Saturday, September 09, 2006

Christian Activist Arrested in Britain

There are two links to look at here. One goes to a news piece, the other to an editorial. Both are from the Daily Mail:

Christian faces court over 'offensive' gay festival leaflets

How Britain is turning Christianity into a crime

Both involve the same incident:

A police force was caught up in a freedom of speech row after its officers arrested an anti-gay campaigner for handing out leaflets at a homosexual rally.

South Wales police admitted evangelical Christian Stephen Green was then charged purely because his pamphlets contained anti-gay quotations from the Bible.

Mr Green faces a court appearance today charged with using 'threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour' after his attempt to distribute the leaflets at the weekend 'Mardi Gras' event in Cardiff.

A spokesman for the police said the campaigner had not behaved in a violent or aggressive manner, but that officers arrested him because 'the leaflet contained Biblical quotes about homosexuality'.

Emphasis mine.

This is a disturbing instance. I'm not big on handing out flyers, mostly because people treat you like a nuisance (and more often than not, you are). I'm even less excited about very confrontational handouts, though that's mostly due to my somewhat mild-mannered persona.

However, arrest? Charges filed? From what I've gleaned from the article, the pamphlets didn't threaten death on homosexuals. It just pointed out the Biblical verses on the matter. I suppose you could consider eternal damnation a threat, but I don't think the law applies there.

I won't oversell the point. But keep this in mind: The actions of this man were considered too offensive to be protected by freedom of speech. However, this:

This is protected speech.

If you're not worried about the future, you're not paying enough attention.

Hat tip: Dr. Mohler


steve the troll said...

I'm with you, however I'm pretty sure the bible does talk about killing gays, so I guess they must've assumed he was one of those literal, committed bible interpreters.

Seriously, the bible suggests that you kill gays, and your family. It's the inerrant word of God. Why shouldn't us non-christians fear that you christians are actually going to start doing what God has clearly told you to do?

Hal said...

First, Steve, I still question you on the interpretation of whatever verses from the Bible you draw that from.

Second, as soon as you have precedent for worrying about such matters, then we'll talk.

True or false: American Christians, by and large, feel that they are ordered by God to kill gays and infidels?

True or false: British Muslims, by and large, feel that killing infidels is a proper response to an insult to Islam?

meera said...

are you kidding me?!?

do you REALLY think that all muslims interpret their religion as preaching violence and death? how many british muslims have actually killed based on this principle? do you really think that if you count the number of abortion clinic bombings and hate crimes against homosexuals that have been committed by fundamentalist christians, you wouldn't find an equal if not higher number?

you are certainly not happy when people judge all christians based on the actions of a few people who have "misinterpreted" the bible. then how is it fair at all to say that all muslims want to kill infidels because some fundamentalist muslims have decided that that is what the holy books tell them?

i don't understand why more people don't see this parallel.


Hal said...

Meera, I don't think all Muslims, and British Muslims, in particular here, think that their religion preaches violence and death. I never said so in this post.

The point of the post was to point out that when those demonstrations were taking place, those "peaceful" protesters were treated with full freedom of speech rights. Ironic that they were demonstrating against such rights.

Another problem is that while not all British Muslims support such violence, far too many do. Recent polling amongst British Muslims concluded that about half of them think that the violence in response to the Muhammad cartoons was appropriate. About the same number thought that the bombings of 7/7 were appropriate.

I'd say that there is a cultural problem brewing there. Your mileage may vary.

Hal said...

Okay, cleaning up my mess.

I should stop throwing out poll numbers from memory rather than having the polls right in front of me. Those "about half" numbers were way off the mark.

According to polls back in July, 16% think the 7/7 bombers were martyrs, and 7-16% think that suicide bombings against British targets is justified. Two percent would be proud of having a family member join al Qaeda, while 16% would be indifferent. If they knew of a bomb plot hatched by their fellow muslims, only 73% would inform the authorities.

While those numbers aren't as high as I originally remembered, they are dangerously high. Out of Britain's 1.6 million Muslims, that represents hundreds of thousands.

So, to answer the original question I asked Steve: British Muslims, by and large, feel that killing infidenls is a proper response to an insult to Islam? False, but not false enough.

Anonymous said...

Hello. I'm one of those "fundamentalist Christians" that believes the Bible is the Word of God. I've never come across a verse that describes anything about killing homosexuals. The entire gist of the New Testament is one of wanting others to be Saved before death. Not death before being saved. I do believe that those who do not accept Jesus as their Personal Savior are doomed to live eternity without Him. If I want others to accept the same gift of salvation they have been offered, why would I do anything to make them not want that gift, or even worse- kill them before they accept? It doesn't make any sense.

Steve the Troll said...

Hal, I think those numbers you cited are probably about the same as the number of americans who think dragging gays behind pickup trucks by their necks is a good time.

