Street preacher Shawn Holes fined £1,000 for homophobia

I’m saying nothing:

Pink News:

An American street preacher who told shoppers in Glasgow that gays would go to hell has been fined £1,000.

Shawn Holes, 47, from New York state, was on a tour of the UK with colleagues when he was arrested in Glasgow city centre on March 18th.

He was charged with breaching the peace for the comments.

When asked about his views on homosexuality, Holes said: “Homosexuals are deserving of the wrath of God – and so are all other sinners – and they are going to a place called hell.”

He said that while preaching, a number of gay couples stopped to listen and asked him about his views, which he said seemed like a “set-up”.

Holes said that he admitted the charge because he wanted to get back to the US quickly to see his wife and his father, who is in a hospice.

He said he only expected to be fined around £100.

A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church told the Scotsman: “We supported [hate crime] legislation but it is very difficult to see how this man can be charged for expressing a religious conviction.

“The facts of this case show his statement was clearly his religious belief.

“Yes, it is strong language he has used, but it is obviously a religious conviction and not a form of discrimination.”

UPDATE: Peter Tatchell has just commented on this case over at Harry’s Place:

Freedom of speech must be defended… even for homophobes

The conviction and £1,000 fine imposed on a homophobic Christian street preacher in Glasgow must be condemned an attack on free speech and a heavy-handed, excessive response to homophobia. Shawn Holes, an American Baptist evangelist touring Britain, was fined £1,000 for telling passers-by in Glasgow city centre:

“Homosexuals are deserving of the wrath of God – and so are all other sinners – and they are going to a place called hell.”

In court, he admitted breaching the peace on 18 March by “uttering homophobic remarks” that were “aggravated by religious prejudice”.

Mr Holes is obviously homophobic and should not be insulting people with his anti-gay tirades. He should be challenged and people should protest against his intolerance. However, in a democratic, free society it is wrong to prosecute him. Criminalisation is not appropriate.

The price of freedom of speech is that we sometimes have to put up with opinions that are objectionable and offensive.

Just as people should have the right to criticise religion, people of faith should have the right to criticise homosexuality. Only incitements to violence should be illegal.

Mr Holes’s £1,000 fine is totally disproportionate. Even people who commit robberies and violent assaults sometimes get off with lighter penalties. This prosecution was heavy-handed and an inappropriate use of the law.

Continue Reading

On the subject of freedom of speech, this short YouTube video of Phillip Pullman (Author of: The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ) has been popping up everywhere this morning: (Hat-Tip MediaWatchWatch)

Fair enough….

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29 Responses to “Street preacher Shawn Holes fined £1,000 for homophobia”

  1. Goy Says:

    The breach of the peace laws in Scotland are totalitarian, if you where in a field with a policeman and you whisteld a hymm he could charge you with breach of the peace on the grounds that the perception was one of fear and alarm, if he also perceived the tune to be racist then “racially aggravated” would be tagged on to the end of the charge basically doubling the sentence say from 3 to 6 months prison time all this wthout a jury.

    New Scots equality laws basicaly mean any type of “perceived discrimination” has been crimanalised, most of the prosecutions have and will go unreported by the media.

  2. Goy Says:

    “We supported [hate crime] legislation … ” – spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church

    When people like myself warned of the dangers of such legislation our concerns were shouted down by the great and the good, those who live by the sword die by the sword.

  3. Phil Wood Says:

    I caught sight of Peter Tatchell’s response yesterday. As a Christian I found myself pulled in several directions at once by this case. On the one hand I don’t agree with Mr Holes’ homophobia. On the other hand prosecuting him was an alarming violation of free speech. Peter Tatchell is an atheist, but on this occasion I think he’s nearer embodying what Jesus meant by turning the other cheek than either the court or Mr Holes.

  4. Webmaster Says:

    Well said Phil, I agree.

  5. Richard Says:

    Phil: Your suggestion that Mr Holes was homophobic confuses me when coupled with your claim to be Christian.

    Mr Holes was not being homophobic, he was not expressing fear of homosexuality nor was he expressing hatred of people who engage in it. He was simply stating biblical fact, that homosexuality is a sin, a sign of rebellion against God (1 Corinthains 6:9-10, Romans 1:25-27, Leviticus 1:22) and that all unrepentant sinners are on the road to a place called hell (Revelation 21:8). He was not claiming to be a better man, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), God commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30-31), and those who do are saved as a gift, as Jesus took the penalty for them on the cross (1 Peter 3:18).

