If evidence were needed of growing ideological dictatorship, this is surely it. In 2018, the 4 year old son of Izzy Montague was compelled by Heavers Farm Primary School to take part in what was labelled a fun ‘Pride Parade’. This fell within Gay Pride Month and was aimed, the school said, at promoting inclusivity, teaching children the need for tolerance. When pressed, the school insisted this was something that was highly necessary, because pupils came from a broad spectrum of family structures, including children with unmarried parents, step families, single parent families, families with same sex parents and looked-after children.
It is beyond question that children today will indeed come from a wide variety of family backgrounds, but, that said, the focus of the Parade appears to have been almost exclusively on normalising and promoting LGBT+ choice and behaviours. At the same time, the fact that 80% of children at the school were of Black African, Caribbean or Eastern European heritage, many coming from strongly religious families, appears to have been ignored. And it is this that is key.
It goes without saying that the promotion of LGBT+ values and behaviour is directly contrary not just to Christianity, but to most of the world’s religions, and for the Montague family, committed and devout Christians, their son’s participation in celebration of behaviours prohibited in the Bible was unthinkable. They saw the event as cultural proselytism, at odds with their belief, and accordingly asked for him to be excused. A request that was roundly rejected by Susan Papas, the school’s headmistress.
To cut a long story short, the Montague family, forced to move their son to another school more sympathetic with their beliefs, brought an action against Heavers Farm, claiming, broadly, violation of their rights as laid down under equality and human rights law, and breach of statutory duty. The Equality Act 2010, it will be remembered, includes religion or belief as one of the nine protected characteristics requiring protection under law (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/15/section/4), while the Human Rights Act 1998 enshrines freedom of belief, with the right to manifest and practice such belief without interference or hindrance (emphasis added, https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/42/schedule/1/part/I/chapter/8).
Given such seemingly rigorous protections, one might be excused for thinking it was an open and shut case. Of course, children from Christian families should not be subjected to teaching that disrespects and calls into question their faith. The uninvolved bystander may even perhaps have legitimately expected some sort of inquiry into why, given there is no requirement under law for children under 11 to be taught about such issues, this school was apparently so keen to promote LGBT+ ideology. But not a bit of it. Instead, Judge Christopher Lethem dismissed the claim on all counts (https://christianconcern.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/CC-Resource-Judgment-Montague-County-20230424.pdf). Remarkably, given the judicial duty to be objective and impartial, he even ventured the opinion that it was Mrs Montague who had been primarily at fault, agreeing with the description of her behaviour by the school as confrontational, intimidating and aggressive … ‘an angry, religious bigot’.
In fact, in what feels almost wilful reinterpretation of the events described, he found that the school’s overall approach, including the Parade, was simply designed to foster integration and tolerance, and had no underlying agenda, LGBT or otherwise. While the fact the school was draped throughout with rainbow flags, he dismissed as irrelevant. There are many Ukrainian flags being flown in the UK today, he said blithely, but it doesn’t mean we’re Ukrainian!
No, of course it doesn’t, but flying the Ukrainian flag is designedly a symbol of solidarity and support. It says to beleaguered Ukrainians, we sympathise and stand with you.
On any scale of reckoning, the question must surely be asked, therefore, what possible purpose could a Pride Parade have – specifically timed as it was to coincide with Gay Pride Month, when people across the nation are called to celebrate and stand up for LGBTQ+ rights – other than to promote and normalise such values and so-called choice to children?
What appears such wilfully perverse reasoning seems, in fact, indicative of an emerging pattern of intolerance towards Christians within society, and it should cause alarm. I was recently invited to take part in a TV programme looking at Christian involvement in politics. Somewhat to my astonishment, I was told afterwards that they were going to have to edit what I‘d said, because I’d called LGBT+ campaigners ‘activists’, and expressed the view that telling a three year old child he or she was in the wrong body was ‘evil’. When I queried this – with some puzzlement, I have to say – the programme makers said Ofcom did not allow views that might be interpreted as in any way critical of LGBT+ values and behaviour to be broadcast. Using the word ‘activist’ could be taken to imply such criticism, they felt and if they allowed the comments to go out on air, uncut, they might be fined, or even shut down.
We delude ourselves if we imagine any longer that we live in a free and tolerant society, where belief is respected. On the contrary, what we are seeing is the increasing and orchestrated imposition of an ideology that stands in direct opposition to the founding heritage and values of our land. And, like lambs, we are not just going quietly to the slaughter, but, it would seem, are actively opening the door.