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Christians must reflect after UK bars U.S. anti-gay preacher

February 24, 2009

The British government has done its bit and barred an American anti-gay Christian preacher and his daughter from entering the country - now it’s up to churches to do theirs, a group of evangelical Christians says.

The Reverend Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, and his daughter Shirley Phelps-Roper, were barred from entering Britain after it emerged they planned to protest against a play about the murder of a gay man.

The reverend picketed the funeral of the student in the U.S. declaring he was “burning in hell” and has staged protests outside theatres.

Phelps believes the U.S. is doomed for tolerating homosexuals. The government last week said the pair were anticipated to spread “extremism and hatred”.

Six major British Christian groups, among them the Evangelical Alliance and the Baptist Union (which is not associated with Phelps’ church), issued a statement condemning the proposed visit.

“We do not share their hatred of lesbian and gay people,” they said.

“We believe that God loves all, irrespective of sexual orientation, and we unreservedly stand against their message of hate toward those communities.”

But a group of evangelical groups said Christians had to do more than just condemn with words. They had to face up to their own discriminatory policies and behaviour.

“The real challenge to evangelicals is to face the need for change themselves,” a group which includes Accepting Evangelicals, Courage and the Network of Baptists Affirming Lesbian and Gay Christians, says.

“This means: engaging more fully and openly with lesbian and gay Christians and accepting them as equal under God; examining the way prejudice against gay people has distorted biblical understanding; prayerfully re-thinking church policies of exclusion and acknowledging the harm they cause; and recognising the growing number of evangelicals who have had a heart-change and now affirm faithful gay relationships.”

Others signing the joint statement are the Evangelical Fellowship for Lesbian and Gay Christians and the Christian think-tank Ekklesia.

They said they recognised a growing trend, nationally and internationally, among evangelicals to challenge “what has been a hardline stance against gay people from within that global segment of Christianity”.

They cited a recent case where the deputy head of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) in the U.S. resigned after criticism because he was moving to an “affirming” position on faithful lesbian and gay relationships.

“We would now call upon these groups to reflect on their own attitudes and prayerfully consider what their “hate the sin, love the sinner” teaching does to the minds and souls of faithful Christians who are gay,” they add.

“In the Gospels, Jesus warns his followers not to avoid their own failings by pointing to the failings of others – even if they are much larger. Westboro Baptist Church operates as a hate group and is an easy target. The real challenge to evangelicals is to face the need for change themselves.”

Comments

People who seek to undermine UK society – WELCOME!

People who don’t agree with Socialist dogma – BANNED!

Thank God this contemptible government will soon be gone.

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive
 

The UK government is showing its hypocrisy once again. The barring of the American anti-gay Christian preacher and his daughter from entering the country seems to impress the whole world that they will not tolerate discrimination and hate speeches, yet the very law of England is discriminatory against the Catholic Church since a successor to the throne will become ineligible if he marries a Catholic! It is in their law! That is HATE!

Of course it doesn’t mean that I agree 100% with the preacher and his daughter, but freedom of expression whether for or against a segment of the society must not be curtailed! The only situation where we can curtail such freedom if it will result to a security threat such that it is tantamount to incite people to sedition or rebellion or during war. These are basic principles in democracy. People who are offended on those speeches must not do violent acts. If they feel aggrieved, they can REFUTE the same by answering point by point the contentions of their dissenters. Neither should a State be an instrument to suppress the same.

It is sad to note that we claim to be civilized people yet we are primitive in handling our dissenters. This is very shameful. I hope UK wil reconsider its decisions and policies when it come to freedom of speech.

Posted by Daniel Rosaupan | Report as abusive
 

the book of acts clearly gives a glimpse of the early church as a model to follow.so many churches have invented a different identity to suit the life style of their congregations.sadly as they stretch and modify scripture to accommodate a sin full life style ,rather than be reformed by gods truth,they stagnate and cater only to their own emotional needs.a true reflection of the vitality of a particular congregation is how many from their ranks have gone into the “mission field”?

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive
 

The desires that may grow within a group of people may not be of what religious scriptures allow.Its sad that today we have our scriptures modified and interpreted in such a way that it suits a trend within society.This anti-gay preacher has the right and freedom of speech and so do the listeners to agree or disagree to it.It’s democracy isn’t it?This may be hard to be swallowed down the throat of some people,but it could help certainly the detriment of many.

Posted by Azum | Report as abusive
 

istm the only group one is allowed to hate in the uk are orthodox (small o) christians. christ is called a “rock of offence” and one who came “with a sword;” nowhere from genesis to revelation is there any command to sanctify the status quo or to lead society by pandering to it. no wonder the best and most earnest christians within the c of e fold are leaving it!

Posted by jd | Report as abusive
 

i agree with you azum,but the people i am talking about they are having an identity problem ,a christian is called a christian if he follows jesus teachings ,that is how it is defined.if a group of people are meeting and they are following a similar set of objectives, like loving each for example,but are following there own rules the are not christians.a statement that jesus made “was sorry i don,t know “you and that was meant to apply to people who thought they were christians.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive
 

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