One True Voice

The new issue of Private Eye features an interesting article about Christian Voice, the organisation that co-ordinated the protests about Jerry Springer: The Opera and whose publication of BBC executives’ home phone numbers led to those executives and their children receiving death threats.

As the Eye report, the protests were:

…something of an improvement on the “fewer than 30” people who turned up for the group’s last national event, Harry Hammond Day last October, which was aimed at stopping Bournemouth Council turning the resort into a “homosexual Mecca”.

Hammond was an anti-gay protester described… as a paranoid schizophrenic by his family, who requested (unsuccessfully) that his name should not be associated with any events organised by Christian Voice.

Prior to being “called by God” to set up Christian Voice in 1994, [Stephen] Green chaired the Conservative Family campaign, managing to cause the resignation of several MPs as sponsors of the group by his description of politicians who voted for the lowering of the gay age of consent in 1994 as “Satan’s forces” and his public accusation that Princess Diana was “promoting a homosexual agenda” by her support for AIDS charities.

The Eye also notes that Green’s plan to prosecute the BBC for blasphemy isn’t his first attempt to take legal action against the media; in 1987, he attempted to persuade the Director of Public Prosecutions to “bring charges under the common law offence of conspiracy to corrupt public morals over an advert for Brut aftershave.”

It’s all the more ironic when you read the Christian Voice web site and see Green campaigning passionately against censorship: Green notes that “Almost ten years ago, I was about the only pro-life activist to criticise publicly the arrest of the American pro-lifer Don Treshman. I said it was odd to allow a man into the country and then to lock him up for doing no more than give interviews.”

Ah yes, Don Treshman. Treshman was the leader of the Rescue America movement, and was deported by the Home Office in the early 1990s for inciting violence against abortion doctors. As The Economist reports:

You don’t need to be all that clever to realise that shooting people in the name of life is a losing strategy, even if you justify it on the grounds that “quite a number of babies’ lives will be saved”, as Don Treshman, the leader of Rescue America, once did.

Treshman’s comments were in response to the murder of Dr David Gunn, who was shot three times in the back at point blank range by a “pro-life” activist, Michael Griffin. The full quote is:

While Gunn’s death is unfortunate, it’s also true that quite a number of babies’ lives will be saved.

Treshman was one of the organisers of the protest at which Gunn was murdered, and in the run-up to the protest Gunn had been the victim of harassment and death threats. Wanted posters featuring Gunn’s photograph and home phone number were distributed at at least one pro-life rally.

The day after the murder, a spokesperson for yet another group, Project Rescue, went even further. Speaking to the Washington Post, Project Rescue’s Michael Bray said:

“From the standpoint of preventing further murders at the hands of Dr Gunn, the actions of Mr Griffin could be looked at as a good thing. He should be acquitted of any charges, because his actions were done in defence of people who were scheduled to die: the unborn.”

It makes Jerry Springer look rather tame, doesn’t it?

This, then, is the speech our self-appointed moral guardians want to protect, while urging prosecution of anyone who dares criticise or poke fun at their own beliefs. But it’s fine for the guardians to criticise others, whether that’s the gay or lesbian community or entire religions – an attitude best summarised as “nobody can criticise my god, my beliefs or my religion. Buddha’s a fat bastard.” That’s not a direct quote, of course, but I suspect that’s the sort of free speech Green believes in. After all, while he repeatedly argues that it’s utterly wrong and should be criminal for anyone to say anything nasty about Christians, it’s fine for Green to publish a “briefing paper” on Diwali that states flatly: “The Hindu religion is not of God but is a manifestation of Satan.”

It’s hardly surprising, then, that Christian Voice is dead against any new laws on incitement to religious hatred. The site explains:

Christian Voice is strongly in favour of keeping and indeed strengthening our current religious offences. They protect the name of God, the person of Jesus Christ, the holiness of the Bible and the freedom to worship in peace. Secondarily they protect the doctrines of the established church, the Church of England.

At the same time we should like to see the Theatres and Broadcasting Acts amended so that the names of God and Christ could not be used as expletives in film, on stage or on the air.

We strongly oppose the introduction of a specific offence of inciting or stirring up religious hatred. We consider it would be impossible to frame without limiting our freedom to preach the Gospel, and would be prejudicial to inter-faith relations.
… We are concerned that the extension of the 1986 law against stirring up racial hatred to include religious hatred would impede the freedom of speech of Christians.

Religious hatred would probably be defined as “hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief”. We believe a Bible preacher would be brought before the Court for preaching against Islam, or against sin, on the grounds that he hated Muslims or agnostics… even holding up banners or handing out printed tracts could become unlawful.

So if I were to say “Christ on a bike, that Christian Voice bunch are a bunch of bloody lunatics”, I should be silenced; if Christian Voice wants to say that Muslims are all satanists, that’s OK. Poking fun at Jesus isn’t on, but spreading hate against gay people, other religions or non-believers should be protected by law.

Jesus wept.