    I ask you, where do you stand, are you repentent of your sin and trusting in Christ, or do you still stand condemned? (John 3:36)

    If the answer is the former, then I ask, why would you criticise someone standing in public proclaiming the excellencies of him who had called him out of darkness? (1 Peter 2:9)

  6. Phil Wood Says:

    Richard, I spent years as an open air evangelist and never once resorted to singling out homosexuality for particular attention, even before I had a more ‘progressive’ view of the issue. When Paul was criticising ‘degrading passions’ (Rom 1.26) he had already made it clear that the context of his comments was the condemnation idolatry (Rom 1.23). In other words he was attacking sexual practices linked to pagan worship. Hellenistic practice included both cult prostitution in temples and the sexual exploitation of slaves. When Jesus visited Jerusalem neither he nor his disciples can have failed to notice brothels where women, young men and boys offered their services to tourists. Gymnasia were another hellenistic import. It isn’t hard to see how Orthodox Jews would have been scandalised by hellenized Jewish men taking part in the sports, which were played naked. In other words Paul is talking about promiscuity and abuse, not about the kind of committed, loving same sex relationships that are proposed by the majority of Gay Christians. Nor do I think we can easilyset aside recent scientific research, which indicates that sexuality is in large part genetically conditioned. Now, I ask you, do you really want to support a position in which God punishes people for their own biology? I have recently told the story of how I came to this position in my blog: http://radref.blogspot.com/2010/03/gay-pride.html

    Personally, I think it’s a shame that Evangelical Christians don’t take a more balanced view of our own Scripture and heritage. Alongside the texts you quoted there is another tradition of the love of God, open hospitality and Christ’s radical acceptance of ‘sinners’ and marginal people at table and in his community of disciples. My original comment in this thread also made mention of ‘turning the other cheek’. It never ceases to amaze me that avowedly biblical Christians can bang the drum for all manner of right-wing, reactionary nonsense on the grounds that it’s ‘scriptural’ whilst also igoring the clear pacifist commitment of the New Testament.

  7. Sophie, Surrey Says:

    @Richard: Christian denominations hold a variety of views on homosexuality, and are far from unanimous. Not all Christians view monogamous gay relationships as sinful as I’m sure you know.

    I admire Peter Tatchell’s response and agree with Phil Wood that although Mr Tatchell is an atheist his conduct is far closer to the Christian ideal than that of the unpleasant Shawn Holes.

    N.B. I wonder how much harm is caused as a result of infants being given ridiculous or suggestive names.

  8. rev. pastor James Thompson Says:

    Throw out the teachings of the New Testament concerning homosexuality and. indeed, anything that you find unpalatable to your own basis instincts. Reject Christ’s teaching of the narrow road of self denial and put in its place the broad path that leads to destruction. Accept the reality of a future heaven while pouring scorn on a future hell. Yes, and dare to call yourself a Christianm; and if that is not downright and utter hypocrisy then I don’t know what is!

    In denouncing those who’s practices. so frequiently may involve ‘cottaging around filthy toilets; and then l;ater returning to a spouse to pass on the infection aquired, is just one evil that 50 years ago would have involved a prison sentence; but today it is simply referred to as ‘within the law’ openly gay practice! I ask: how far have we morally sunk?

    Though we might not like his John The Baptist style, we shopuld surely be coming to the defence of this american evangelist, rather than side with his sodomite opponents! Where has our moral and spiritual stamina gone? Domt we any longer believe in contending for the Faith once delivered to the saints?

    I sense that this website has become so wishy washy and desirious of running with the gare as well as the hounds that this could be my last letter as an 80 year old Anglical cleric to appear on this site.

    None has been more understanding – as a past senior chaplain plus a qualified psychotherpaist! – than myself towards homosexuals. However, they are now becoming as a minority, mostly aggresive and therefore Christians – worthy of the name – should steer them away from Sodomy in a spirit of compassionate love and equal firmness.

    Please forgive any spelling mistakes (macular degeneration and glaucoma do not help). Though a past lecturewr in English, I only wish to get the underlying message across. ‘L:ord, give us love and frankness; and may that love be expressed on this website which so often needs it’ Amen

  9. Phil Wood Says:

    James, I can only assume that you’re happier to hear the kind of ‘frankness’ you do agree with rather than the kind you don’t. The vitriol in what you said simply makes my point for me. Mr Tatchell has shown moderation and forbearance on this issue. I am an Evangelical Christian but right now ashamed that my brothers and sisters in Christ seem willing to dress hatred up in religious clothes and call it ‘Christian morality’.

