Saturday, March 05, 2005

Theological Correctness 

Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests of the church. -- James 5:14

The plague-bearing rodent rattus evangelicus has made a transatlantic voyage, and our friends across the briny have already felt its bite. Here's Magnus Linklater of the Scotsman on a "militant evangelical group" called Christian Voice:
Last week [Christian Voice] used a blatant threat to persuade the Scottish-based cancer charity, Maggie’s Centres, to turn down a £3,000 donation from the musical Jerry Springer the Opera, which it termed "blasphemous". It warned that if the charity accepted the money then it would call out its members to picket the charity’s premises and jam its switchboards with protest calls. It would spread the word that the Maggie’s Centres had accepted "tainted" money, thus ensuring that funds from Christian sources dried up. It gave the charity less than 24 hours to agree - which, reluctantly, it did . . . .

There was more than a whiff of intimidation in these tactics. Until Christian Voice intervened, the Maggie’s Centres, which do wonderful work for cancer victims, were looking forward to receiving an extra £3,000 to spend on them. The offer from the Jerry Springer cast to devote a matinee performance to raise funds was a generous one which any charity would have welcomed. If there were doubts about the source it was up to the charity itself to detect them - not some interfering and malicious propaganda group.

Of course, the Maggie’s Centres should never have given way to this outrageous pressure. But they faced a dilemma. If the threat of picketing and hostile calls had been implemented, then the first victims would have been their vulnerable clients who visit the centres every day for advice, help and support. . . . .

I doubt if Christian Voice and its fellow pressure group, the anti-abortion UK Life League, are worth the publicity they have received, but they are part of a trend which we need to be aware of. In its campaign against the BBC, which screened a TV version of Jerry Springer, it circulated the home telephone numbers and addresses of senior BBC executives to its members. Now it is exerting similar pressure on regional theatres which are considering staging the show. It is campaigning against abortion by proclaiming that it is the equivalent of the Holocaust, and accusing those who practise it of being Nazis. And it uses its website to attack the police for recruiting homosexuals . . . .

I don’t know how far Christian Voice goes along with this kind of crazed thinking. But if its tactics are anything to go by, it and its fellow-organisations are already well down the road towards extremism. Their campaigns against abortion, homosexuality and blasphemy follow precisely the American pattern, and they quote US evangelists with approval and admiration. If they are prepared to use blackmail, as they have done against the Maggie’s Centres, to achieve their ends, then they deserve to be exposed for what they really are - intolerant, vindictive and unforgiving. This is not the true voice of Christianity and it deserves to be shouted down at every opportunity.
UPDATE (3/6): It should not surprise you to learn that our distinguished colleague Alex Harrowell, a/k/a the Yorkshire Ranter, has much more on Christian Voice and affiliated groups, as does Nick Barlow.

Also of interest: Alex has noticed that the Iraq casualty lists include an abnormally high percentage of officers and senior NCO's.

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