David Robertson

Scotland’s New Hate Crime Law Is No Laughing Matter

This Act will pervade through all of Scottish society. Even children are to be targeted. School handbooks now explain that all hate crimes should be reported to the police. Journalist Jim Spence wrote in the Courier that Scotland is about to become a “two-tier society” where “some folk are given protection by the law from some kinds of hate crimes, while others will simply have to suck up abuse.” For example, “while it will be an offence to stir up hate against trans folk”, it “won’t break the law to stir up hate against women”, because astonishingly under this Act sex is not a protected characteristic.

Most people and hopefully all Christians would agree that hate is bad. So, at a superficial level, it would seem that we should all be rejoicing at a Scottish government bill which bans hate. But as is so often the case in the world, things are not quite what they seem and words have different meanings.
None more so than in The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act, passed three years ago. It was the brainchild of the then justice secretary for the Scottish government, Humza Yousaf. Yousaf is now the Scottish First Minister and his bill is about to become law on April 1st. Sadly it is no joke – other than to make Scotland a laughing stock throughout the world. It is one of the most draconian, authoritarian measures passed by a democratic government in recent times – and it has profound implications for the Church.
The bill will firstly turn any crime into an ‘aggravated offence’ if it is deemed to be motivated by hatred or prejudice. But the controversial part is that it will create a new criminal offence of behaving in an abusive manner ‘designed to stir up hatred’ against groups with certain protected characteristics.
Stirring Up Hatred
The problem with the bill is that it does not clearly define what ‘stirring up hatred’ means. There are already considerable problems in Scotland with this. The main one is with the definition of hate crimes. Police Scotland have a working definition that if the ‘victim’ perceives it to be a hate crime, then it is. An additional problem with the lack of clarity about ‘stirring up’ offences is that Police Scotland define a hate crime as ‘any crime which is understood by the victim or any other person as being motivated, wholly or partly, by malice or ill will towards a social group’.
This means that the subjective feeling of a perceived victim, or of a policeman, could be enough to have you accused of a hate crime – one which carries a sentence of up to seven years. Take for example JK Rowling. If she tweets that a man cannot become a woman, she could be arrested for hate crime. Same for a Christian preacher who says that he does not believe that Muhammad is a prophet or a teacher who says they believe marriage is between a man and a woman.
There’s Been a Misgender!
The police in Scotland have said they will investigate every report of hate crime, despite having recently announced that they would not be investigating every case of ‘low level’ crime, including apparently some cases of theft! If the TV series, Taggart, were being made today, instead of Taggart saying, “There’s been a murder,” he would be crying out, “There’s been a misgender.”
Police Scotland have also gone into full swing with their anti-hate propaganda, putting out a cartoon of the ‘hate monster’ and explaining that, “The Hate Monster represents that feeling some people get when they are frustrated and angry and take it out on others, because they feel like they need to show they are better than them. In other words, they commit a hate crime.”
White Working Class Men Are Hateful
In an astonishing statement they give an example of the kind of people who commit hate crimes as those with “deep-rooted feelings of being socially and economically disadvantaged, combined with ideas about white-male entitlement”.
By targeting white working-class men as being more likely to commit hate crime, Police Scotland are breaking their own law. At least they would be if they were to be consistent. But therein lies the danger of this law. It has nothing to do with consistency or justice.
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The Marquis de Sade – the Progressive Prophet?

For de Sade culture is relative. You can trust only yourself and your feelings – especially your sexual desires. They are your authentic self so you must do what you want and live your own truth. Freud accepted Sade’s proposition that sexual identity is fundamental to your identity and that it is bad to suppress it. We have now so adopted this as state ideology in the Western world, that to seek to suppress any one’s desires is regarded in some states as a hate crime. Whereas de Sade went to jail for sexual perversion, soon we will be sent to jail for calling it perversion!

