5/3/2010 – Sonja Corbitt –
What is going on in the UK? In what amounts to a legal rejection of the Right to Religious Freedom, it seems that Christians are a casualty of the homosexual equality/equivalency agenda. Apparently tolerance and equal protection under the law does not include those of the Christian faith.
Dale McAlpine, a British Baptist street preacher, was arrested and jailed on April 20 by a homosexual police community support officer (PCSO) for allegedly saying homosexuality is a sin according to the Bible.
McAlpine was publicly handing out pamphlets on the Ten Commandments with a church member when a passerby initiated a debate about his faith. When the exchange was over the woman was approached by the PCSO who spoke with her briefly, at which point the officer informed McAlpine that a complaint had been made for his use of homophobic language.
Allegedly the PCSO then identified himself as a homosexual and the liaison officer for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community and Cumbria police, to which McAlpine allegedly replied: “It’s still a sin.”
In a classic intimidation tactic of embarrassing overkill, three regular uniformed police officers arrived to back up the PCSO during the exchange with the unarmed preacher. The four officers allege that since McAlpine’s remarks could be overheard by others, it was necessary to charge and arrest him with using abusive or insulting language outlawed by the Public Order Act, an Act that prohibits unreasonable use of abusive language likely to cause distress.
Police took McAlpine’s fingerprints, palm print, a retina scan and a DNA swab, in addition to his cell phone, belt, shoes and other personal property, as is customary during an arrest. He was interviewed and charged under the Public Order Act and released on bail on the condition that he does not preach in public.
Introduced in 1986 to address rioting and hate crime issues, the Public Order Act has recently been cited, instead, in the arrests of people of Christian faith in a number of similar cases in Britain. Christians there have expressed alarm that the Public Order Act is being used to curb religious free speech and expression.
American Christians recognize similar political efforts toward US hate speech and hate crime legislation as simply another path down a similar road. Equally disturbing, religious speech is not the only Christian practice in the cross-hairs in the UK that threatens to further erode American religious freedom. A senior judge ruled Thursday in the UK that Christian beliefs have no place in the law and no right to protection by the courts.
The Law is “Deeply Unprincipled”
A gay couple went to Gary McFarlane, a sex therapist who is also a Christian, for guidance regarding their sexual issues. MacFarlane declined to counsel them based on his deeply held religious conviction that such behavior is morally wrong and that he could therefore take no active part in enabling it without sinning himself. He was fired.
Lord Justice Laws, the judge in the lawsuit brought against McFarlane’s employer who is also reputedly a well-known judicial activist, ruled, in effect, that Christians have no rights. Laws believes and has said that legal protection for views held on religious grounds is “deeply unprincipled.” In the ruling against McFarlane, he said that “[l]aw for the protection of a position held purely on religious grounds cannot therefore be justified.
“It is irrational, as preferring the subjective over the objective. But it is also divisive, capricious and arbitrary.” This ruling illustrates the danger of activist judges who impose their views on the voting public by elevating personal and political considerations above existing law, and therefore above the democratic process.
UK law ostensibly provides protection for some religious activity based on religious convictions. Immigration attorney Shabnam Mughal cited religious belief when refusing to remove her full-face Islamic veil in court. Her right to do so, based on religious conviction, was upheld. Cocktail waitress Fata Lemes refused to wear revealing clothing on the job because it offended her Muslim faith and her right to a workplace free of sexual harassment. She also won her case.
The rights of two Christians, however, who were fired for refusing to remove crucifixes while on the job, were not upheld. The two maintained, separately, that bans on crosses were discrimination against Christians while the rights of Muslims in religious dress are routinely upheld. Both lost their cases.
Harry Hammond was convicted in 2002 for holding up a sign saying “Stop immorality. Stop Homosexuality. Stop Lesbianism. Jesus is Lord” while preaching. Stephen Green, a Christian campaigner, was arrested and charged in 2006 for handing out religious leaflets at a Gay Pride festival. Clearly, Christians in the UK are not included in the universal “tolerance” mandate.
What this means in the UK is that homosexual equality/equivalency legislation takes precedence over religious liberty and individual conscience, at least for Christians. And traditionally, where England goes, America inevitably follows.