  10. Sophie, Surrey Says:

    @ rev. pastor James Thompson: It’s not your eyesight that’s the problem, James. It’s your vision. Age is no excuse. My dear Papa is 80 and one of his favourite writers is UA Fanthorpe, the Christian poet who lived happily from 1965 until her death last year with her partner Dr Rosie Bailey. This could not be, of course. By your definition all homosexuals are promiscuous, male, diseased, married and cheating on their wives.

    To claim “None has been more understanding – as a past senior chaplain plus a qualified psychotherpaist! – than myself towards homosexuals” reveals a frightening lack of insight. You cannot offer understanding when you blatantly find homosexuality utterly revolting. As they say, “With friends like you, who needs enemies?” The idea that a psychotherapist should “steer them (gay people) away from Sodomy in a spirit of compassionate love and equal firmness” is, thank God, no longer ethically acceptable.

    Current thinking is typified by Douglas Haldeman’s paper “The Practice and Ethics of Sexual Orientation Conversion Therapy” which can be found at http://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/aversion_therapy.html

    I am indebted to http://www.integratedsociopsychology.net/aversion_therapy.html for the following:

    “In 1994 the American Psychological Association declared that Aversion Therapy was dangerous and did not work. From 2006 the use of Aversion Therapy in treating homosexuals was said to violate APA codes of practice. Some studies have suggested a 99.5% failure rate at trying to convert homosexuals to heterosexuality.”

  11. Richard Says:

    Responding first to Phil Wood for a second time. I have quite a few points to raise, firstly Mr Holes did not single out homosexuality in what he was saying, if you read the articles about this, he only stated what the Bible says about homosexuality after being specifically asked about it by people in front of him. Secondly, your view of Romans 1 is untenable, Paul is speaking of all men, not only those involved in specific practises, and says whilst speaking of all men that homosexuality is one of many symptons of rebellion against God. You further ignored my references to Leviticus and 1 Corinthians. Even if the supposed results of modern biology are right, that there is a genetic cause of homosexuality, I put to you that the christian is called to deny himself, he is not called to live in line with what he wants, he is called to deny what he wants to put to death his own desires as he strives to follow Christ (Mark 8:34). I am a weak and sinful man, I have many evil desires I often stumble, even in the last few seconds I have sinned enough to deserve an eternity in hell, it is by grace that I may be saved, yes, God is incredibly loving, despite how I have hated him, despite how I have despised him and made war against him, Christ died for me (Romans 5:8) I am not looking down on homosexuals as worse than me in any way, but the Bible tells me that homosexuality is wrong, it is one of many things that I must call on people to repent of, as I call for them to turn to Christ. To cease to do so is to cease to honour God and to cease to love those who practise homosexuality for if I do not call on them to repent and turn to Christ I do not offer to them the one way that they can avoid and eternity in a place called hell.

    And now secondly, I respond to Sophie, the question is not what do different professing Christians say, the question is what saith the scripture, “Sola Scriptura” (Scripture alone) was one of the great cries of the reformation, it is unfortuantely an idea forgotten by many who today claim the name of Christian, but it is nonetheless the foundation of true Christianity, the Bible says homoseuality, John Shelby Spong and Gene Robinson and many others may tell me otherwise, but that does not stop homosexuality from being sin, it tells me instead that those men are almost certainly outside of the kingdom of God. Sophie, I ask you, have you ever considered your relationship to your creator? To the one who provides the very air that you are breathing, he calls all men everywhere to turn back to him (Acts 17:30-31), all have sinned (Romans 3:23) but in his incredible mercy, God sent Christ to pay the price of sin for those who will turn back to him (1 Peter 3:18). Repent and believe the gospel (Mark 1:15).

    Finally I have a comment for the one posting as the webmaster, if indeed they are the owner of this site, if indeed they are the one who above posted a link to Spurgeon, Spurgeon would have no time for the idea that unrepentent homosexuals can be Christian, I ask you what sort of position you are trying to take?

  12. Phil Wood Says:

    Richard, I don’t want to go into any more detail about Mr Holes. He did mention homosexuality specifically, even if this was in response to questions. From what I’ve read the reason he admitted to breaching the peace on 18 March by “uttering homophobic remarks” that were “aggravated by religious prejudice” was to do with his sick father back in the U.S.A. Returning to my original point. I wish to commend Peter Tatchell in standing up for some with whom he clearly profoundly disagrees.