Note: This is this week’s article on Christian Today….see the original here.  I think this is a really important insight – if you agree feel free to share it…
The Marquis de Sade – the Progressive Prophet?
In order to understand the times we live in, it is essential that we know where we have come from. While this is true of personal history it is also true of our collective history – which is perhaps why The Rest is History, fronted by Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook, has become one of the most popular podcasts in the English-speaking world. The mixture of deep historical knowledge, contemporary application, British humour and joyful camaraderie make for a wonderful listening experience.
Every now and then they come up with an episode which is revelatory – almost prophetic. A recent example was on that unlikeliest of historical subjects, the infamous Marquis de Sade. In less skilled hands the temptation to turn this into a kind of mocking sleaze fest would have been too much, but not to our two intrepid presenters.
In fact, what transpired was enlightening. When we find ourselves wondering how the Western world has ended up in its present state of confusion and disintegration, the Rest is History’s analysis of de Sade helps us to the answers. In summary, Holland and Sandbrook argued that the ideologies and ideas of Freud, Darwin and Nietzsche were there in seed form in de Sade.
De Sade, a Frenchman, was born in 1740. He was a writer, philosopher, politician and playboy. He lived through the French revolution and even became a key participant in it, becoming an elected delegate to the National Convention. He died in September 1814 having lived a life of debauchery, sexual perversion and violent abuse. He recorded his ideology in various writings including the books Justine and The 120 Days of Sodom – works that are so grotesque they were banned in the UK until 1989.
They are horrific – so horrific that Tom Holland records that though he had tried to read The 120 Days of Sodom several times, he gave up. He described it as literally “unreadable”, because of its evil and sickening content. It is an interesting observation that websites like Amazon feel quite free to offer this book for sale (and Penguin are now quite happy to publish it as a ‘classic’) but dare to misgender someone and your books could be banned! At a personal level I would strongly discourage people from reading this dark perversity – I know of people who have been severely harmed by reading it at university.
His promotion of what became known as sadism, as well as masochism and homosexuality was, for its day, so extreme that he ended up in prison for over 30 years of his life. But as Holland and Sandbrook point out, much of his philosophy would today now be regarded as ‘progressive’. Here are his principles which sound so modern.
1. All Is Naturalistic Materialism
He was a social Darwinist, believing in the survival of the fittest. He had faith that everything was material. All are molecules and molecules are endlessly turning. Therefore, war and murder are natural and desirable. It is natural for wolves to eat lambs – and we should never oppose nature.
2. Reject Christianity
It is not without significance that de Sade was a committed atheist, who like Nietzsche, rejected not only the religion of Christianity but also its values and virtues. De Sade hated and despised Christ and the Church. He continually blasphemed against all aspects of Christianity and attacked Christ, as well as portraying the clergy as perverted hypocrites. He regarded Christianity as a slave religion which was fit only for the weak.
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The Mass Hysteria and Psychosis of Modern Society

The best way to destroy groupthink is by learning to think for ourselves and in the words of Paul “being transformed by the renewing of our minds” (Rom.12:2). What a difference it would make if all Christians stood up against the lies that our society is being built upon! We would turn the world upside down!

Two Minutes Hate
In the novel Orwell describes the Two Minutes Hate—a daily public period in which the citizens of Oceania watch a film showing Emmanuel Goldstein, the main enemy of the State, and his Brotherhood. They are encouraged to show their hate for him and their love for Big Brother. Orwell’s picture is a masterful description of group psychology—what he calls groupthink. It shows how people can transfer their own anxieties and anger on to an external enemy (who doesn’t really exist), and thus diverts them from questioning The Party—the governing authorities. In this way The Party can deal with thoughtcrime and thoughtcriminals.
The Right Side of History
Whilst not quite as explicit as in Orwell’s dystopian novel, modern liberal ‘soft’ authoritarianism has developed a similar if somewhat more sophisticated technique. We are constantly being invited to join the groupthink and be ‘on the right side of history’. I think of the medical worker who went to work only to have their regular LGBTQI+ day—where a lecture was given on the necessity of correct pronouns. Everyone sat round and nodded. No one dared question. Even more so, no one dared not to be seen to be affirming. Everyone had to wear the symbol. After all you don’t want to be excluded for not being inclusive! But what is even more chilling is that increasingly ‘the enemy’ is being named. Those bigots. Those phobes! Usually religious, but not of course Islam—the religion of peace, which can never be portrayed in any other way than positive! This discrimination will soon lead to anger and hatred—when the promised Brave New World is not delivered by all our diversity and equality training. Someone must be to blame.
This scenario is repeated in countless government departments, school, universities and corporations—especially those who have appointed ‘equality and diversity’ officers under the watchful eye of Stonewall. In Australia there are 25,000 trans people in the whole country—that is 0.01% of the population. But for that 0.1% we have to have special days at work and school, we have to destroy women’s sport and we have to cancel anyone who dares to question the ideology.
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Is Prince Harry Amongst the Prophets Also?

