The 42-year-old Baptist, who has preached Christianity in Wokington, Cumbria for years, said he did not mention homosexuality while delivering a sermon from the top of a stepladder, but admitted telling a passing shopper that he believed it went against the word of God....
The Public Order Act, which outlaws the unreasonable use of abusive language likely to cause distress, has been used to arrest religious people in a number of similar cases.
Harry Hammond, a pensioner, was convicted under Section 5 of the Act in 2002 for holding up a sign saying “Stop immorality. Stop Homosexuality. Stop Lesbianism. Jesus is Lord” while preaching in Bournemouth.
[For the full article, see here.]
Clearly, I am not against preaching the Gospel! However, what is being preached by all too many professing "Christian evangelists" and clergy is not the Gospel of Christ and, therefore, must not come, nor does it come, under the rubric of anything that has to do with Christianity!
One can't preach hate; deny the dignity of a given group of people; bear false witness against others; seek to deny civil rights to others; wittingly or unwittingly foment hate in others; encourage discrimination against others; even wittingly or unwittingly encourage aggressive acts against others and, when prevented from expressing his/her unChristian prejudices, claim religious discrimination.
It is downright irrational to claim lack of freedom of Christian expression when that very expression is unChristian!
So, what is "Christian expression" and what is "the Gospel" that is the very essence of Christianity, and with which Christianity is not only to be identified but which comprises all of Christianity and the Christian life?
The only Gospel to be found in Christianity is the Gospel of Grace (God's unmerited favor to all those who trust God over and above seen circumstances); Faith (trusting God over and above seen circumstances and it is through such faith that we appropriate God's grace); Love (putting others' interests and feelings ahead of our own regardless of how we feel); Peace; Reconciliation; Inclusiveness.
Christianity has nothing to do with exclusion, hateful rhetoric, advocacy of discrimination, discriminatory acts, bearing false witness against others, seeking to harm others in any way! Such behaviors betray not only unChristian sentiments and prejudices, but spit in the very face of God and Christ's Church (which is not to be confused with the institutionalized Church).
Christ's Church is made up of the "ecclesia," "the called out ones," called out by God from the foundation of the world (e.g., Ephesians 1:4) to be God's own possession and to be Jesus' disciples. God calls out God's own, and merely belonging to one of the denominations or churches within the institutional Church does not necessarily denote belonging to Christ's Church and being a called out disciple of Christ!
Therefore, I have no qualms at all when a person who preaches hate and discrimination in the name of God or of Christianity is arrested in Britain. I just wish "thug Christianity" that exists in the U.S. and elsewhere were also subject to that kind of legal redress!
There would be no such need to punish anti-Christian rhetoric that is done in the name of "Christianity" if the true disciples of Christ expressed outrage at this preaching of a false gospel that causes so much suffering to so many people; these disciples publicly confronted as heretical that hateful and discriminatory rhetoric that ignorantly and/or cynically passes itself off as being "Godly," "Christian," and "biblical."
But the resounding silence of most of those who call themselves "Christians" is palpably unChristian, unjust, and unGodly, and helps the purveyors of the false gospel of legalism, perfectionism, discrimination, and exclusion define "Christianity" for others, and continue to cause the untold suffering of LGBT people.
Therefore, if some of the disciples of Christ, and the clerical leaders of most denominations within the institutional Church, and all those thugs who vainly profess to be Christians, do not speak out against this perversion of Christianity, let the secular judiciary help lead the way in mitigating the suffering of LGBT people as they also did, under the same religious conditions of demagoguery and silence, regarding women's and African Americans' dignity and civil rights.