Can you imagine the outcry which would ensue if the Gay Police Association released the above advert, in an attempt to highlight religious hate crime against gay people? But they didn't release that one, they released the one below.
According to the text of the advert, ‘In the last 12 months, the GPA has recorded a 74% increase in homophobic incidents, where the sole or primary motivating factor was the religious belief of the perpetrator.’ All Christians are they? I very much doubt it.
We all know that, with the possible exception of Buddhism, all religions have problems with homosexuality. I'm not a deeply religious person but I regard myself as having broadly Christian values. I regard the Gay Police Association's advert as deeply offensive both to Christians and gay people. Could they not have thought of another way to raise the issue? Indeed, couldn't you reasonably think that the advert actually incites gay people to hate Christians?
Archbishop Cranmer, who first drew this to my attention, believes the poster is in itself a 'faith crime'. He says: "The clear inference is that Christians have blood on their hands, and the Bible condones violence towards homosexuals. The heading ‘In the name of the Father’ drags the name of the Lord through the mud, and grossly misrepresents the message of love and forgiveness that was preached by Jesus."
Cranmer goes on: "If the ‘religious belief of the perpetrator’ was the ‘cause’ of these attacks, were all the perpetrators Christian? Certainly, the Qur’an contains some forceful condemnation of homosexual acts, but the GPA would not dare to produce an advertisement that might be deemed ‘racist’ or offensive to a religious minority. But the Christians? Well, they’re easy meat, and who cares if any of them are offended...?"
I think this is a prime example of where the Church of England needs to be far more robust in defending itself and its faith. Too often the Church bows to the altar of political correctness and is afraid to come out fighting.
However, gay rights activists see nothing wrong with the advert. Pink News reports HERE that Ben Summerskill chief executive of gay charity Stonewall said: “The advert is based on robust evidence, we currently know of a number of cases where the motivation is clearly based on someone’s beliefs from the Bible. I would rather Scotland Yard spent more time investigating homophobic incidents. The GPA wouldn’t be saying these things if they weren’t valid.”
The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association's George Broadhead wrote a letter to the GPA backing their stance, he said: "It is outrageous that Christians should suggest that complaints about their homophobia amount to an attack on their 'religious freedom'. It increasingly appears that 'religious freedom' amounts to a freedom to attackand insult gay people.“The Government's granting of exemptions from equality legislation to allow religious groups to go on discriminating against gay people is an example of this. Under the new Goods and Services Discrimination Regulations which come into effect in October, it will be illegal to discriminate against gay people in the provision of goods and services from that date, but religious groups are pressing for exemptions that would allow them, uniquely, to continue to do so. How religious people can claim that their faith is not homophobic is incomprehensible."
He has a point there, but my issue here is not with the message of the advert - it's that it concentrates on Christians, as if they were the only people who had homophobic tendencies. If we're going to throw accusations of homophobia around, let's not just pick on one group.
If the statistic is correct - that religious-inspired hate crimes against gay people are up by 74%, then there is obviously a problem. But adverts like this not only do nothing to tackle the problem, they exacerbate it.