    As you clearly think my exegesis is selective I will gladly respond to your other texts. As there isn’t a Lev 1.22 I can only assume that you meant Lev 18.22,23 and Lev 20.13 from the Holiness Code, which is about living a good and clean life in the Promised Land. That code also includes prohibitions against intercourse during menstruation, proper forms of animal sacrifice, mating different kinds of animals, wearing clothing made from two different kinds of material and not eating meat with the blood still in it. As Christians we no longer sacrifice animals or refrain from wearing linen shirts and cotton trousers. The reason why our practice differs from observant Jews focuses on Jesus’ fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets (Matt 5:17-20). There is no indication in this passage that only the ‘ritual’ Law is set aside whilst the rest remains in force. Matt 5:18 makes clear that all of the Law and the Prophets are fulfilled in Christ. This doesn’t mean that we can simply disregard the Old Testament as unimportant but there clearly is a movement from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. For this reason, I believe we need start with the New Testament and work back rather than simply carrying over everything from the Old Testament as if nothing had changed since Christ. If we followed every commandment in the Old Testament we would still be stoning adulterers in the street. The New Testament has a few choice words to say about that (John 8.1-11).

    The other passage you cited is 1 Cor 6.9-10. The two Greek words used here are ‘malakoi’ and ‘arsenokoitai’. The first means literally ‘soft to the touch’ and the second ‘male in bed’. What Paul is condeming here is quite specific: sexual behaviour between men and minors which is widely recorded in secular writings from the time. I repeat what I said about the Romans passage. This is a prohibition of abuse and not of homosexuality per se.

    As you have challenged me to look at the text how do you respond to that radical tradition of hospitality and welcome to the marginal that I cited in my previous post? It’s simply not good enough to thunder against homosexuality from on high like some Charlton Heston version of a biblical Prophet. I spent 25 years married to someone who turned out to be gay (whom I still respect hugely) so frankly, I know what I’m talking about. The Christ I follow ate with ‘sinners’, scandalised the respectable, loved the enemy, welcomed the ritually unclean, associated with fallen women, hobnobbed with Samaritans and turned tax collectors into disciples. I came to my current position through helping a young homeless lad in Leeds who had been thrown out on the street with his furniture for being gay. I think I know whose side Christ would have been on.

    As for ‘Sola Scriptura’ I can only refer you to a superb essay by the Conservative Evangelical scholar F.F.Bruce, entitled ‘Scripture in relation to Tradition and Reason’, pp.35-64 in Drewery and Bauckham, ‘Scripture, Tradition and Reason’, 1988, T&T Clark. It’s evidence, if ever any were needed, that all Scripture needs interpreting and that the cultural context of Scripture as orginally given does matter.

  13. Richard Says:

    On the first point, my issue was that he mentioned homosexuality specifically only after being asked, he was not out there ranting about homosexuality, he was asked and so he presented the biblical facts, having been asked he had no other real choice. (other than denying the truth that is)

    I indeed meant Leviticus 18:22, I clearly didn’t press the 8 key hard enough, my appologies.

    I was not saying that your exegesis was selective, I was saying that you were practising eisegesis not exegesis. Yes it is good to look at the context of the text, yes we should think about the culture it was written to, but we must not use appeals to culture to overthrow the plain meaning of the text.

    I have seen different people say that the greek words in 1 Corinthains 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 mean different things, but I do have to ask what have they been understood to mean for years and years, and of the people who know greek, what do the people who seem to have the most concern for being faithful to the words of scripture say that they mean, when asking those question, one comes back to the rendering given by the ESV.

    Yes there is a difference between the New Covenant and the Old Covenant, but if something was wrong it cannot become right, things in the Old Covenant that are no longer to be practised are all signs of things that have bene fulfilled in Christ, you tell me what a command not to commit homosexuality could be a sign of? Especially when it is listed alongside numerous other sexual practises which are being forbidden, and then in the New Testament we are repeatedly told to avoid “sexual immorality”.

    Read Romans 1-3, all the way through, the group of people in Romans 1 is the group that the Gospel is on offer to, that group and only that group. Romans 1 tells us of how our (mankind as a whole) rejection of God has resulted in God handing us over to various things, one of those various things is homosexuality, it can’t be read any other way. as a result of exchanging the truth about God for a lie God handed people over to act as follows: “For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another,” (from Romans 1 in the ESV), I put to you that the meaning is plain.

