On 25 October 2018 the European Court of Human rights (ECHR) approved the conviction in Austria of Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff for hate speech after describing the prophet Muhammad as a paedophile. Yet on 5 December 2019 the same court censured the government of Azerbaijan for convicting two journalists who were highly critical of Islam.
Whilst a member of the Council of Europe Azerbaijan is at the same time a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Members of the OIC subscribe to the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, which subordinates freedom of expression to the demands of sharia law.
In November 2006 two well-known Azerbaijani journalists, Rafig Nazir oglu Tagiyev and Samir Sadagat oglu Huseynov wrote an article entitled ‘Europe and us’ in Sanat Gazeti, a newspaper of which Mr Huseynov was editor-in-chief. In the article they dared to compare Islam and Europe, to the detriment of Islam. Continue reading “ECHR – IT’S NO CRIME TO SAY JESUS IS SUPERIOR TO MOHAMMED”→
This week an employment tribunal ruled that belief in the Bible was ‘incompatible with human dignity.’ The ruling puts Christianity on the same footing as racist and neo-Nazi beliefs which are also considered ‘not worthy of respect in democratic society’.
That statement came in the judgement of a case involving Dr David Mackereth, 56, a Christian who has given exemplary service as an emergency doctor to the National Health Service for 26 years. Dr Mackereth claimed he was removed from his job with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in late June 2018 after his boss ‘interrogated’ him about his personal religious convictions. Continue reading “BRITAIN HAS A NEW ESTABLISHED RELIGION, AND IT’S NOT CHRISTIANITY”→
Last week Texas Values Action warned that progressive Democratic legislators in the Texas Senate have formed a ‘LGBTQ Caucus’ promising a ‘transformative’ and ‘strategic’ agenda.This agenda includes proposed ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ laws. So sweeping are they that Texas Values Action describes them as ‘Ban the Bible bills’. Texas Values Action both exaggerate and underestimate the danger of these bills.
Despite what Texas Values Action suggests these bills do not ban the Bible. No one is coming to physically remove Texan’s Bibles. There will be no prohibition on the sale of Bibles.
These bills do something much more insidious. By stigmatising Christian views based on biblical teaching they would effectually strip Christians living under them from the right to speak out, communicate or practice the teachings of the Bible. Continue reading “CHRISTIANS – GET IN THE CLOSET”→
An American Christian couple who own a media company are having to sue their state after being threatened with fines, including compensatory and punitive damages of up to $25,000, and up to 90 days imprisonment if they refuse to make films involving same-sex marriage.
At one time people said what they meant, and those hearing it responded appropriately. It was usual for individuals and even corporate entities to be somewhat forthright in their expression, particularly of local pride.
Our nearest town is Falkirk in Central Scotland. Falkirk FC, a local football team, is known by the nickname the ‘Bairns’. This is not because they play like children but because of the town motto, the gloriously direct, ‘Better meddle wi’ the De’il than the Bairns of Falkirk’. This can be translated into modern Scots as roughly. ‘Mess wi’ folk frae Falkirk and we’ll gie ye a right doin’.
Whilst this may lack the cultural value of the biblical mottoes of Edinburgh and Glasgow, or the pretensions of the Latin used by many other towns it makes up for it in directness. Falkirk was a town known for its iron and engineering industries. It was composed of plain people who got things done. Plain speaking is something valued by plain people.
Unfortunately, today we seem to fear people actually saying what they mean, especially if it includes expressing pride in one’s locality, people or nation.
Words which incite to violence should be regulated. The latest batch of letters sent to Muslims in the North East of England naming 3rd April as ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ is abhorrent and the perpetrators must be apprehended and punished.
But there is a world of difference between awarding points for acts of violence – from 25 points for removing a woman’s headscarf to 500 points for murdering a Muslim, and expressing concern about the future of Western culture and civilisation.
The establishment appears terrified by expressions of pride in or defence of Western culture. At the end of last week, Austrian Martin Sellner and his American fiance Brittany Pettibone were detained at Luton airport and denied entry to the United Kingdom. Both are Identitarians. The Identitarian movement is a hotchpotch of right-wing European hipster movements, archeofuturists who attempt to marry archaic values with futurist technology, and traditionalists.
Like Antonio Gramsci, identitarians hold that any change to society is impossible as long as its culture and language remain unchanged. Unlike Gramsci they don’t wish to see the culture of the West change and, therefore, argue to keep Europe as it is culturally as well as politically.
The Canadian Christian Conservative Lauren Southern has recently made a series of YouTube videos on the threats faced by white farmers in South Africa. Southern has been detained in Calais on the grounds of racism in order to prevent her from entering the UK.
It is easy to dismiss the Identitarians as conspiracy theorists inhabiting the political fringes We can ignore Southern as someone with a bee in her bonnet. So what?
The danger lies in the ever growing limitations on free speech. Banning people from entry to the country for what they might possibly say is not only unBritish it gives rise to the very things the establishment wishes to prevent.
At one time Speakers Corner in Hyde Park was the somewhat eccentric pride of Britain. Gathered there on a Sunday anyone could say anything they wished. Marx and Lenin, Bernard Shaw and George Orwell, Marcus Garvey and Winston Churchill have all unburdened themselves there. It was a matter of pride in Britain that anyone could say what they wanted, and be met by robust reply.
