Saturday, 23 December 2006

TRUE FOLLOWERS?

The ‘elation’ expressed by an elderly Lancashire Christian couple at the out-of-court settlement which netted them £10,000 for a piece of local council and police ‘politically correct’ absurdity is understandable but unseemly. The couple had protested to the council that, as Christians, they considered homosexual practices to be morally wrong, and that they should be allowed to display Christian literature expressing this point of view alongside gay rights leaflets on council premises.

As a result of a telephone conversation on this subject the council informed the police, who sent two officers to interview the couple for more than an hour to ascertain whether they had infringed non-discrimination legislation.

The couple rightly described the settlement – which will unfortunately place a substantial slab of public money in the hands of an anti-gay Christian charity to which they are donating it – as a victory for civil liberties and common sense, which on this occasion at least was on the side of the Christians. I entirely agree with them. As someone with a track record of campaigning for gay rights, since the days before that term was invented, I abhor and deplore the excesses of the ‘Politically Correct’ brigade.

The notion that you can change peoples’ opinions for the better, and eradicate their prejudices, by making it illegal for them to express their honest views, however bigoted, strikes me as absurd. When campaigning in the 1960s for the enactment of the Wolfenden proposals to liberalise the homosexual laws, we were inundated with the grossest abuse, which in those days we took as being par for the course. Although the Honorary Committee of the Homosexual Law Reform Society was graced with the names of both Anglican Archbishops, many other senior clergy of other denominations, and about 100 other men and women distinguished in their various walks of life, this did not prevent the extreme homophobes from cascading not merely verbal abuse, but on occasions more unsavoury items, upon us. Lord Arran, who led the campaign in the House of Lords, was once told by his stalwart secretary that an anonymous package containing human excrement had arrived through the post. “What did you do with it?” he asked. “I threw it away”, she replied; “it wouldn’t keep.” At the HLRS offices green-pen type letters frequently arrived. I remember one which poured out pages and pages of the vilest hate-filled language and concluded, splendidly, “I would sign my name to this letter, but people like us have to be protected from people like you.” And there was the implacable elderly placard bearer who paraded Trafalgar Square proclaiming “Ban the Sodomy Bill Before God Destroys Britain”.

Although sad people such as this may be less numerous and less vocal nowadays, they still exist and are not going to go away because the mealy-mouthed niminy-piminy advocates of ‘political correctness’ make their utterances illegal. The same is true of religious or anti-religious bigots, and racists. Shutting them up concentrates the poison and causes it to fester. Censorship isn’t the answer. Evangelical Christians should have as much right to display their leaflets alongside gay rights ones on council premises as they should have to display them alongside Islamic literature in mosques, and vice-versa.

‘True Followers’ of Christ, Mohammed, and any other gods, sacred or secular, KNOW that they are right: it never occurs to them otherwise. Cromwell’s exhortation to the Scots Church – “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken” – invariably falls upon deaf ears.

On a lighter note, once during a North Sea crossing from Holland we got into conversation with a middle-aged gentleman and his younger companion. They were both ostentatiously wearing very large crosses. At one point, the middle-aged gentleman solemnly announced: “My young friend and I endeavour to observe Christ’s teachings IN EVERY RESPECT, and we flatter ourselves that we succeed.” Terry opened his eyes wide, gave a gasp of amazement, and replied: “Really? I’m MOST impressed! This is the first time I have ever met someone who has actually sold everything they have, and given the proceeds to the poor.” The Christian gentleman splutteringly conceded that well, perhaps they hadn’t gone quite that far…..

And a Merry Christmas to one and all.

9 comments:

anticant said...

Oh - I forgot the retired Army Brigadier from Tunbridge Wells [where else?} who convulsed a Young Conservative meeting by saying, in shuddering tones, "If we soil our hands with this pitch, there are even worse things! What is the age of consent for a goat?"

anticant said...

Zola will doubtless fill us in about reindeer.

Anonymous said...

Carruthers to Smithers : Farquahar got cashiered for fucking the Regimental Goat.
'Good God ! Was it male or female ?
Female.Nothing odd about Farquers.
(abridged version )

anticant said...

anonymous: stern final warning! If you use that f*****g F-word again, you will be banned from the burrow. By Order.

anticant said...

Whatever became of old Shelley?
Is it true that young Briggs was cashiered
For riding quite nude on a push-bike through Delhi
The day the new Viceroy appeared?
Have you had any word
Of that bloke in the 'Third',
Was it Southerby, Sedgwick or Sim?
They had him thrown out of the club in Bombay
For, apart from his mess bills exceeding his pay,
He took to pig-sticking in QUITE the wrong way.
I wonder what happened to him!

- NOEL COWARD

Chris said...

"Although sad people such as this may be less numerous and less vocal nowadays..."

Dunno. Christian Voice seem pretty vocal to me.

anticant said...

That's a great article, Chris. I've known about Stephen Green for yonks, of course, but - even though he's becoming more sophisticated these days - I don't think he will ever carry the clout that Mary Whithouse's NVALA and half a dozen similiar organisations did in the 1970s and '80s. For one thing, more mainstream Christians - a dwindling band, admittedly - are wary of him. For another, he doesn't cut the same ice with your generation that she did with your parents and grandparents.

I'm far more bothered by Islam than by SG.

zola said...

Would that be the St Stephens Green of Dublin?

Jose said...

What the middle-aged gentleman of your story said reminds me of the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican mentioned in the Scriptures. When a person boasts being sinless it is when we must be wariest of their conduct.

Why can't these people preach with their example?