Thursday, 22 May 2014

Welcome to Room 101

The thought police are primed, ready to launch a dawn raid on anyone who dares to cause upset. They will respond immediately at the first sign of a tear in the eye of a sensitive soul, and bring the full force of political correctness upon the head of any who don't think the way they are supposed to.

Examples of this are too numerous to mention and too ridiculous to parody, but one local one will suffice. Pastor James McConnell of Whitewell Metropolitan Tabernacle, Belfast, gave a sermon on Sunday about Islam. It wasn't terribly well thought-through, nor was it very sensitively put, in fact some of what he said made me cringe. He painted with a really broad-brush (like one of those big rollers!) but hey, that's not a crime, oh wait, it is actually! In our society you can actually be prosecuted for what you believe! He hasn't laid a finger on anybody, nor has he encouraged or compelled anyone else to do so, yet he is being investigated by the police for hate crime!

Please note, hate crime is thought crime - you are a criminal for your thoughts or emotions. "Oh" someone might say, "you can think or feel what you want as long as you don't express it!" OK, thank you so much, but that's the same religious freedom you get in North Korea.

But James McConnell says that he hates nobody, but that won't stop the police investigation, they will get their magnifying glasses and look into his mind and heart to see if there is any hate there, and if they think there is he will have to be rehabilitated, because as one Muslim representative said, his comments were "inflammatory" and "have no place in our society." His words might incite others to assault Muslims, but wait, can the police not just punish the person that commits the crime? Are we really to be treated like mindless drones who just do what our leaders imply we should do?

But let's be clear, the response of the members of McConnell's church will be to pray for Muslims and seek to win them to Christ. Not one of the members of his church will commit an act of violence against a Muslim because of his sermon, and if anyone does I am pretty sure it will result in disciplinary action from the church. If McConnell has the influence some people fear he has well then there's no need to worry, because he is crystal clear that no one should use violence against anyone. Believe me, if you are walking down the Shore Road in Belfast on your own at night and you see a group of youths approaching you, you will have nothing to fear if you discover they are just coming from a Bible study at Whitewell, even if you are a Muslim. It's not Bible-believing Christians who are committing acts of violence in our society.

Stephen Nolan tried to suggest that was in spite of what the Bible teaches not because of it, and he quoted the Mosaic law about adulterers needing to be stoned to death. Why flaunt your ignorance, Stephen? Has he never taken time to ask a knowledgeable Christian about this before? It's not difficult. The Mosaic law was given to the nation of Israel and was part of their covenant with God. Israel was a theocracy and was the nation through whom Christ would come. For that reason the genealogies were vital and thus sexual immorality was a capital crime. That covenant was brought to an end by Christ (New Testament just means New Covenant). So the penalties of the Mosaic law were not for the Gentiles then, and they are for no one now.

Let me point something else out, Christopher Hitchens wrote a book called God's not Great, How Religion Poisons Everything. Richard Dawkins has said that bringing a child up in a religion is more damaging than sexually abusing that child. Using the same rules that are being applied to McConnell, how is that not inflammatory? It is far more inflammatory than anything McConnell said. How is that not hate speech? There is far more hate coming from atheism towards religion in general and Christianity in particular, than there is coming from Christianity. Should Hitchens have been locked up? Should Dawkins be investigated? Is the law being applied fairly and equally here? Atheists frequently (and incorrectly) state that religion causes all the wars and problems in the world. Should I go to the police wringing my hands, sniffling and crying to tell them that I find that upsetting - the big nasty atheist offended me? Or should I take my thumb out of my mouth, grow up and seek to show the person he is wrong? Whoever you are, whatever your beliefs, I hope you agree it is criminal to criminalise thought.