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Freedom of Speech – Are you having a laugh!

Loughborough Church Sunderland New Springs - Freedom-of-Speech-Are-you-having-a-laughSo, the General Election has taken place and yet again the political world has been thrown into a spin. Theresa May only called the election in the first place because she was showing a twenty point lead over Jeremy Corbyn and thought she would secure a landslide and thus strengthen her overall position in the Brexit negotiations.

In the end Mrs May didn’t even land a majority and was left fighting for her political life by trying to do a deal with the DUP. It’s certainly a strange world we live in – but now we have the party that lost claiming a victory and the party that won trying to cling onto power. I guess that’s the crazy world of politics for you.

Of course, all elections have their casualties – men and women who were formerly MPs but who lost to another candidate and another party. For the Conservatives and the Prime Minister there were many this time round. One of the first jobs Theresa May had to do was to apologise to all her former Westminster colleagues who had lost their jobs. No doubt they were none-too-pleased as there was no need for this snap election to be called in the first place. They could all have been representing their various constituencies for at least a further three years. But that’s the way the political cookie crumbles. There are casualties and losses in every party during elections and that’s the way democracy works.

But there was another very interesting casualty thanks to the election and it actually happened one week after the vote took place. Strangely enough, it was a person who actually won back his seat and was re-elected.  I’m talking the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron MP.   Mr Farron gave up the leadership of the Lib Dems even though his party gained many more members under his two year leadership and he actually saw an increase in the total number of MPs that entered parliament, up from 8 to 13. So why did he feel he should resign? Well, he says it was because he had been hounded throughout the campaign by the media and press about his personal Christian beliefs in particular on the subject of homosexuality.

During and after his resignation speech this is what he said,

‘From the very first day of my leadership I found I was asked questions about my personal faith. I tried to answer with grace and patience, but I accept at times I could have answered more wisely.

The consequence of the focus on my faith is that I have found myself torn between living as a faithful Christian and serving as a political leader. To be a political leader especially of a progressive Liberal Party in 2017 and to be a committed Christian, i.e.  to hold faithful to the Bibles teaching, has felt impossible to me.’

The questions he was hounded with by journalists were ‘did he believe homosexual sex and abortion was sin?’ Of course, generally speaking, the Christian faith would say they were.

He went on to say,

I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who I believe in – in which case we are kidding ourselves if we think we yet live in a tolerant liberal society.’ 

So let me nail my colours firmly to the mast. In no way am I a supporter of the Liberal Democrat party. In fact I disagree with many of their polices and philosophies and I struggle to see how many of them can possibly line up with Christian biblical belief. However, at the same time, I would passionately fight for the right of any Liberal Democrat to be so. And I would also profusely argue for the right of any of them to express their personal views, whether Christian or not, without being castigated for it. That’s what freedom of speech is all about. And let me say I know many fantastic Christian people who are Liberal Democrats.

Personally I am totally appalled at the way Tim Farron was bombarded with the homosexual question. If free speech means anything surely he has a right to his own personal belief even if it is Christian. It’s not as if he was pushing his personal beliefs onto anyone else? In fact, he even stated that he wouldn’t want to do this to anyone at the time.

So let’s ask the question then, what is this thing called ‘freedom of speech?’

The dictionary would define it as ‘the power and right to express ones opinions without censorship, restraint or legal penalty’.

Freedom of Speech is actually a human right according to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Now I appreciate there needs to be a line drawn somewhere. Freedom of speech should never cross the line into hatred or downright abuse. However, surely a person should be able to say they believe in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Bible without receiving media recrimination. Christianity in Britain should be something well within the acceptable line. After all Britain was and is built on Christian values.