The irony is that Prince Harry was not speaking to the UN as someone who was elected by the people, nor as someone who had made his own way in life. Rather he was there because of the greatest white privilege of all – being brought up in the Royal Family! He can hardly speak as the democratic representative of the people.

When King Saul prophesied at Naioth at Ramah, the people were so surprised that it became a proverbial saying: “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
I thought of this when listening to Prince Harry’s speech to the UN last week. He spoke movingly in his sermon – for sermon it was – of his mother and of Nelson Mandela. But then he moved into specific political and moral issues where he delivered the ‘gospel’ according to progressive doctrine. His three points were climate change, disinformation and abortion.
A prophet declares the word of the Lord, so let’s see how prophetic Harry was. On climate change, as with the other list of disasters he mentioned, he spoke of how he understood and knew people’s pain. He was certainly right to point out that it is the poor who bear the brunt, not only of climate change, but also the measures taken by the wealthy to combat it.
Think for example of the people of Sri Lanka, whose super wealthy president decided to enamour himself to his WEF admirers by banning fertilisers. As a result, crops failed, people went hungry, riots ensued, and he was forced to flee the country.
Prince Harry never has to worry about heating or cooling his Californian mansion, or how much trips home to the the UK to see his family will cost. Or indeed, how many holidays he and Meghan can have. His ability to empathise with those who cannot afford heating bills or expensive food is somewhat limited.
Harry on Abortion
Given he was standing on the same ‘green’ ground as his father, Harry obviously felt safe to weigh in with his considered opinion and calculated empathy. But it was when he turned to the politics of his new home country that he displayed a lack of political awareness and of moral probity.Comparing the war in Ukraine with the ruling of the US Supreme Court on abortion, he pronounced that this was “a global assault on democracy and freedom”, and an erosion of constitutional rights.
This is the same Prince Harry who pronounced that the constitutional right to freedom of speech was “bonkers”. Perhaps he has discovered a newfound respect for the US constitution? If so, he should read it before making pronouncements on the world stage.
The US constitution does not mention abortion and there is no constitutional right within it.
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The Free Church General Assembly – Has the Free Church Plateaued?

The whole Western world is going through a civilisational moment – as for example the Roman Empire did at the time of Augustine, or Europe did at the time of the Reformation. Scotland is going through a civilisational moment. The question is whether the Free Church just goes with the tide; or seeks to turn it back and is overwhelmed; or learns to surf the cultural waves and seek a renewed Scotland, through a renewed church.

After my recent posts assessing the situation in the Church of Scotland, some have been keen to know how the Free Church is going.  Not having been part of it for the past three years – and bearing in mind Thomas Chalmers statement “who cares for the Free Church compared with the Christian good of Scotland” – I thought it would be interesting to take a fresh look at where the Free Church is going.  I hope no one would be naïve enough to think that the Free Church is the answer for the dire needs of the Church in Scotland – but perhaps it could be part of the answer?
With the caveat that I was not at the General Assembly of the Free Church, and was only able to watch some of it online, nonetheless on the basis of that, reports of friends and written reports, it appears to me that there was much to give thanks for at the FC assembly.    The motto of “a healthy gospel church for every community in Scotland’ is a fine aspiration.
One minister wrote:  “I have loved this week. It’s been in person. There has been great fellowship. Friendships have been renewed & made. It’s been forward looking. There is a sense that the church of Jesus, the part of that of which we are, is in the hands of good people, by the grace of God. It’s been harmonious…I cherish our present unity of heart & purpose, our mutual respect, our love for each other. As Paul says: ‘let us strive to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace’.”
It was interesting to observe the new faces, increased diversity and general sense of unity.  I found the Missions report of particular encouragement.  What really struck me was a comment from Neil MacMillan suggesting that the Free Church had plateaued.   There are areas where the church is growing – and it is now significantly engaging in church planting – but there are also areas of decline. Only the Seventh day Adventists and the Free Church of the denominations that were founded pre 1900 are growing in the UK today.  See John Hayward’s fascinating research – https://churchmodel.org.uk/2022/05/15/growth-decline-and-extinction-of-uk-churches/
And yet this is not enough.  There are some major areas which the Free Church needs to address immediately, if it is to move on from just maintaining itself, to being a major force for the Kingdom of Christ in Scotland. The Free Church will not survive by planting 30 new churches by 2030.  Our vision should be much bigger than that.  We need to plant new churches, revitalise old ones and even close some.   We have to rethink our approach to education, the poor, the culture and other churches.  Unless we engage with these issues, I suspect that the plateau will soon turn to decline.
Evangelism
Some of our growth is coming from other churches – especially the Church of Scotland.  How many Free Church congregations are seeing growth through conversions – especially from ‘the world’?   There is no use training lots of chiefs if there are no Indians.
Neil MacMillian pointed out that in his 12 years in Edinburgh there had been such a fundamental shift in the culture that Edinburgh looks different and sounds different.    The question is what are we doing to reach the lost?
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Unless The Church of Scotland Returns To The Gospel, It Will Die

