Friday, June 24, 2005

Mammon bites back

For a long time Christians (and others) have been trying to hold banks to account for the way that they use their money. Today, the shoe is on the other foot as the Co-op bank has banned a Christian group.

The group in question is Christian Voice - most famous for protesting loudly against the BBC showing Jerry Spinger the Opera. They have issued a rather hysterical statement accusing the Co-op of 'militant pro-homosexuality' and being 'politically-correct bully-boys'. (Of course, Christian Voice would never engage in bullying of any kind, would they?)

But I'm not sure that this is right. Christian Voice's website is quite clear that to advocate or accept civil rights for gay people is to be 'pro-homosexuality', even down to a whole section complaining about the police's policy of non-discrimination for gay people. There are serious issues of civil and human rights here that take the issue way beyond being policitally-correct.

In my experience most people accept that the church and many Christians have difficulties with homosexuality. They know that the Bible speaks against it. They may not agree, but they respect Christians who say that their religion won't allow Christians to be gay.

What they don't accept is why this means some Christians feel the need to actively persecute gay people. Gay people are human and on that basis, not because they are morally virtuous, they are entitled to respect and civil rights. It may be wrong for a Christian to be gay, but it doesn't mean that gay people should be treated as second class citizens. We've had Christians arguing that gay people shouldn't be employed as church cleaners; that gay people shouldn't be allowed in the army and that teachers should be allowed to turn a blind eye to bullying of gay pupils. This is when Christian principles turns into homophobia.

For all the nice words, Christians who want to deny civil rights to gay people are homophobic and have lost touch with the Gospel of Jesus. Christian Voice and others who would persecute gay people bring that Gospel into disrepute.

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