Thursday, November 17, 2005

Out Come the Freaks

For anyone who doubts that the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill will aggravate community relations, spur bigots and loonies to stir up trouble and waste our institutions' time with vexatious complaints and campaigns; for anyone who doubts, in short, that it will have precisely the opposite effect to that intended and promulgated, this from Christian Voice.

Christian Voice opposes the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill as an illiberal attack on freedom of speech. It actually does nothing about racial hatred, that’s already on the Statute Book, but it brings in a subjective law against religious hatred which we say will stop legitimate criticism of religions. We want the freedom to preach the Gospel, to say Jesus Christ is The Way, The Truth and The Life, and that the gurus and prophets of other religions lead nowhere except to hell.

Odd but true: the Bill was only brought in to buy Muslim votes at the last General Election. Muslim leaders see it as a Bill which will stop anyone criticising Islam. The Rt Hon Charles Clarke MP, Home Secretary, wrote to every mosque in the country before the election promising to bring in this Bill if re-elected. We shall continue to fight the Bill, by the grace of God. However, if this Bill is passed, we shall do two things, God willing and as He gives us strength and courage:

(1) Report Islamic Bookshops for selling the Quran and Hadith, which, if they aren’t hate speech, nothing is. In fact, Muslim leaders have already tried to have the Quran exempted from the Bill - and failed. (2) We shall be quick off the mark and fearless in His strength alone in pointing out what is wrong with other religions and what is right with Christianity. If anyone is going to be a ‘hate speech martyr’ it must be a Christian, and not the leader of the British National Party, who would love that distinction.

Though I wouldn't presume to offer any advice to Christian Voice about reporting Islamic bookshops for selling the Quran, perhaps I can pass on some from St Augustine: "hold thy peace".
Once for all, then, a short precept is given thee: Love, and do what thou wilt: whether thou hold thy peace, through love hold thy peace; whether thou cry out, through love cry out; whether thou correct, through love correct; whether thou spare, through love do thou spare: let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.
I don't hear a great deal of love in the tone of Christian Voice.

(Bizarrely St Augustine has been in the back of my mind since, channel hopping the other night, I stumbled across Robbie Williams, apparently paraphrasing the great Church Father, singing, “Oh Lord, make me pure . . . but not yet,” on a track from his new album.)

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