Unless the Church of Scotland returns to the Gospel, it will die. To some, this seems a strange statement. What does same-sex marriage have to do with the Gospel? It’s straightforward. We do not make up the Gospel. We receive it by revelation from Christ – through his word. Part of that is his teaching about marriage. When we start to dismantle that word and rearrange it according to the views of our culture, then it is not the Gospel we believe, but ourselves. When we move away from Scripture, we move away from Christ. Whenever a Church does that, it withers and dies.

Christian Today asked me to write this article about the C of S assembly decision.   It is different from my earlier article on the Wee Flea earlier this week.
What Happened?
After a long and protracted process which began with the Scott Rennie case in 2009, the Church of Scotland approved the solemnisation of same-sex marriages in the Church by a vote of 276 to 136 at this week’s General Assembly in Edinburgh. Ministers can now apply to be celebrants, and no one will be compelled to take part.
The Moderator, Rev Dr Ian Greenshields, explained why this had taken so long.
“The Church of Scotland is a broad church and there are diverse views on the subject of same-sex marriage among its members.”There has been a lengthy, prayerful and in-depth discussion and debate about this topic for many years at all levels of the Church to find a solution that respects diversity and values the beliefs of all.”
There was considerable concern at the beginning of this process that the evangelicals would leave. Given the decline in the Church, the Church leaders were well aware of the devastating impact this would have – so they played the long game using a mix of carrot and stick.On the one hand they appointed evangelical moderators (whose job was to ensure that the evangelicals stayed on board and ensured that there were theological commissions with evangelicals on board – although always a minority). On the other hand, they made it difficult for evangelicals to leave – for example playing hard ball over buildings and finances.
These tactics worked. Although a number of evangelicals did leave – including almost all the big evangelical congregations in the cities – there was not a mass exodus. Indeed, some evangelicals facilitated the change.
What does it mean?
The politicians approve. For example, the SNP tweeted their delight: “Congratulations to the Church of Scotland – to all those campaigners for today’s historic moment! An overwhelming majority in the General Assembly in favour of allowing ministers to conduct same-sex marriages.”
And of course, the media are on board. It is incomprehensible to most modern journalists how anyone could be opposed to same-sex marriage. To them it is like being opposed to love! The trouble is when you ask them to define ‘love’, they struggle.
The Church of Scotland is now fully on board with the progressive ‘values’ that run contemporary Scotland. This week they also passed a motion supporting the government’s ban on so called ‘conversion therapy’. It’s strange that they appear to be silent about the other great social issue currently dividing society – transgender ideology. It would be good if the Assembly told us what a woman is and acted in defence of women.
Where is the Church going?
The answer is: to extinction. The Church of Scotland has seen a fall of a third of its membership in the past decade. The Trustees report stated: “A 34 per cent reduction was seen between 2011 and 2021, with no indication of this trend reversing from 2021 congregational data.” Over the past 60 years, the Church has lost a million of the 1.3 million members it once enjoyed.
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Franklin Graham and the Mayor of Liverpool – Which One is the Real Hate Preacher?

