an information resource
for orthodox Anglicans

Organic Grocery Store in Portland, Oregon, Gets the Brendan Eich Treatment

April 17th, 2014 Jill Posted in Freedom Of Speech, Gay Activism, Religious Liberty, Thought Crime Comments Off

By Elizabeth Nolan Brown,

When is a purveyor of locally sourced produce and free-range organic meat not welcome in Portland? When it's owned by individuals who don't support marriage equality. So this is really a thing we're doing now, huh folks?

Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich's resignation has dominated online discourse for the last week or so. Eich was hit with an onslaught of public disapprobation after being outed by dating site OK Cupid as a supporter of California's now moot same sex marriage ban.
The situation in Portland is interesting because it captures a lot of the same sides and themes as the Eich story on a much smaller scale. Here's some background, from The Oregonian:
Facebook and other social media sites have exploded over a soon-to-open fresh meat and vegetable store called Moreland Farmers Pantry. Neighbors and nearby business owners, once excited by the prospect of the new shop, are now backing away.
"They’re choosing to open a business in a very open-minded neighborhood," said Tom Brown, owner of Brown Properties and president of the Sellwood Moreland Business Alliance. "I think their personal views are going to hurt."
There's something beautiful about a man unironically pointing to a community's open-mindedness by way of explaining its commitment to shun those with different viewpoints. Another neighbor called the store's owner naive for thinking someone who doesn't believe in same sex marriage would be able to sell free-range eggs in such a tolerant neighborhood.
Read here
Rod Dreher fleshes out What Monster Mormon Chauncy Childs Said in The American Thinker, and updates on the persecution of the Portland restaurateur who believes in same-sex marriage but who publicly criticized the boycott of the Chauncy Childs store in a further article, Portlandia Sharia: The Purge Widens
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American pro-family activist LaBarbera arrested in Canada

April 15th, 2014 Jill Posted in Freedom Of Speech, Gay Activism Comments Off

By John-Henry Westen, LifeSite News

A prominent U.S. pro-family activist who was detained by the Canadian Border Services Agency before being allowed into Canada on appeal was arrested late Monday on the campus of the University of Regina. Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality was arrested along with Canadian pro-family activist Bill Whatcott.

The pair were at the university with a poster depicting a child killed by abortion and a sign saying "sodomy is a sin." A video of the incident shows that at first Whatcott was asked to leave the campus by campus security, who were accompanied by police. Whatcott responded that he had won two court cases on freedom of speech. “I do believe I have a charter right to speak here," he said.

Whatcott said that they would have to remove him from campus, because in addition to his charter right, he said, “I believe I have a moral responsibility to share the Gospel with these students.” He added, “I believe this university would not be as rich as it could be if it did not allow me to stay here and speak.”

Just before he was arrested Whatcott said to the guard, “I respect you but I’m not going to obey that order because it’s unjust and it’s illegal.”

As he was warned that he was about to get arrested he said, “Okay, I’m always a peaceful guy.”

As the officer announced his arrest and cuffed him, Whatcott raised his voice slightly to say, “Students, this is wrong. Even those of you who might disagree with me, we are all less free because of this; everybody loses. There are not any winners.” Whatcott concluded, “Shame on this university for suppressing speech.”

LaBarbera, surrounded by police, can be heard on the video saying, “I would rather stay in solidarity with him,” referring to Whatcott. Then he too was arrested.

Read here

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US pro-family activist detained by Canadian customs for alleged violation of ‘hate’ law

April 13th, 2014 Jill Posted in Civil Liberty, Freedom Of Speech Comments Off

Peter LaBarberaBy Patrick B Craine, LifeSite News

A prominent U.S. pro-family activist was detained by the Canadian Border Services Agency Thursday for alleged violations of Canada’s “hate propaganda” law.

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, had flown into Regina International Airport to speak at the Saskatchewan Pro-Life Association provincial conference this weekend.

LaBarbera had been targeted by a makeshift group known as “Intolerance Free Weyburn,” which pressured the government to deny him access to the country. LaBarbera believes he was flagged by customs as a result.

LaBarbera provided LifeSiteNews with a formal document issued by CBSA agent Darren Banick that cites section 319(1) of Canada’s Criminal Code and says Banick believed LaBarbera "may commit acts which would be against the Criminal Code of Canada."