To the anonymous fundy: Genesis 19:1-26 and Leviticus 18:22-20:13 for what God says about gays. Also check out: Deuteronomy 13:6-10, Deuteronomy 21:18-21 in case you forgot when it's time to kill your family.

Hal said...

Probably? Steve, I've learned my lesson on statistics. Don't cite them unless you know them. In this case, is this "probably" based on your knowledge of polls, your judgement based on news events, or just your opinion?

We can correlate those British polling numbers to the number of mosques in Britain which actively recruit and preach such violence. We can correlate it to the number of terrorist attacks that have been pulled off and those that have been thwarted through massive arrests.

When you say that those numbers are probably the same in America, what are you basing that on?

steve the troll said...

Unfortunately, because of the Christian vibe in this country, anyone who asked, in a survey, "how do you feel about dragging gays behind pickup trucks?" would probably get dragged behind a pickup truck. Of course there are no statistics for this specific question.

However, I know the bible says that being gay is an abomination. I also know that Christians can be violent (holocaust, KKK, etc.). So, putting the two together, it would surprise me if the millions of Christians in this country didn't take God's word seriously.

You're protestant, right? Don't you know that the Bible is the inerrant word of God? Don't you know that God accurately says that being gay is an abomination? And God also says, inerrantly, that it's okay to kill your family! So I would say if the people who say 100% of the protestants in this country (~50% of the population) should be for killing their own families!

Please tell me where God and I are wrong here!

Hal said...

Translation: I base this on nothing other than preconceived opinion of Christians.

meera said...

the problem with trying to compare british muslims who want to kill with american christians who want to kill is that only one of those groups has been polled.

yes, we have numbers on british muslims. how do we know that's a statistically significant percent, though? do we know, if you poll a random population, that we won't come up with 10% of people who lean one way? and more importantly for this discussion, do we know what the percent of christians are who feel gays/heathens/people with pink socks should die?

as much as steve is using preconceived notions to say many christians want whoever to die, hal you are using your view on christians to say that they don't.

really, can't we all just hug it out?

Hal said...

I'm no expert on statistics and polling methods, and I'd have to pull up the original polling data again, but usually poll data is reported with a standard deviation included. As in, "This poll is accurate within +/-3%." While polls sometimes are wrong, they are usually in the ballpark. For those polling numbers on British Muslims, even if they're off by 10%, those are still statistically significant numbers. Also, being off by 10% means something was drastically wrong with the methods used in the poll.

I'm not aware of polling data that reflects Christian attitudes on homosexuality and the death penalty. However, in the absence of such data, I consider the next best thing to be the playing out of such opinions.

In Britain, we saw terror attacks, terror arrests, and violent protests.

In America, we see rare attacks on gay people, and Fred Phelps and his small but crazy group running around harrassing military families.

You're right. There is a problem comparing the two.

Addendum: Being an American Christian, and thus very familiar with that subculture, I feel I'm somewhat suited to talk about the attitudes and leanings of that group without polling data.

-Murphy said...

While polls sometimes are wrong, they are usually in the ballpark. For those polling numbers on British Muslims, even if they're off by 10%, those are still statistically significant numbers. Also, being off by 10% means something was drastically wrong with the methods used in the poll.

I'm not sure you need to have a margin of error of 10 points, though. Usually, you can get ten percent of people polled to agree to just about anything. Which is the problem with polls in the first place, that they can be manipulated to arrive at predetermined conclusions, and that they're capable, even in the best of conditions, of coming up with something that honestly represents the population at large. Consider the polling company that had worked for Bush and Lieberman and others, and recently came out with "we talked to dogs to get quotas".

I'm just naturally distrustful of polls, though.

In America, we see rare attacks on gay people

That's a different statistic though. Steve's original allegation, which mirrors the charge that a certain percentage of British Muslims wish to either condone or actively support terrorism (not that have comitted it, which is an important distinction), was that probably about 7-10% of American Christians would either condone or actively support hurting homosexuals. Not that they've actually done it, or may ever do it of their own volition, but that they think it may be justified, that the perpitrators would be heroes or that perhaps a slightly larger percentage may not inform the authorities if they were privy to information. Is that true? I don't know. Not my allegation, and I'd not feel comfortable pretending that I know the feelings of somewhere around twenty million people (7% of 80% of the US Pop). I'm sure you could probably get a poll to say that, though, depending on where you polled, what questions you asked, how controlled your sample size was and whether or not you included Rover.

And if those numbers are right, I'd suppose that the margin of error is 4.5%, centered on 11.5%

And yes, Denny's rules.

steve the troll said...

Meera, I love you.

Hal, aren't all Americans part of the Christian subculture and thus suited to comment on such matters? I was raised Christian, and even though I've denounced it now, I really haven't been able to distance myself from it.