A while ago, I was invited to speak at a conference in Parliament this coming Tuesday (27th November) on the subject, Ending violence against women and girls; Progress and remaining challenges. The conference, being organised by the Women’s Federation for World Peace UK and chaired by Paulette Hamilton, Labour MP for Birmingham, was scheduled to commemorate the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. I was asked in particular to look at the status and nature of women, and the issue of abuse.
On the face of it, this should have been an obvious fit. VfJUK works to defend human rights and freedom of speech and, most especially, to defend victims of abuse who cannot speak for themselves.
I was looking forward to the occasion. On Friday, however, I had a distressed call from the organiser. She had just received a call from Mrs Hamilton’s office saying that they had just learned I was to speak, and ordering her to withdraw the invitation to myself immediately, saying that, unless she did so, Mrs Hamilton would cancel the entire event. When I asked why, I was told that female Labour MPs had apparently lodged objections because of my views on LGBTQ+ issues. They had said, I was told, that my views were unacceptable, and that they felt I was ‘dangerous’.
To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I am an Anglican priest, who stands on the teachings of the Bible – but I have never, in any shape or form, expressed ‘hatred’ towards those with same sex attraction or gender issues. Indeed, I value all as made in the image of God and have always tried to act with empathy and compassion. Perhaps more to the point, however, on this occasion talking about LGBT issues would have been the last thing on my mind. As said, I had been asked to speak about the position and value of women, who with increasing frequency these days are victims of domestic violence.
So, it would seem I wasn’t being banned for what I was going to say, but because of who and what I am, or what I am thought to be!
This is scandalous. The UK is still nominally a Christian country – our laws and constitution are founded on Christian belief. Yet Christians now are apparently no longer permitted to express the core tenets of their faith. Even worse, this is happening in the Mother of all Parliaments, hitherto famed throughout the world as the home and defender of free speech and democracy. But not anymore, it appears, because views at variance with those of LGBTQ+ activists – even where they are an expression of faith, or based on medicine and science – are now being ruthlessly suppressed.
I have been no-platformed, not for doing anything wrong, but simply because my faith is based on the traditional teachings of the Bible. However dressed up, this is clear and unashamed discrimination against Christians by those committed to a new and hostile ‘faith’.
Later the same evening, I was again phoned by a Women’s Federation for World Peace UK organiser for the event. Though asked to say nothing, I had felt compelled to tell them that I felt such behaviour could not be left unchallenged, and that I would therefore go public with what had happened. “Why?’ she asked me tearfully. ‘Why can’t you just say nothing?’
The answer is simple. I have not sought this battle, and indeed, my earnest desire is to live in peace with all. But if I fail to stand up for Christian belief … if I fail to defend the right of Christians to speak … then I collaborate in the pernicious and underhand attempt in this country to drive Christianity from the public arena … I say that the rebranded values of activists take precedence … and I deny Christ.
That I cannot and I will not do. No one should. Nor should anyone be forced to.
If you care about democracy and freedom of speech in this country, please write to your MP today, stating your objection to the attempts by activists to suppress free speech in Parliament. Make the point that secular activists are discriminating against Christians and Christian belief, which values underpin our laws, and which have been the bedrdock and foundation of our nation for over a thousand years.