible live peaceably, never avenge yourselves- for if we lived by an eye for an eye, the whole world would be blind. This is the only way to win over your persecutors.

Persecution

File:Camille Clere Verwundet.jpgThe persecution of Christians has begun.

If you have read anything here, you might think I was being sarcastic, but I am not. Fox News reports that an army chaplain’s assistant who posted on her facebook page “calling homosexuality a sin”. The soldier, who asked not to be identified, said her commander ordered her to either remove the Facebook message or face a reduction in rank and pay.

Arrogating to myself the luxury of pacifism, I could go on about “army chaplains”- how can they preach on “Thou shalt not kill”, leave alone “turn the other cheek”. But soldiers are entitled as anyone else to the consolations of religion. The woman stated her understanding of her religion, and a chaplain’s assistant should be free to do that. She should not be free to create a “hostile and antagonistic” environment for gay soldiers: but was she doing that? Vernon Scannell is our witness:

There’s only two men in this mob-
And this you ought to know-
Who can catch pox from toilet seats:
The chaplain and M.O.

Mocking toleration at best is the response I would expect from trained killers to chaplains. The atmosphere of hostile antagonism goes the other way. The “Military law enforcement specialist” deals with Christianity by draining it of love: gay people are like Nazis, he says. Perhaps an atmosphere of hostile antagonism is common in the army, along with the cameraderie. Bertholt Brecht:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/07/Image050h.jpg/459px-Image050h.jpgJohnny is missing Jimmy is dead
and George went crazy shooting
But blood is blood and dead is dead
And the army is still recruiting.

I hope, therefore, that the officer disciplining this hapless chaplain’s assistant got it wrong, and that the hostile antagonism was towards her and her ridiculous belief; and that she was incapable of inciting hostility to the gay soldiers. Bullying demands that you think the way I do are only dangerous or oppressive if they might enforce obedience, rather than scorn.

I can shrug off what she says, and hope that my disgust will make her fearful (like the writer in “Free Republic”). Her only response can be to move closer to James Nayler: There is a spirit which I feel that delights to do no evil, nor to revenge any wrong, but delights to endure all things, in hope to enjoy its own in the end. Its hope is to outlive all wrath and contention, and to weary out all exaltation and cruelty, or whatever is of a nature contrary to itself.

That officer, increasing the hostility towards her, has persecuted the poor chaplain’s assistant- I hope. Thanks to Michele.

What proportion of the population is gay? 1.5% of adults in the UK identified themselves as gay, says the ONS; but 2.7% of 16-24 year olds, as opposed to 0.4% of those over 65. From which you can conclude that we all die young, or not. Less than 1% of those in Northern Ireland said they were gay, as opposed to 2.5% in London: either homosexuality is catching, or persecution in Northern Ireland prevents people from being Out. Only 94% said they were straight: some refused to answer, some gave no response. I think it likely that a high percentage of those were gay, and even some who claimed to be straight.

Added: Here is Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk, of the USAF, who says he was transferred for failing to punish a sergeant who had shared his religious views about homosexuality, contrary to air force policy, which bars the use of a position of authority to promote personal religious beliefs. What do you think?

“Religious persecution” in Canada

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c8/Edouard_Manet_-_At_the_Caf%C3%A9_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/834px-Edouard_Manet_-_At_the_Caf%C3%A9_-_Google_Art_Project.jpgWilliam Whatcott, a poor deluded man who imagined his own sexual orientation was “sinful”, circulated flyers claiming that sex education about gay people in schools would result in children “paying the price in disease, death and abuse”. In Saskatchewan (Human Rights Commission) v Whatcott, these were found unlawful.

In England, it is a criminal offence to use threatening words or behaviour with the intention of inciting hatred against gay (or straight, or bi) people. In Saskatchewan, no person shall publish… any representation…that exposes or tends to expose to hatred, [ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the dignity of] any person or class of persons on the basis of…sexual orientation.

The same statute specifies that this shall not restrict the right to freedom of expression under the law upon any subject. The statute is interpreted in conformity with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the freedom of conscience and religion and the freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.

Mr Justice Rothstein gives reasons why the publication is hatred, at Para 180-190:

[187]                      Passages of Flyers D and E combine many of the “hallmarks” of hatred identified in thehttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c1/Edouard_Manet_-_Masked_Ball_at_the_Opera_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/838px-Edouard_Manet_-_Masked_Ball_at_the_Opera_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg case law.  The expression portrays the targeted group as a menace that could threaten the safety and well-being of others, makes reference to respected sources (in this case the Bible) to lend credibility to the negative generalizations, and uses vilifying and derogatory representations to create a tone of hatred…  It delegitimizes homosexuals by referring to them as filthy or dirty sex addicts and by comparing them to pedophiles, a traditionally reviled group in society.

[189]                      The flyers also seek to vilify those of same-sex orientation by portraying them as child abusers or predators.  Examples of this in Flyers D and E would include: “Our children will pay the price in disease, death, abuse . . .”; “Sodomites are 430 times more likely to acquire Aids & 3 times more likely to sexually abuse children!”; and “Our acceptance of homosexuality and our toleration [sic] of its promotion in our school system will lead to the early death and morbidity of many children”.