It’s interesting isn’t it? The press will go to the greatest lengths to ensure they have the right to freedom of speech and the freedom of press. But if they think there’s a whiff of a story, even if they have to distort the facts, they are prepared to hound individuals when they use their right to free speech and belief. I don’t know about you but I can remember way back when the press actually just reported news instead of creating it!  The truth is the press has double standards, they speak with forked tongue. They condemn folk for things they do themselves. Where the press is concerned it’s a case of one rule for one and another rule for another. They do what they want and always seem to get away with it whether it’s fair, true or fake news.

But here’s my point – why isn’t there a level playing field? Why doesn’t the press challenge others on their personal beliefs and not just those who profess to be Christians?

You see there is no doubt that there would have been many other parliamentary candidates who stood at this election who would have exactly the same beliefs as Tim Farron had, so why weren’t they challenged and brought to book on the issue in the same way? Take any Muslim candidate for example. Most Muslims would believe homosexuality was absolutely wrong so why weren’t they highlighted, where was their challenge?

Islam is clear in its condemnation of homosexuality. Islamic scholars cite the following reasons condemning it, based on the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah:

Firstly, it clashes with the ‘natural’ order in which God created human beings. Secondly, it brings dysfunction to the family and the institutions of marriage. And thirdly, it leads people to ignore God’s guidance in other areas of life.

Furthermore, in Islamic terminology, homosexuality is alternatively called al-fahsha which means an obscene act or shudhuda which means abnormality. lslam generally teaches that believers should neither take part in homosexuality nor indeed support it in away.

Now, in anyone’s language that’s a pretty categorical belief. Yet, you don’t see the press hounding candidates who are Muslim concerning where they stand on the homosexual issue or anything else for that matter. Can you imagine the uproar if they were to be constantly challenged on what their personal views were on, for example, arranged marriage or FGM?

But then again, let’s take it out of the religious and faith arena. There would have been other election candidates who profess no faith whatsoever who would believe exactly as Mr Farron believes where homosexuality and abortion are concerned. I suppose among them could be atheists, agnostics, humanists, evolutionists and all types, yet neither do we see the press focusing and challenging these candidates about their personal beliefs.

And why would this be, I ask? Could it be the journalists, press and the media are extremely cautious when it comes to offending the Muslim faith as well as others. Could it be they are even fearful of the deserved uproar and backlash that would ensue if they were to treat them like they did Mr Farron?

So why on earth is the Bible believing Christian always targeted? The answer is pretty clear to my mind, it’s all about the unjust bias that the press has against Christians. Don’t you think it happens too often in the press and society as a whole to be classed as coincidence?

You see, believe it or not, the point I am really making here hasn’t got anything to do with Islamic belief or homosexuality or abortion. It is about there being a level playing field. Is it too much to ask that everyone gets treated in the same way?  The fact is the press saw Tim Farron as an easy target. But is this not just yet another perfect example of Christians being targeted, ridiculed and marginalised to the periphery by the media. For me where Mr Farron was concerned, it was simply a case of ‘here we go again!’ – Yet another clear example of a positive press bias against Christianity and those who have it as their faith.

It seems to me that nowadays you can believe in absolutely anything, tree hugging, astrology, mysticism, higher powers, the great architect in the sky, all manner of superstition, New Ageism, New Atheism, conspiracy theories, UFOs, Extra Terrestrials, humanism, ghosts and the supernatural, Feng Shui, free thinking, secularism, paganism, satanism …… and so the list goes on and on. Anything goes, that’s their prerogative we are told.  And everything seems acceptable; it’s fine whatever floats your boat. However, if you say you are a committed Bible believing Christian who believes in Jesus Christ and that you are trying to live in an honest and righteous way then you are vilified, treated with suspicion, marginalised, told to pipe down, challenged, given the label that says boring, weak, feeble, irrational and somehow you’re seen as citizens of a place called crazy town! You are seen as fair game to have scorn heaped upon you and be pilloried and lampooned with torrents of humiliation!

Freedom of speech, freedom of belief, tolerant society – please, are you having a laugh??

So until next time, keep standing up for the truth and for Jesus.