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Unity of Christian opposition to SORs as misrepresentations about opposition are rebutted

Printer-friendly version 19th January 2007

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.’ (Luther's Works. Weimar Edition. Briefwechsel [Correspondence], vol. 3, pp. 81f.).

Summary

We wish to take this opportunity to thank all the many thousands of Christians who have prayed and taken action to defend the freedom to live by the Bible’s teaching in relation to the Sexual Orientation Regulations (SORs).

Not only did over 10,000 Christians sign a petition (in 2 weeks) to the Queen and over 3,000 travel from across the country to the freedom rally outside Parliament, many hundreds of churches and small groups held prayer meetings to earnestly seek God’s Will in this matter.

We ask that people would pray for the Cabinet as it is expected that they may make a decision on the final content of the England, Wales and Scotland SORs over the next weeks.

The recent high profile of the Christian opposition to elements of the SORs (see the press coverage at http://www.lawcf.org/index.asp?page=PP+Media+Coverage) has led to many misrepresentations, some deliberate and others simply misinformed, about the approach to and the substance of concerns held by groups such as the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship. Please read the ‘Further Information’ section below to see an explanation and response to some of the misinformation that has been circulated in the media and other outlets.

NOTE IN PARTICULAR THE UNIFIED NATURE OF THE OPPOSITION TO THE SORs BY MANY CHRISTIANS ORGANISATIONS AND GROUPS LISTED IN THE LINKS (BELOW).

Links

  1. Church of England- http://www.cofe.anglican.org/info/papers/sorresponse.rtf and http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id =419280&in_page_id=1770

  2. Catholic Bishops’ Conference- http://www.lawcf.org/index.asp?page=Catholic+submission+to+SOR+consultation

  3. Anglican Mainstream- http://www.anglican-mainstream.net/?p=1007

  4. Evangelical Alliance- www.eauk.org/sexual-orientation-regulations.cfm and http://www.lawcf.org/index.asp?page=Evangelical+Alliance+article+on+SORs

  5. The Christian Institute- http://www.christian.org.uk/html-publications/pub_homosexualrights.htm

  6. CARE-

    http://www.care.org.uk/Group/Group.aspx?id=30233

  7. Affinity- http://www.affinity.org.uk/teams/article/responding_to_proposed_sexual_ orientation_regulations/

  8. Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship- http://www.lawcf.org/index.asp?page=LCF+Response+to+SOR+consultation

    for an up to date briefing, see http://www.lawcf.org/index.asp?page=Northern+Ireland+SOR+Legal+Briefing

  9. Also, see the article by Lord Mackay of Clashfern, one of the foremost legal minds in the country, about the dangers of the Regulations, at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/01/09/ do0901.xml

Further Information

The position of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship (LCF) in highlighting concerns about the SORs has been clear from our first publication on the matter in May 2006 (see link 8 above): as Christians we are called to love all people, irrespective of sexual orientation, but we are also called to live with integrity according to the Bible’s teaching that extra-marital sexual practices are wrong.

In recent days there has been a substantial amount of misinformation given about the opposition of LCF and some other Christian groups to the SORs. We welcome anyone who is unclear about the truth of our position to look back at the documents we have produced on this issue (available at http://www.lawcf.org/index.asp?page=PP+Resources).

During the extensive media coverage of the SORs over the past weeks (generated as a result of the freedom rally and the petition coordinated by the LCF and Christian Concern for our Nation, in conjunction with churches) many of those who support the full impact of the unamended SORs misrepresented the position of Christians on the SORs. For example, Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive Officer of Stonewall stated on media outlets that Christians wished to deny basic services to gay people, for example, admission to hospices, hospital waiting lists, etc while Peter Tatchell (from the gay lobby group ‘Outrage’) repeatedly described all opponents to the Regulations as a minority group of ‘fundamentalist religious bigots’.