Section 319(1) of Canada’s Criminal Code bars “public incitement of hatred … against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.” Breaching the law carries a punishment of up to two years imprisonment.

He was allowed to spend the night in Saskatchewan and will appeal the decision to Banick’s supervisor, Penelope Ulmer, at a hearing today at noon Central Standard Time.

LaBarbera said the customs agent went through his luggage, his phone and laptop, and played a DVD of a speech he had given Wednesday. He then reviewed AFTAH’s website, pulled up the “about page,” and said, according to LaBarbera, “So you’re targeting an identifiable group of people based on sexual orientation.”

LaBarbera told LifeSiteNews that he was asked for details about the talk he was scheduled to give. He said the agent asked, for example, “What percentage of your talk is going to be about homosexuality versus life?” He said the agent seemed unconcerned by the pro-life aspect of his talk.

Read here

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Support Free Speech for Mozilla CEO

April 2nd, 2014 Jill Posted in Freedom Of Speech, Petitions, Religious Liberty Comments Off

Brendan Eich, the CEO of Mozilla, which created and maintains the Firefox web browser, is under fire for having donated $1000 to Proposition 8 in California. Prop 8 was against changing marriage to make homosexual unions equal to heterosexual unions.

Among many protests against Brendan's 'politics', the dating site okCupid is blocking visitors to its site using Firefox and asking them to ditch the Mozilla browser as a way of punishing Mozilla and Brandon for his views.

The champions of tolerance once again have turned into bullies to harass and punish all who disagree with their opinions.

okCupid claims that 8% of their customers are gay. Well, 52% of California voters supported Prop. 8.

Sign our petition in support of the free speech and conscience rights of the Mozilla CEO and everyone's right to free political action free of harm and harassment.

Read and sign petition here (Non-US residents can use the 'No State' option at the top of the drop-down list)

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Let everyone think what he likes and say what he thinks

April 2nd, 2014 Jill Posted in Freedom Of Speech, Religious Liberty Comments Off

By Brendan O'Neill, Free Speech Now!

Every man should think what he likes and say what he thinks.’ It is 350 years since Spinoza, the great Dutchman of the Enlightenment, wrote those simple but profound words. And yet every man (and woman) is still not at liberty to think what he or she likes, far less say it. It is for this reason that, today, spiked is kicking off a transatlantic liberty-loving online magazine and real-world campaign called Free Speech Now! – to put the case for unfettered freedom of thought and speech; to carry the Spinoza spirit into the modern age; to make the case anew for allowing everyone to say what he thinks, as honestly and frankly as he likes.

It is true that, unlike in Spinoza’s day, no one in the twenty-first century is dragged to ‘the scaffold’ and ‘put to death’ for saying out loud what lurks in his heart – at least not in the Western world. But right now, right here, in the apparently democratic West, people are being arrested, fined, shamed, censored, cut off, cast out of polite society, and even jailed for the supposed crime of thinking what they like and saying what they think. You might not be hanged by the neck anymore for speaking your mind, but you do risk being hung out to dry, by coppers, the courts, censorious Twittermobs and other self-elected guardians of the allegedly right way of thinking and correct way of speaking.

Ours is an age in which a pastor, in Sweden, can be sentenced to a month in jail for preaching to his own flock in his own church that homosexuality is a sin. In which British football fans can be arrested for referring to themselves as Yids. In which those who too stingingly criticise the Islamic ritual slaughter of animals can be convicted of committing a hate crime. In which Britain’s leading liberal writers and arts people can, sans shame, put their names to a letter calling for state regulation of the press, the very scourge their cultural forebears risked their heads fighting against. In which students in both Britain and America have become bizarrely ban-happy, censoring songs, newspapers and speakers that rile their minds. In which offence-taking has become the central organising principle of much of the political sphere, nurturing virtual gangs of the ostentatiously outraged who have successfully purged from public life articles, adverts and arguments that upset them – a modern-day version of what Spinoza called ‘quarrelsome mobs’, the ‘real disturbers of the peace’.

Read here

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Stanford, Marriage and Abortion Controversies, and the Mission of a University

March 19th, 2014 Jill Posted in Freedom Of Speech Comments Off

By Jennifer S Bryson, Public Discourse

Trying to silence others because one fears what they might say is no way to learn. And it is no way for a university to be a university.