The American evangelist is due to speak at a youth event in the Wirral and at the Liverpool exhibition centre on 14 May as part of his God Loves You UK tour. The invite says, “Join Franklin Graham as he shares a personal message of hope and enjoy an exciting evening of live music. This event is free of charge. Bring your friends and family!” The sight of these slogans on the side of buses in Liverpool seems to have triggered the Metro Mayor of Liverpool, Steve Rotherham, who wrote to the bus companies demanding that they remove the adverts.

The Metro Mayor of Liverpool wants Franklin Graham’s adverts displaying the message “God Loves You” to be pulled off local buses.
“God Loves You”. “Looking for Something More?”. They may not be the most outstanding advertising slogans you have ever heard, but apparently in modern Britain, these slogans now constitute “hate speech”. At least they do if they are said by Franklin Graham. It seems we have reached a place where hate speech is no longer about what is said, but rather who says it.
The American evangelist is due to speak at a youth event in the Wirral and at the Liverpool exhibition centre on 14 May as part of his God Loves You UK tour. The invite says, “Join Franklin Graham as he shares a personal message of hope and enjoy an exciting evening of live music. This event is free of charge. Bring your friends and family!”
The sight of these slogans on the side of buses in Liverpool seems to have triggered the Metro Mayor of Liverpool, Steve Rotherham, who wrote to the bus companies demanding that they remove the adverts.
He told Arriva, “To say that I’m angry that the views of a known hate preacher – who has an appalling track record of homophobic and Islamophobic views – are being displayed anywhere in our city region would be an understatement.”
Apparently, Mr Graham is a “known hate preacher” because he is opposed to radical Islam and same-sex marriage.
We have been here before. In 2020, Franklin Graham’s UK tour was cancelled because of similar concerns. He went to court and was successful. A few years ago, Blackpool City Council also lost a court case after they were sued for removing bus adverts for a Franklin Graham event. They had to apologise and make compensation to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. In both these cases the judge noted that the councils were not behaving in a fair and appropriate manner for a civic authority.
Rotherham has clearly not learned that lesson. As a civic authority he thinks that he has the right to demand that private companies remove legal slogans, for a legal campaign – just because he does not like the person who is making them.
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Letter from Scotland 1 – The Church of Scotland – the Final Nail?

I remember when John Chalmers, clerk of the General Assembly stated: “We had a debate which made very clear that we were not interfering with our theological definition of marriage and were not going to the place where ministers or deacons could themselves conducting same sex marriages.”. He lied.  Plain and simple.  He knew that this was a step on the road to conducting same sex marriages, and that the theological definition of marriage was being changed. And no one called him out on it.  Although yours truly tried – and was roundly castigated for being ‘unChristian.’