3 thoughts on “One True Voice

  1. mr. mac says:

    Hi Gary,

    Firstly, love the blog – love reading the perspective of an Apple devotee (not being wealthy enough to be one myself).

    I agree 167.945% with your comments regarding the antics and attitude of groups such as the Christian Voice organisation. The danger of fundamentalism cannot be ignored. IMHO, it is the cause of most of the world’s problems because it breeds intolerance and xenophobia. “My God’s better than your god…” is childish and frankly, so Middle Ages! It distresses me that we haven’t come far enough in the last 900 years. We persist in criticising the right of others to be an individual and deny others the same rights that we so loudly proclaim for ourselves.

    Nietzsche was right, but he didn’t go far enough. God’s not just dead, he’s rolling in his grave at the injustices being carried out in “His name”! I know that if I were God, I’d be laying the smackdown on many of the people who claim to be doing My work. Also, I’d be a lot more selective in the people who I recruited to do my work – perhaps God needs a better HR manager.

    I do think however, that the PC police have taken huge steps to protect everyone except Christians. Let’s face it, the number of jokes regarding the abuses that took place in Catholic schools / churches are happy-camping for every ‘comedian’ and his dog these days, but lookout anyone who makes a joke about a rabbi, an imam and a hindu priest walking into a bar. The members of the Christian Voice are campaigning to have the laws that protect everybody else’s rights, protect theirs too.

    Sounds fair initially, BUT, it’s ironic that by protecting their right to free speech, they infringe on other people’s right to not be villified and ostracised by other members of society. Maybe we should remind these nincompoops that rights are not exclusive – they go hand-in-hand with responsibilities to safeguard the rights of others, even whilst exercising your own.

    There-in lies the problem. My suggestion sounds a bit like tolerance and we all know that word isn’t in any of the fundamentalist dictionaries.

    Sorry about the length of the comment, but I couldn’t stop myself once I got started.

    Cheers,
    ms.mac’s other half

  2. Gary says:

    Hey Ahmed, thanks for the interesting comments. I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, particularly the bit about the PC police going after anyone who slags off any other group, but not standing up for Christians. I really do understand why they’re pissed off; it’s just that I don’t agree with their tactics.

    I need to stress this: I’m not anti-Christian. I’m anti-idiot. The problem I have with Christian Voice and related groups isn’t the Christian bit, but their actions.

    For example, CV did a parody of the Police site that aimed to encourage reporting of hate crimes against gay, lesbian and transgender people, which was set up for a very specific reason: the belief that such crimes are woefully under-reported and violent arseholes get away with crimes because GLBT people feel there’s no point in approaching the police. Personally, I think the move to encourage the reporting of such crimes is a good thing.

    CV’s parody, though, was a spiteful, hateful piece of nonsense that started off explaining the evil of hate crimes, and then wandering into a rant about how the police haven’t got anything better to do than investigate a tiny proportion of crimes that are against people who are agents of satan. The site links to articles about the “gay conspiracy” and explaining how nobody has to be gay, they can be cured. Obviously it doesn’t link to any of the sites that point out that every “cure” for being gay has been 100% unsuccessful.

    Can you imagine the reaction if CV’s parody had been an attack on attempts to encourage women to report rape, or black people to report racist assaults?

    It’s the same with the posting of the BBC numbers. To post them and then say “ooh, we never expected anyone to make threats!” is a flat-out lie, because the posting of phone numbers has long been a tactic of the pro-life movements Christian Voice know so well.

    In the UK, these groups – notably UK Life League – have posted the home address of Tesco pharmacy managers (because they provided emergency contraception), a doctor who refused to keep patients who refused the MMR vaccine, and of scottish MPs (under the banner “Child Abusers”) because they didn’t support a complete ban on abortion. The message is clear: do what we want you to do, or we won’t be responsible for the consequences.

    As I say, I’m not against Christianity, or any other religion. What I *am* against is anyone who spreads hatred and incites violence, which IMO is exactly what these groups do.

    As one of the nice people over at Bloggerheads put it:

    “The objective of Green and his sycophantic scum is not to bring about God’s kingdom on Earth, but rather to try and place themselves in the positions of power currently enjoyed by the religious fruitcakes on the other side of the Atlantic. It’s not about spiritual health, but rather a campaign for secular control, wrapped up in the trappings of Christianity. The danger is that many people may be suckered by this ploy. They look around and see crime on the increase, wars, natural disasters, and think “maybe these people are on to something”.

    Christian Voice, like any minority group which attempts to dictate to the majority, must be fought and stopped. The challenge is do so without stooping to their level, lest we become tarred with the same brush.”

    I’ll stop now before I get even more angry :-)

  3. vivasouth says:

    hi gary

    i would be very greatful if you could investigate the story of an new jersey coptic christian family which was track and brutally slaughtered on FRIDAY 14th January 05 because the father was an active member in a chat room that challenge the truth of the Koran and Islam. Please see the site bellow:http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/004660.php

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