Stanford University is once again facing controversy about freedom of speech on campus. Today, the issue is a student group, the Stanford Anscombe Society, which supports man-woman marriage and plans to hold a conference in early April. Students active in LGBTQ causes would like to prevent this conference from taking place.

Stanford has been through sharp controversy before; in the 1980s, for instance, students favoring legal abortion physically prevented a speaker hosted by Stanford Students for Life from speaking on campus. Back then the university’s response to this was a resounding affirmation of the university’s (unofficial) motto, “The winds of freedom blow” (“Die Luft der Freiheit weht”).

During the 1988-1989 academic year, when I was a senior at Stanford, I was involved in Stanford Students for Life. One evening, we brought pro-life activist Randall Terry to speak at the university.

On the evening of that event, Annenberg auditorium at Stanford was full. It was clear that a significant portion of those attending opposed Randall Terry and Stanford Students for Life. They were welcome to attend the event. Yet problems began when Terry tried to speak and opponents in the audience refused to become quiet. The heckling became progressively louder and more aggressive. After several minutes of this escalation, Terry told the audience that he would do something he normally does not do. He would forgo the talk he had planned to give and would instead make himself available for the entire event to answer questions from the audience.

Read here

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Everyone has the right to offend – unless they offend a liberal sacred cow

March 14th, 2014 Jill Posted in Freedom Of Speech Comments Off

By Cristina Odone, Telegraph

We must be free to offend one another, the head of the Supreme Court has said. Lord Neuberger warned against a "creeping liberal censoriousness" that infects Britain today. He is right. Just try this: mock a gay politician's campness or Muslims' burkhas. Try making a derogatory comment about the abortion lobby, or the transgender minority. The ensuing brouhaha will drown out your voice and in some cases lose you your job. Or, as happened to journalist Suzanne Moore, you'll have a Minister – one Lynne Featherstone, calling for you to be sacked.
On the other hand, say something about paedophile priests and misogynist vicars, and the whole liberal world smiles with you. Establishment Britain is ready to respect certain sensibilities, just not others. Muslims, because so many belong to an ethnic minority – or is it that they don't believe in turning the other cheek when they receive a slight? – get the velvet glove treatment. In his brilliant blog post yesterday, Dan Hodges revealed how the BBC censored a debate on gay Muslims.
The Beeb refuses to upset the Islamic community – yet this same corporation has happily paid for and indulged countless programmes and debates about Catholic paedophile priests.
Read here
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“Above all liberties”

March 14th, 2014 Jill Posted in Freedom Of Speech Comments Off

By David van Gend, MercatorNet

Free speech is at the heart of a self-governing society.

Four hundred years ago the poet John Milton appealed to the British Parliament not to enact laws that would prohibit the publication of certain opinions. Milton’s address ended with the declaration: “Give me the liberty to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties”.
Free speech, meaning free argument, is at the heart of a self-governing society. It should not be a partisan issue. As the greatest free-speech warrior of the West, Canadian journalist Mark Steyn, has said: “Free speech is not a left-right thing; it is a free-unfree thing”.
And yet the liberty to argue freely according to conscience is being constricted throughout the developed world in the name of a new and bogus “right not to be offended”. Steyn speaks from experience:

In Canada, I committed the crime of “offending” certain approved identity groups. And there is no defense to that: truth, facts, evidence are all irrelevant. If someone’s “offended”, that’s that: You’re guilty.

Thanks to Steyn’s magnificent push-back against the Canadian “human rights” establishment, the Canadian Parliament has now repealed the vilification law under which he was harassed.
In Australia that remains unfinished business. The federal government is committed to amending, but not repealing, our equivalent law under which journalist Andrew Bolt was convicted of offending another approved identity group. The question facing our redoubtable Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, is whether we can be half-pregnant on free speech. If section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 is amended so that it no longer allows legal action where somebody feels offended or insulted, that is fine. But if it still allows legal action where somebody feels humiliated or intimidated, nothing has been gained. The Aboriginal activists who felt offended by Andrew Bolt’s articles under the old 18C could just as well say they felt humiliated by his articles under the amended 18C, and off they go again to court.
Read here
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Gay marriage: a case study in conformism

March 2nd, 2014 Jill Posted in Freedom Of Speech, Gay Activism, Religious Liberty Comments Off

By Brendan O'Neill, Spiked

Anyone who values diversity of thought and tolerance of dissent should find the sweeping consensus on gay marriage terrifying.

