Friday, September 08, 2006

Free Speech

What a world we live in! Today, I came across some interesting news about events in the UK from the blog of an American Baptist minister. He seems to trust the Daily Mail, which I'm aware is sometimes regarded as somewhere between the Sport and the Star in terms of journalistic standards, so I checked, and the same story (albeit much shorter) made it onto the BBC News website. Here's Melanie Phillips' editorial in the Daily Mail, which makes interesting reading.

To summarise quickly - a Christian campaigner (same guy as protested against Jerry Springer - the Opera, thereby getting it huge publicity) got arrested for the heinous crime of handing out leaflets at a gay rally in Cardiff. The leaflets consisted mostly of verses from the King James Bible about why homosexuality was wrong.

A few things spring to mind.

First, I think what he was doing is totally the wrong way to go about the issue of homosexuality, and the British version of the "culture war". Why should we expect non-Christians to obey Christian standards of behaviour? And why should we expect them to do so when we use language that is 400 years out of date? Would that he had been handing out leaflets explaining clearly to the people there how true fulfilment and liberation can be found only in Christ!

Secondly, it is worrying for the state of the nation as a whole that he was arrested. It's a slight but significant escalation from when the police interviewed the Bishop of Chester after he said that homosexual sex was wrong. Lets think of an analagous situation - lets imagine a big Christian outdoor event in a public place. Lets imagine some gay campaigners or muslims peacefully handing out leaflets saying that Jesus isn't God, we're all hateful and we're all going to Hell. That's fine. I disagree with them, but I'd defend their right to do it. This country has a long and good tradition of free speech.

These events suggest we're moving away from that. Will Christianity become illegal in Britain in my lifetime? Probably not, but I don't think that will stop some within the police from treating it as if it is.

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