Rothstein, J. finds that the section infringes the right to freedom of expression, and then decides whether the infringement is demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society. Paras 63-164 balance hate speech against free speech.

If you read any of the judgment, I recommend paras 69-77 on the harm done by hate speech. The emotional reaction of gay people to the hate is not http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/ad/Edouard_Manet_-_The_Balcony_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg/737px-Edouard_Manet_-_The_Balcony_-_Google_Art_Project.jpgthe issue: instead, it is that hate speech tends to reduce the social standing of the vilified group, promotes discrimination against them, and prevents them from taking part in the national discourse (para 82).

Note the extreme nature of the speech prohibited. The court removes from the statute reference to speech which “ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the dignity of” gay people or other protected groups, as unconstitutional (para 92). Reasoned debate is always permissible. Whatcott can still advocate that homosexuality and homosexual behaviour should not be discussed in schools, but not by calling us a threat to children.

Whatcott sought to argue that his pamphlets only attacked sexual behaviour, not people of a sexual orientation. The court found that homosexual conduct is a crucial aspect of the identity of the homosexual group, so that attacks on the conduct stand as proxy for an attack on the vulnerable group (paras 121-124).

The Bible calls for us to be stoned to death. Is it hate speech? No. While use of the Bible as a credible authority for a hateful proposition has been considered a hallmark of hatred, it would only be unusual circumstances and context that could transform a simple reading or publication of a religion’s holy text into what could objectively be viewed as hate speech (para 199).

Whatcott was ordered to pay $7,500 Canadian to two complainants, and cease to distribute his two most objectionable pamphlets. Others saying “Saskatchewan’s largest gay magazine allows ads for men seeking boys” and “[t]he ads with men advertising as bottoms are men who want to get sodomized. This shouldn’t be legal in Saskatchewan!” were permitted (paras 194-202).

So this article claiming that the Bible, or anyone calling homosexual sex “immoral”, could be prohibited as hate speech, is in error, and as it quotes from the judgment, that error is likely a deliberate lie. And that poor silly cakemaker, who writes that even claiming that homosexual behaviour is immoral is now classified as ‘Hate Speech’, is mistaken. I hope she will delete her false claims from her blog.

“Religious persecution”

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAA woman claims she will shut down her wedding cake business, because she does not want to sell wedding cakes to gay couples, and she would be forced to do so by the Equality Act. She fears prosecution, and claims that three hundred Christians have been prosecuted in Canada simply for “their belief in traditional marriage”. She comments,

My religion clearly states that marriage is between a man and a woman. It clearly states that to take part in a homosexual act is sinful. I didn’t write these rules, the church didn’t write these rules, God did! I would be more than happy to sell a birthday cake to a gay person – there is no moral issue there, but I am unable to help the celebration of something my religion deems sinful. The issue is that there is no protection in law for people like myself. I either have to go against my religion, or risk prosecution. In the 21st century, UK law does not protect my right to freely practise my religion – that’s the problem.

Her misunderstandings are typical of those opposing equal marriage, and should be refuted.

Hyde Park Speakers' Corner, LondonThe statute is the Public Order Act 1986 as amended, part 3A: Hatred against persons on religious grounds or grounds of sexual orientation. Not all of this part has been brought into force by commencement order, yet.

s29B(1) A person who uses threatening words or behaviour, or displays any written material which is threatening, is guilty of an offence if he intends thereby to stir up religious hatred or hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

s29A In this Part “religious hatred” means hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief.

s29AB In this Part “hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation” means hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to sexual orientation (whether towards persons of the same sex, the opposite sex or both).

Note the protection of freedom of expression sections:

s29J Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system.

s29JA In this Part, for the avoidance of doubt, the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d7/%27FREE_HUGS%27%2C_Speaker%27s_Corner%2C_Hyde_Park%2C_London.jpg/360px-%27FREE_HUGS%27%2C_Speaker%27s_Corner%2C_Hyde_Park%2C_London.jpgpractices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.

“Threatening” is an ordinary word, with an ordinary meaning, but the Crown Prosecution Service states:

The following types of conduct are examples which may at least be capable of amounting to threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour:

  • threats made towards innocent bystanders or individuals carrying out public service duties;
  • the throwing of missiles by a person taking part in a demonstration or other public gathering where no injury is caused;
    scuffles or incidents of violence or threats of violence committed in the context of a brawl (such as in or in the vicinity of a public house);
  • incidents which do not justify a charge of assault where an individual is picked on by a gang.

Threatening, abusive or insulting is the offence in s4 of the Act. For religious hatred, the CPS points out the need to prove the speaker intended to be threatening, rather than that the words would likely be thought threatening by the victim; and it is not an offence to use words which are abusive or insulting but not threatening.

So you can call Catholics fools who believe evil rubbish, but you cannot tell them you are going to beat them up because they are Catholic. And you can loudly proclaim that gay people are sinners, in danger of the fires of Hell.

Under the Equality Act, a gay couple could seek damages for her refusal to provide her business’s services to them, because they are gay; by s119 an award of damages may include compensation for injured feelings. Because the victim must enforce the law, and the prosecuting authorities cannot get involved, few such actions occur. Most victims do not want to commence court action.