On Monday July 3, the Government proudly announced a 75 point plan to improve the lives of gay people, eliminating discrimination and advancing ‘equality’. Citing a recent survey of gay people in the UK, the BBC stated, “LGBT hate incidents had been experienced by 40% of people in the survey, with more than nine in 10 of the most serious offences going unreported.” (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44686374)
Seemingly, however, such even-handed treatment does not extend to Christians, who routinely in the UK today are being subjected to intolerance, harassment, and abuse – despite the fact that freedom of belief is enshrined in Art 9 of the Human Rights Act 1998, and is listed equally as a protected characteristic, alongside such characteristics as age, disability, sex and race, under the Equality Act 2010.
An example of intimidation and intolerance towards Christians is the recent vicious attack on Councillor Richard Smith, pastor of Immanuel Christian Fellowship, decorated military veteran, and mayor of Ferryhill, Co Durham. Mr Smith was elected mayor of Ferryhill in May this year, and was immediately subjected to attack by LGBTQ activist and female impersonator Mark Boyes. Using his stage name Tess Tickle, Mr Boyes shared social media posts he had found on Mr Smith’s personal Facebook page, which he alleged were evidence of Mr Smith’s intolerance, bigotry and hatred towards homosexuals. On this basis he said Mr Smith was unfit to hold public office and called for his immediate removal.
Councillor Smith is neither a bigot nor intolerant, but he is a committed Christian who holds to Biblical morality. Mr Smith takes the Biblical line that God unreservedly and unequivocally hates sin, as defined in the Bible, but that He unconditionally loves sinners, and that to enter into salvation all of us need to repent. This is the foundation for Mr Smith’s own life, and he has publicly stated “As a Christian and a minister of the church, anyone regardless of faith, culture, race, gender or sexuality is welcome to my support.”
Coverage of the campaign has been wholly biased in favour of Mr Boyes, despite strong local support for Mr Smith. For example, the local newspaper, the Northern Echo, has made much of a petition calling for Mr Smith’s immediate resignation, which it says has attracted some 400 signatures. It has made no mention of a petition in Mr Smith’s support that has attracted at this time over 5,500 signatures.
Since the call for his resignation, Mr Smith has also been subjected to continual abuse and threats, against both himself and his family. It is no exaggeration to say that he is living in fear.
Perhaps even worse, however, in mounting their unremitting and vicious attack, LGBTQ activists are effectively saying that any and all Christians who hold to traditional belief should be excluded from public life. This is outrageous, and a clear denial of human rights.
We would remind the Prime Minister that the UK is a Christian country. Our laws and culture are founded on Christian belief. We would therefore like to be told why, in the face of such behaviour, and when there are so many other challenges facing the country, the Government is prioritising and promoting minority interests at the expense of the majority. We call on her to acknowledge the right of Christians to freedom of belief and of speech, and to take appropriate measures to ban such unacceptable behaviour on the part of LGBTQ activists and their supporters. Equal rights for Christians! Protect the right of Christians to uphold and practise their faith.