I have been doing or writing about political stuff for 20 years, since I was 18 years old, during which time I have got behind some pretty unpopular campaigns and kicked against some stifling consensuses. But I have never encountered an issue like gay marriage, an issue in which the space for dissent has shrunk so rapidly, and in which the consensus is not only stifling but choking. This is the only issue on which, for criticising it from a liberal, secular perspective, I’ve been booed during an after-dinner speech and received death threats (‘If you’re dead, you can’t talk shit about gay marriage’). It’s the only issue on which both hard right-wingers and the wettest leftists have told me to STFU. It’s the only issue on which even friends have said, ‘Stop writing about it. It isn’t worth it.’

Many are commenting on the juggernaut-like rise to respectability of the gay marriage issue. Christopher Caldwell of the Weekly Standard says gay marriage has gone ‘from joke to dogma’ in a decade. Time magazine says there has been a ‘seismic social shift’ on gay marriage, which has been ‘as rapid and unpredictable as any turn in public opinion [in history]’. Another gay-marriage supporter says ‘the pace and scale at which acceptance of marriage equality has shifted is breathtaking’, which he puts down to the efforts of the warriors for ‘marriage equality’. There has been a ‘sea change’ in attitudes, commentators tell us, especially in political circles, where everyone who’s anyone (or who wants to be) now genuflects at the gay-marriage altar. Even Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, scourge of liberals everywhere, now accepts the idea of gay marriage, leading one observer to tell gay-marriage proponents: ‘Lay down your guns… the enemy has surrendered.’

How do we account for this extraordinary consensus, for what is tellingly referred to as the ‘surrender’ to gay marriage by just about everyone in public life? And is it a good thing, evidence that we had a heated debate on a new civil right and the civil rightsy side won? I don’t think so. I don’t think we can even call this a ‘consensus’, since that would imply the voluntaristic coming together of different elements in concord. It’s better described as conformism, the slow but sure sacrifice of critical thinking and dissenting opinion under pressure to accept that which has been defined as a good by the upper echelons of society: gay marriage. Indeed, the gay-marriage campaign provides a case study in conformism, a searing insight into how soft authoritarianism and peer pressure are applied in the modern age to sideline and eventually do away with any view considered overly judgmental, outdated, discriminatory, ‘phobic’, or otherwise beyond the pale.

Read here

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RTE apologises to Iona Institute for ‘homophobia’ remark

February 5th, 2014 Jill Posted in Freedom Of Speech, Gay Activism Comments Off

By David Quinn, Iona Institute

On the Saturday Night Show last weekend, presenter Brendan O’Connor read out an apology to Breda O’Brien, The Iona Institute, and writer and broadcaster John Waters after a guest a fortnight before had accused all of the aforementioned parties of being ‘homophobic’.

RTE has also agreed to pay damages to the injured parties.

The apology read: “On the Saturday Night Show on the 11th of January last, comments were made by a guest suggesting that the journalist and broadcaster John Waters, Breda O’Brien and some members of the Iona Institute are homophobic. These are not the views of RTÉ, and we would like to apologise for any upset or distress caused to the individuals named or identified. It is an important part of democratic debate that people must be able to hold dissenting views on controversial issues.”

We might add that it is also a very important part of democratic debate that individuals do not constantly have their motives and intentions called into question.

Accusations of ‘homophobia’, which are made with great regularity in the debate about same-sex marriage and adoption, are precisely an attempt to demonise and impute the worst of motives to those who believe that marriage is the sexual and emotional union of a man and a woman by definition, and that children deserve the love of both a mother and a father whenever possible.

The accusations are an attempt to bring the debate to an end.

It is similar to what sometimes happens in the abortion debate when extremists on both sides attribute nothing but the worst possible motives to their opponents.

It should be noted that no-one can ever point to a quote from The Iona Institute that can be any stretch be called genuinely abusive or ‘homophobic’.

The problem is that merely believing that marriage is the sexual union of a man and a woman, and that children deserve the love of both a mother and a father whenever possible is automatically deemed to be ‘homophobic’ by those wishing to close down this debate.

Read here

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Free speech reform coming into force today

February 1st, 2014 Jill Posted in Freedom Of Speech Comments Off

From The Christian Institute

We’re delighted to let you know that a free speech reform backed by The Christian Institute comes into force today.