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It’s a joy to be back in my native land – the most beautiful country in the world!  But there is also a sadness and sorrow.  Not just because I tested positive for Covid on landing – and now have the most miserable man flu!  The main sorrow I had was reading the following in The Courier on arrival – as the Church of Scotland prepares to hammer the final nail into its own coffin.
“Just this week, the Church of Scotland announced that 29 of its presbyteries were in favour of ministers and deacons conducting the ceremonies of same sex couples should they so wish. The Church is a democratic institution so the final word will go the General Assembly next month. But assuming it’s a Yes, the words “I do” could be said by same sex couples in churches by the summer….” These were part of an article written by Kezia Dugdale, former Labour leader in Scotland.  She went on to exult “That is absolutely phenomenal social progress by any measure.” 
That’s an interesting but not unsurprising perspective from an atheist, who has no love for the Gospel.  However, the truth is precisely the opposite.  This is not progress.  This is the Church of Scotland aiding and abetting Scottish society as it reverts, not just to pre-Reformation days, but to pre-Christian days.  My beloved nation is regressing back into the pagan world.  What used to be the National Church is meekly following whatever path the Regressives lead us – it would be inaccurate to say that they are leading – they have neither the initiative nor courage to lead.
I am not surprised at the Church of Scotland going this route – despite all the lies from leading clergy about how this would not be the case.  I remember when John Chalmers, clerk of the General Assembly stated: “We had a debate which made very clear that we were not interfering with our theological definition of marriage and were not going to the place where ministers or deacons could themselves conducting same sex marriages.”. He lied.  Plain and simple.  He knew that this was a step on the road to conducting same sex marriages, and that the theological definition of marriage was being changed. And no one called him out on it.  Although yours truly tried – and was roundly castigated for being ‘unChristian’ – https://theweeflea.com/2016/05/23/a-rubicon-has-been-crossed-the-church-of-scotland-assembly-decision-on-saturday/
I always thought that it was the deceit and misleading the Lord’s people that was unchristian – not pointing out that deceit.  Indeed, Christ himself was not averse to pointing out to some religious leaders that they belonged to their father the devil, when he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
Kezia’s Perspective
Kezia Dugdale also confirmed what we all, (except some gullible evangelicals), knew – that the purpose of the C of S leadership all along was to recognise same sex marriage – but to fool as many evangelicals as possible into thinking that we were being listened to, so that they could keep us on board. (I use ‘us’ because I identify with evangelicals as my brothers and sisters – whatever the denomination).   Dugdale speaks about how she had conversations with Rev. Lorna Hood moderator of the General Assembly in 2013, who promised her that SSM would come.
 “I just couldn’t understand it, especially as all the Christians I knew supported it. They believed in marriage as a union of two people rooted in love, respect and commitment and wanted it for everyone.”  This shows both the limited understanding of Christianity and of marriage.    If marriage is for everyone why limit it to two people?  And does that include incestuous marriage – if for example two sisters love, respect and commit to one another, why shouldn’t they get married?  It is telling that Lorna Hood was unable to help Kezia with her understanding – except to point out that some people were more ‘traditional’.  No, Lorna – it has nothing to do with tradition – and everything to do with Scripture.   But therein lies the problem for the Church of Scotland – it has rejected the Bible as its authoritative standard.  I recall sitting in the Assembly as the Bible was openly and publicly mocked – to laughter from the commissioners and not a word of rebuke from the leadership.
A Lost Battle
I have been involved with this issue for many years.  And I have to say that I now feel completely vindicated. But it is a battle that has left many wounds.  I think of Dominic Smart – a Church of Scotland minister who paid a massive price for his faithfulness.  He was truly a prophet without honour in his own land.  I miss him. I recall an amazing anonymous letter from 15 Glasgow presbytery ‘evangelicals’, who attacked me – and Willie Phillip – another faithful minister who paid the price. I think of Jeremy Middleton who gave the best speech I have ever heard at any Assembly and gave me a faint hope that things might be turned around – only to have that hope dashed by a couple of evangelicals running round, persuading others to play the political game and go along with the establishment. I think of Albert Bogle’s ‘compromise’ motion, which was not a compromise at all – and which gave the progressives everything they wanted. I think of John McPake promising me that the evangelicals had a plan – and that if I just kept quiet, I would see them work it out.  Part of that plan was for Angus Morrison to become an evangelical moderator.  That worked – in that he became moderator. But he ended up being honoured by the University of Glasgow for ‘changing attitudes to same sex relationships in the Church of Scotland”.
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Christian Leaders Write Anti-Christian Trans Letter

The trouble with the words used by the clerics is that, at a superficial level, they sound nice. Of course we want safety and non-judgementalism but on examination, not only are the words in this letter meaningless and contrary to the teaching of Christ; they cause harm. While attempting to create a ‘safe space’ for some, they are making the world distinctly more harmful for others. In promoting transgender ideology, they are harming women, children and indeed, men.