If there is something with which you disagree meet it with vigorous counter-argument. Banning speech does not stop it, it only drives it underground. There it festers in resentment and eventually emerges in the hate mail being spewed out concerning a supposed ‘Punish a Muslim Day’.
Meanwhile, despite the return of about 350 fighters from Islamic State, a key terrorism power intended to control British jihadists has been rarely used. These jihadi’s have effectively renounced British citizenship and enlisted in the armed forces of a foreign entity dedicated to the overthrow of the United Kingdom and the West. Amber Rudd, the same Home Secretary who bans people for what they might possibly say, cannot stop people who have participated in armed rebellion to re-enter the country.
Orwell taught us that if you control the language you control the thoughts, and that leads ultimately to control of society. The lesson has been well learned.
Jesse Jackson, one time civil rights campaigner and now professional race baiter and experienced language manipulator, put it clearly: “When a photographer takes a picture, he or she decides what is in the picture, and what is left out, what is highlighted and what is blurred. Two photographers shooting the same scene can create totally different images of it. The same is true with issues. If you have the power to define an issue, you go a long way to determining what is relevant and what is not. In doing that, you can have a huge effect on who wins and who loses.”
Yesterday Christians were the losers. We were told quite clearly that putting into practice our Christian convictions is out of the question if it can possibly be construed as upsetting the sensitivities of any politically powerful minority.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that wearing a small cross is permissible under certain limited conditions. If, however, as in the case of Shirley Chaplain, a local health authority decides that a small cross which has been worn at work for thirty years without incident or comment suddenly constitutes a significant health and safety hazard then goodbye cross.
Whilst we can be glad for Nadia Eweida, the BA employee censured for wearing a tiny cross who did win her case, it has to be faced that yesterday saw no victory for Christians. The vast majority of practicing Christians, we don’t mean the David Cameron weddings and carol services only type, would never dream of wearing a cross. The only circumstances under which many would wear a cross would be if the government said that we couldn’t.
Due to the ECHR rulings in the other two cases Christians can now be legally excluded from certain sectors of employment or social activity. Gary McFarlane and Lillian Ladele both lost their cases for wrongful dismissal after being disciplined for asking to opt out of giving sexual counselling to homosexuals or conducting civil partnership ceremonies. Their respective employers made no attempt to accommodate their beliefs or to work around them. Compliance had to be absolute. The court agreed with the intolerant employers.
To express opposition to homosexual marriage is to become potentially unemployable by a local council or charity. If Christian teachers in a state school have scruples about teaching that homosexual marriage is compatible with biblical teaching will they have any defence against being sacked? If potential foster or adoptive parents state that they will bring children up in a Christian home will they be allowed to care for children?
Ministers and priests still have freedom, within the doctrinal stance of their denominations, to preach and teach what they will in their churches. However, if they wish to work as chaplains in industry, hospitals or prisons they had better not voice biblical opposition to the latest progressive tool for the restructuring of society.
We have allowed progressives to frame the debate in terms of freedom of worship when the debate is actually about freedom of religion. The ruling, which is in accord with the prevailing progressive ethos, says that Christians can do what they want within their churches, as long as it doesn’t offend any sensitive souls, but they cannot carry their faith into their daily lives.
We have freedom of worship and can meet in buildings and sing hymns and pray. We cannot, however, come out of those buildings and allow our faith to inform how we live our daily lives. We do not have freedom of religion.
Yesterday’s rulings are another step towards marginalising the Christian faith and turning it into a private hobby. In the eyes of the ECHR Christianity is akin to train spotting or embroidery, interesting if you like that sort of thing but with little impact on the day to day world.
We know who won and who lost, what is allowed to be in the picture and what is left out. Christians are once again being told by the progressive establishment that there is to be no place for us in the public square.
Today has seen two noteworthy examples of freedom of expression; one a victory, the other demonstrates the cost of free speech.
Adrian Smith, the manager with Trafford Housing Association who was demoted and had a wage cut of 40% for posting a message on his Facebook page saying that homosexual marriage was “an equality too far” has won his action for breach of contract.
The judge, Mr Justice Briggs, remarked that the low level of damages, the anount of his lost wages, was solely becase the type of action brought limited the amount of compensation able to be offered. “A conclusion that his damages are limited to less than £100 leaves the uncomfortable feeling that justice has not been done to him in the circumstances.”
A victory for freedom of expression which we should all celebrate. But freedom of expression comes at a cost. It also means that those with odious views should be free to express them, as long as they neither commit nor incite to actual crime.
Julius Streicher was a particularly odious man, even for a newspaper publisher. Amongst other enterprises he owned and published the violently anti-Semitic Der Sturmer (the Stormer) a lynchpin of the Nazi propaganda machine. He was eventually executed for war crimes.
Der Sturmer regularly carried anti-Semitic cartoons which as well as reflecting the political prejudices of its readers also reflected their intellectual level.
In today’s Guardian we have a cartoon by Steven Bell. Does this reflect the political prejudices and intellectual level of Guardian readers?
Bell is free to draw his odious anti-Semitic cartoons, and the Guardian is free to disseminate them. That is the price we pay for freedom, bigots have freedoms as well. No one is forced to accept such anti-Semitism or subsidise it by purchasing the Guardian.
What will be interesting is to see whether the anti-fascist activists who are so keen to point out the faults of anyone to the left of Chairman Mao will be demonstrating outside the offices of the Guardian. Wasn’t there someone who told a story about a man with a plank in his eye?