Following our three-year campaign, police will no longer be able to use Section 5 of the Public Order Act to arrest people just because others may find their words or behaviour insulting.

Last January, the Government finally conceded defeat and agreed to strip out the word “insulting” from the scope of the law.

It has taken over a year for the reform to come into force because the Home Office has been working with the police to prepare them for the change.

Section 5 left the word “insulting” open to wide interpretation. One protestor was arrested for calling Scientology a “cult”, someone else arrested for saying “woof” to a dog and another for calling a police horse “gay”. Several Christians were also arrested for peaceful and lawful street preaching.

Christian couple Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang (pictured above) were put on trial simply because they had a religious discussion with a Muslim.

Our concerns were shared by many and in December 2012, the House of Lords overwhelmingly supported reforming Section 5, voting 150 to 54 in favour of an amendment to remove the word “insulting”, which the Government later accepted.

The change – which will affect England and Wales – would not have been possible without your help. Thank you for praying and contacting MPs.

We give thanks to God for the reform of Section 5 that comes into force today.

Yours in Christ,

Colin Hart

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Why I’m speaking up for Islam against the loudmouths who have hijacked it

January 30th, 2014 Jill Posted in Freedom Of Speech, Religious Liberty Comments Off

By Maajid Nawaz, Guardian

I tweeted a cartoon of Jesus and Mo. My aim was to carve out a space where Muslims can be heard without fearing the blasphemy charge

Muslims are not one homogenous tribe requiring representation through a Citizen Khan-like community leader. Neither are we still colonial subjects who must speak through our Brown Sahibs. We Muslims are free. Our prophet left no heir. We have never had a pope or a clergy. We are commanded to worship God alone, and for our sins we are answerable to no one but Him.
The doors of Muslim ijtihad (religious reasoning) have always remained open, and modern Islamist attempts to impose theocratic orthodoxy on us will therefore be resisted. Unity in faith is theocracy; unity in politics is fascism.
On 12 January I participated in a BBC debate on human rights and religious rights. Two students were wearing T-shirts depicting a stick figure of Jesus saying "Hi" to a stick figure called Mo, who replied: "How you doin'?" Some Muslims, having just argued for their own right to veil, took issue with the students. I argued that just as Muslim women have the right to veil, atheists have the right to wear these T-shirts.
I am acutely aware of the populist sentiment in Britain that derides Muslims who seek special treatment for their sensibilities, so I tweeted the bland image and stated that, as a Muslim, I did not feel threatened by it. My God is greater than that.
By the time the week was up I had received death threats, the police were involved, and a petition set up by some conservative Muslims to have me dismissed as the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn had gained 20,000 signatures. Then a counter-petition went up in my support, and many liberals jumped to my defence. In other words, all hell broke loose. So why did I do it?
Read here
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Maajid Nawaz must be free to offend Muslims – and Christians must be free to offend gays

January 28th, 2014 Jill Posted in Freedom Of Speech, Religious Liberty Comments Off

By Brendan O'Neill, Telegraph

Yesterday, two very striking things happened on the freedom-of-speech front. First, the campaign in defence of Maajid Nawaz, the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate who has been harassed by an online mob of Islamists for saying he did not think the Jesus and Mo cartoons were offensive, stepped up a gear. Numerous newspaper columnists, bloggers and tweeters have rallied to Mr Nawaz’s defence, and a petition calling for the Lib Dems to offer him their full support now has close to 7,000 signatures. And second, the High Court in London ordered an investigation into the banning of an allegedly homophobic advert from British buses by Transport for London (TfL) in 2012. The Court said the ban might have been unjust and said it is now time to “re-examine whether… the poster could be used”.
Let me guess: you’ve heard a lot more about the first case, about Mr Nawaz’s travails, than you have about the second – right? Certainly there’s been far more coverage of the liberal online uprising in defence of Mr Nawaz’s right to tweet the secularist, mickey-taking Jesus and Mo cartoons than there has been of the High Court’s green light for an investigation into the banning of an anti-gay poster by TfL. Which is weird, because these cases are actually very similar. In both, an army of offence-takers sought to scrub from public view something they found repulsive – whether a tweet about Jesus and Mo or a poster putting forward a Christian take on homosexuality – and in both it was casually assumed that the rights of the offended should take precedence over the freedom of everyone else to tweet, read, see and hear certain risqué (allegedly) ideas. But only one case – Mr Nawaz’s – has become a cause celebre among liberals who profess an attachment to freedom of speech. Why?
Read here
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A Bill to silence debate, curb dissent and inhibit democratic engagement

January 15th, 2014 Jill Posted in Civil Liberty, Freedom Of Speech Comments Off

From Cranmer

Today all freedom-loving democrats the length and breadth of the United Kingdom look to the House of Lords (once again) to defend our ancient liberties and the health of democracy against this increasingly authoritarian, censorious and coercive Government.