There was a time when Church leaders wrote letters that proclaimed and affirmed the Christian faith, challenged false gospels and glorified Christ. Think of Paul’s letters in the Bible or the wonderful letters of John Newton or JRR Tolkien. They are edifying, exhorting and encouraging.
This week a letter was sent from some professed Christian leaders in the UK which is directly the opposite. The Rev Canon Steve Chalke, Rt Hon Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury; Very Rev Rogers Govender, Dean of Manchester Cathedral; Professor Susannah Cornwall, Professor of Constructive Theologies, University of Essex; Rev Paul Bailey, Pentecostal Minister; Very Revd. Dr David Ison, Dean of St Paul’s Cathedral; and several other suitably entitled church leaders.
In their letter to the Prime Minister, they lament that the government’s ban on conversion therapy excludes trans people, and it is worth examining both the background and detail of this letter.
The government itself has got into a bit of trouble over this issue. Firstly, it was announced that it was going to backtrack on the ban on so-called conversion therapy and instead use the existing laws to deal with any wrong practices.But within 24 hours of this U-turn, the government did another one and said it was going ahead with the ban – except for trans people. This U-turn was largely the result of pressure from Tory MPs who haven’t really thought the issue through and didn’t want to be seen as the ‘nasty’ Tories again. Of course, the political and media elites could hardly contain their outrage – cue Twitter ‘outrage’ and lots of stories and reports – and so the U-turn was itself U-turned.
But the latest U-turn was not enough for these Christian leaders; they want the government to go much further. And what their letter reveals is that they are a million miles away from the New Testament letters and the teaching of Jesus. In my view, there are three basic errors which remove them from Christ’s teaching.
1. They do not understand what “conversion” is. Or indeed what a Christian is. The letter argues that “conversion to Christianity is the event or process by which a person responds joyfully to the glorious embrace of the eternally loving and ever merciful God”.They go on to say, “To be trans is to enter a sacred journey of becoming whole, precious, honoured and loved, by yourself, by others and by God.”
This is a classic example of people using spiritual language which sounds good, in order to undermine and change what Jesus actually said. Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32). He urges us to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). He tells his church, “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline” (Revelation 3:19).
There are hundreds of similar verses throughout the Bible which show clearly that the Good News is not ‘God accepts you are you are and wants to affirm you’, but rather that because God loves you, He wants to change what you are, heal you, forgive you, and give you a new heart.
This is radical conversion. The conversion described by the letter’s signatories is little more than a meaningless meme – with no substance, no love, no reality and no forgiveness. It is in a different spiritual universe from what Paul wrote to the Colossian church: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” Colossians 3:5.
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Is it finished? Lessons from the Finnish Prosecution of a Christian MP – CT

Mrs Räsänen was not asking for her defence to be based on the Bible; she was asking for the freedom to quote the Bible and to defend biblical principles. It was the State who was seeking to prevent her from doing so. Bear in mind that Mrs Räsänen was a senior politician, having been Finland’s interior minister from 2011 to 2015. This case was not a random one, but one designed to intimidate and send out a signal that the new secular morality must not be challenged.

There is good news this week from Finland. The Finnish Christian MP, Päivi Räsänen, together with a Lutheran bishop, Juhana Pohjola, have been found not guilty of hate speech charges, while the prosecution has been ordered to pay 60,000 EUR in charges. That is the good news and to be warmly welcomed.
The bad news is that the case was brought in the first place. This was despite the police saying there was no criminal case to answer. This trial was a political trial brought for ideological reasons and there are important lessons for the Church throughout the West to learn from this case.
Mrs Räsänen was accused of making derogatory comments on three occasions including in a 2019 tweet, opposing the Lutheran Church’s participation in the Finnish Pride week, and using Bible verses to argue her position.
Sin Banned?
The state prosecutor had argued that using the word “sin” could be “derogatory” and “harmful”. This is an astonishing argument. Using the word ‘sin’ could be derogatory for any group. Is the prosecutor really saying that the State should ban sin – or rather speaking about sin?
Being accused of sin can be upsetting. I recall one man who was furious at me for suggesting that his racism against Pakistani people was a sin; and another at a public meeting who was so furious that I was speaking of sin in general that he got up and started shouting and threatening me!
Yet sin is essential to the teaching of the Scriptures. It is the message of Jesus that he came to save sinners from their sin and plenty of people found that message offensive enough – they crucified him for it!
Harmless?
The notion of ‘harm’ is an interesting one. It is a word that is often used, and rarely defined. Harm comes on a spectrum. All of us would agree that killing someone is a ‘harmful’ act – but is challenging someone’s beliefs, philosophies or lifestyles really harmful? Who gets to determine what is harm at that end of the spectrum? In reality, it means that those in power can use the idea of ‘harm’ to blame, shame and control those with whom they disagree.
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