Many Christians have also questioned the approach taken by those opposing the full content of the SORs. It is hoped that all critics have listened carefully to what has actually being said. We paraphrase a quote from an LCF spokesperson (speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live on the day of the rally) to paint a representative picture of LCF’s approach to these issues:


Interviewer: “So why are you opposing this law”


LCF Response: “Let me first make it clear that as Christians we oppose all forms of unjustified discrimination in society, including on the grounds of sexual orientation. Thousands of years before anyone had thought of human rights legislation or non-discrimination legislation, the Bible gave a far more powerful pronouncement against discrimination by commanding us to love our neighbours as ourselves. Following the Bible will achieve more than any Regulation could at eliminating unfair discrimination”


“However, what these Regulation do is they go beyond outlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation by requiring Christians, in certain circumstances, to go against the Bible’s fundamental teaching about sexual morality”


“Let me tell you why it is a problem that these Regulations deny this fundamental freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. Firstly, we do not think that the Government should legislate to force Christians to act against their fundamental beliefs. Secondly, this law subverts the message of Christianity, which is of God’s love for all people and his desire for all people to turn from their sins and know the joy of being reconciled with Him. This message to repent and believe makes no sense if Christians are forced to condone sinful behaviour.”


As Christians we are compelled to speak Gospel Truth into a society crying out for help. We are all sinners redeemed by the blood of Jesus. When the Government is about to introduce laws that will compel some Christians to be complicit in sinful behaviour then as Christians the most loving thing to do is to speak out. However, many in society are intolerant of a message that whilst God loves every individual, it is contrary to His will to indulge in sex outside marriage, including gay sex. Those who are prepared to speak this message will be labelled homophobic, bigoted and extreme.


As well as the general issue of whether or not Christians should be standing up against the impact of the SORs, there have been specific challenges from politicians and others suggesting that claims made by LCF and others about the Regulations are exaggerated and inaccurate. At every stage of our analysis of the law, a team of lawyers within LCF has analysed the Regulations and Government statements and have sought reassurances that our concerns would be met. At no stage have we ever received such assurances. We will shortly be producing a legal briefing which will address all these specific criticisms and substantiate why an accurate legal analysis of the Regulations highlights the reality of the concerns we (and other Christian organisations) have been expressing.

The most recent LCF briefing (sent to all Peers before the 9th January debate) is attached to this e-mail. You will see these Briefings are intended to set out the position clearly and in no way exaggerate or mislead anyone. We also attach a basic Q&A sheet dealing with some of the points that have been put to LCF.


The Rally

Finally, it has been noted that some quotations in the Christian Press have made unjustified criticisms of the freedom rally that was held outside Parliament on the 9th January.


In the Church Times the leader of Faithworks, the Revd Malcolm Duncan, described the demonstrators’ approach as “virulent and aggressive” and said: “Vociferous opposition, a lack of constructive dialogue, and threats of civil disobedience mean that the Church is in danger of sounding homophobic”. His view was supported by the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement who said “A small group of fundamentalist Christians have led a wicked campaign of disinformation about these regulations, making claims that anyone who bothered to read them could see were false.”

We would disagree strongly with these comments. The feedback from hundreds of Christians who attended the rally was a positive view of the time spent peacefully praying, singing hymns and praising God. The Bishop of Southwell, Bishop of Rochester and Bishop of Winchester were present for a time at the rally, as well as many vicars, ministers and pastors. 99% of the banners declared simple messages of ‘freedom to believe’ and ‘freedom of conscience’. See the photos at:

http://www.lawcf.org/CMS/uploads/438/documents/Rally%20photos %202%20%20%209th%20Jan%202007.pdf.

There were many children at the rally, hundreds of torches were waved symbolically as light in the darkness, and there were Christians from all denominations, including people from most of the organisations listed in the ‘links’ section (above).

Briefing pack for Peers 9th Jan debate CCFON version 11th Jan 2007
SOR Q & A sheet 19th Jan 2007



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