    With your appeal to be loving, I put to you that you are completely missing what I hope was Mr Holes point and what is my point. How am I to treat a murderer? I am to love them and I am to call them to repent and turn to Christ. How am I to treat a liar, I am to love them and I am to call them to repent and turn to Christ, how am I to treat a sexually promiscuos person? I am to love them and I am to call them to repent and turn to Christ, how am I to treat an active homosexual? I am to love them and I am to call them to repent and turn to Christ. I am not saying that homosexuality is a “super sin” I am not saying that we should sneer at active homosexuals, but what I am saying is that homosexuality is a sin like any other sin and Christians must call all unrepentant sinners (including homosexuals) to repent of their sins (of which homosexuality is one) and to turn to Christ.

    The Gospel is not a message of God loves you, it’s ok, you can carry on in active rebellion against him it’ll be alright. No, God loves you enough to have not killed you yet despite your sin, but he commands you to repent, now is the hour of mercy, come to him, and Christ’s death will cover your sins, come to him, for why would you die.

    I think we have fundamentally different ideas of what the gospel is.

  14. Phil Wood Says:

    Richard, I think we’re getting to the point where our positions on this issue are clear enough. Sadly, I have a day job to go to and will have to keep this brief. I can assure you that I take sin just as seriously as you do. I can also assure you that being biblical matters to me. I think the fundamental disagreement between us is that although we both accept that sexual immorality and promiscuity are sinful I don’t accept that homosexuality in wrong in the context of a a committed monogomous relationship. As Evangelical Christians we are committed to ‘Sola Scriptura’ but we are also open to use our reason where the text is unclear. I do not believe you are right in saying that the ‘meaning is plain’ since if it were it would be ‘plain’ to me as well. In that context I come back to reason. Again, I put to you is it any more reasonable to condemn anyone for their biological orientation than to criticise them for having arms, legs or ears?

  15. Richard Says:

    I am naturally inclined to sin, I naturally desire things that are sinful. Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:27-28 mark almost every male from the age of 13 up (and many who are younger) as adulterers, yet he still condemns them for that.

    The text of Romans 1 is not disputable (nor is the text of Leviticus 18:22), there is no easy way to say this, you have hardened your heart to the truth, I implore you with the words of the Psalmist, “if today you hear his voice do not harden your heart” (Psalm 95)

  16. Phil Wood Says:

    Matt 7:1-6

  17. Richard Says:

    I fear that this may be the end of our conversation. Matthew 7:6…

    I will pray that God will open your blind eyes and bring you to repentance, I hope to see you in the new creation.

  18. Phil Wood Says:

    Richard, you live in a cage of your own making. If you have any honesty left look inside and see what you’re doing. “… ‘cottaging around filthy toilets; and then l;ater returning to a spouse to pass on the infection aquired…” Those are your words. You aren’t starting from Scripture at all. You’re extrapolating from your aversion to homosexuality and finding a biblical pretext for it.

    I will pray that God will open your blind eyes and bring you to repentance, I hope to see you in the new creation.

  19. Richard Says:

    I was not going to say any more, but Phil appears to be suggesting that I have corresponded with him elsewhere saying “… ‘cottaging around filthy toilets; and then l;ater returning to a spouse to pass on the infection aquired…” or some such, I have not done any such thing. Those words are not mine.

  20. Phil Wood Says:

    Richard, apologies. Those were Pastor James’ words.

  21. Phil Wood Says:

    I’ve been dipping into this thread all day between writing articles. Frankly, my nerves are pretty frayed by now. We’re certainly past the point where the discussion is generating more heat than light. If anyone has a more positive direction to take the conversation I would be glad to hear it.

  22. Jim Says:

    Thank you Richard and Phil for a stimulating exchange. As a disinterested bystander I remain puzzled as to why homosexuality is singled out with such venom, amongst all the other posssible contenders in the Bible? Can anyone shed light on why this particular “sin” should receive so much attention?

    And who could fail to admire Peter Tatchell’s altruistic defence of Mr Holes, even if they do not agree with his homosexuality? Perhaps there are lessons for us there?

  23. Richard Says:

    Jim: I do not desire to single homosexuality out at all, the reason it has a tendency to come up particularly is that it is a sin that many today claim to be something that is fine, along side sex outside of marriage. Hence those two ending up being spoken about a lot.

    I can agree with admirring Peter’s response.

  24. Phil Wood Says:

    Jim, thanks for your comments. I have some connections with Peter via the Oxford Green Party and was so pleased to read his timely intervention in this case. I think the Scottish laws are draconian and only sorry that there wasn’t more vigorous Christian opposition at an earlier stage.

    Your question as to why homosexuality tends to be ‘singled out’ makes me stop and think. I’m a Mennonite and not an Anglican but from a distance what is happening in the Anglican Communion grieves me. Effectively Anglicanism is in schism over the issue. I certainly don’t envy Rowan Williams’ position. A sentence including ‘rock’ and ‘hard place’ springs to mind. I suspect homosexuality raises such ire because it appears to strike at the heart of social and religious stability. It’s natural for heterosexuals to react with revulsion to an orientation that runs against our grain. Further, at a time when culture is in a state of flux and the Christian Churches are wrestling with their own marginality in a Post-Christendom setting the acceptance of homosexuality seems to be a sign of just how much has changed. I believe one reason why the churches are having such a hard time with the issue is that we have spent so much time focusing on ‘family values’ that we have forgotten to value singleness. As a divorced and currently single man I feel this acutely. In the end I see sexuality as a test of the Christian Church’s hospitality, generosity and vision. I believe that centuries from now, if Christ hasn’t returned by then, the ‘homosexuality issue’ will be regarded as something like the abolition of slavery. Nearly everyone will say, ‘how did people not see that’. Right now it’s deeply uncomfortable for people like me, who refuse either to let go of Christian authenticity or a passionate commitment to social and sexual justice. Deeply hurtful comments in this thread questioning my Christian commitment and eternal salvation are an illustration. Of course it’s even worse for Gay Christians who are often treated as if the remainder of the Christian Church would like to have them ‘surgically removed’.

  25. Jim Says:

    Thank you both. One of the reasons I keep coming back to this blog is that I find so many of the contributors submit such thought provoking and sincere contributions, and most manage to remain polite even when they are fundamentally and vehemently opposed to a view being expressed. Very impressive!
    I do very much identify with the views you expressed in your post today Phil. The abolition of slavery reference stikes a chord for me too.

  26. Sophie, Surrey Says:

    Phil Wood says: “I believe that centuries from now, if Christ hasn’t returned by then, the ‘homosexuality issue’ will be regarded as something like the abolition of slavery. Nearly everyone will say, ‘how did people not see that’. Right now it’s deeply uncomfortable for people like me, who refuse either to let go of Christian authenticity or a passionate commitment to social and sexual justice. Deeply hurtful comments in this thread questioning my Christian commitment and eternal salvation are an illustration. Of course it’s even worse for Gay Christians who are often treated as if the remainder of the Christian Church would like to have them ’surgically removed’.”

    If it’s any comfort, these are exactly my views. Go Phil!

  27. Phil Wood Says:

    Thanks Sophie,

    Easter blessings to you. Just back from Good Friday at the London Mennonite Centre.

    Shalom,

    Phil

  28. Cassandra Says:

    We live in a world were only one democracy is deemed acceptable. All other democratic theories which don’t fit in are proscribed. Views must fit into a narrow band of acceptance, all views outside it cannot be uttered publicly. You don’t need to develop a view on anything any longer. The government develop one for you, and you WILL have that view and no other. On pain of a fine and/or a prison sentence. It doesn’t matter whether you violently oppose that view for any reason, you will not express such dissent, as it is against the law. Attend a meeting in opposition to a view and the government will use the video evidence from whichever surveillance cameras you appear on to prove your guilt in opposing the acceptable view. That’s to be added to the clubbing you will receive from policemen sent to prevent you from even gathering together to discuss your opposition to the official view. When you appear in court, you may be asked to take an oath on the Boble as an affirmation of the truth of your evidence. This will be the same Bible, the teachings of which you are prohibited from quoting in a public. Is this the world you wanted to live in?

  29. Phil Wood Says:

    Cassandra, I’m not quite sure what you’re trying to argue so please forgive me if I misunderstand your point. Regardless of the homosexuality issue that has provoked lively discussion in this thread I think it’s good to return to the point Peter Tatchell originally made in defence of free speech. I most certainly don’t want to live in a claustrophobic, coercive surveillance culture whether the victims of that culture are Christians, gays or anyone else. As regards the related issue (i.e. whether Christians are in danger of being ‘persecuted’ in the UK) I think we need to tread carefully. Whilst there are instances like Mr Holes’ case that are extremely worrying I think in general Christians can overdo the claim theat ‘we’re being persecuted’. After all, we spent a good deal of the past 2000 years making life uncomfortable for everyone else. I think a bit more humility and a more positive attitude to our newly acquired marginal status might be in order.

    On the narrow point you made about appearing in court the irony is that as a Mennonite I can’t swear oaths.

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