Last September His Grace raised concerns about the (niftily-named and immeasurably soporific) Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Bill. In short, a bill intended to promote transparency and ensure greater integrity in the democratic process may greatly restrict charities and other groups from speaking out on important matters of public interest. The Government denies this, insisting that charities are already exempt from party political campaigning. But lawyers, charities and a raft of respected organisations (IEA, TFA, CPS, TPA, PEN, BBW, ASI) take a contrary view. The Christian Institute has a helpful explanatory hub.

[...]  If (say) your church opposes (say) euthanasia, and you support a candidate who shares those views, your church will be deemed to have assisted that candidate and so be subject to financial regulation. If you publish views contra a pro-euthanasia candidate, you can rest assured that every phone call, flyer and coffee morning will be scrutinised, assessed and the costs totted up. That's okay, you may say: my church wouldn't spend anything like £20k on a political campaign. But nationally they may certainly do so. And if they fail to make the appropriate returns, the Archbishop risks being imprisoned.

But this £20k limit is swept aside by a particularly sinister clause. Under the proposals, any group that spends more than £9,750 on political activity in a single constituency will have to register with the Electoral Commission. It is not remotely clear what happens if your campaign is national or geared to a wider region (whether, for example, the anti-HS2 group will need to divide their budget by the number of constituencies along the route). Astonishingly, that limit includes staff costs, which is an expenditure specifically excluded for political parties. This could greatly affect the work of churches and other non-partisan voluntary groups which may have no direct involvement in an election but which happen to employ an administrator on £10k pa. Any 'substantial' agitation by such a group may constitute political lobbying.

Read here

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A win! Peers vote to protect free speech

January 8th, 2014 Jill Posted in Freedom Of Speech Comments Off

From The Christian Institute

I am delighted to say that the House of Lords has voted overwhelmingly for an amendment to the Anti-social Behaviour Bill to protect free speech.

Under clause 1 of the Bill government ministers were seeking to replace Anti-social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) with injunctions that would have been easier to obtain and required a much lower threshold of behaviour than ASBOs.

The Reform Clause 1 campaign called the proposed orders, known as Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNAs), a "threat to free speech".

Former Chief Constable Lord Dear tabled an amendment to replace the "nuisance or annoyance" threshold with the test of causing "harassment, alarm or distress".

Senior lawyers across political parties agreed that IPNAs were a real risk to free speech allowing courts to issue injunctions against those – including street preachers and buskers – who breached political correctness.

The test of causing "harassment, alarm or distress" would protect free speech while still allowing the courts to tackle anti-social behaviour.

Crossbench and Labour Peers, together with Tory rebels, voted against the Government and Lord Dear’s amendment was passed by a resounding 306 votes to 178.

The Government will now have to decide how to respond.

We would like to thank you for writing to Peers and voicing your support. Thank you also for your prayers. We give thanks to God for this remarkable victory.

Yours in Christ,

Colin Hart
The Christian Institute

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Free speech vote in next few hours – please pray

January 8th, 2014 Jill Posted in Civil Liberty, Freedom Of Speech Comments Off

From the Christian Institute

In the next few hours there will be a vital vote in the House of Lords on clause 1 of the Anti-social Behaviour Bill.

Under clause 1, Anti-social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) would be replaced with Injunctions to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance (IPNAs).
These injunctions will be easier to obtain and require a lower threshold of evidence.

You may remember our victory in seeking to remove the word "insulting" from Section 5 of the Public Order Act. The Government’s proposal in clause 1 would undermine the benefits of this reform.

Everyone is concerned about tackling genuine anti-social behaviour. But very senior lawyers from across the political parties agree that clause 1 is much too broad and is a real risk to free speech.

Former Chief Constable, Lord Dear, has tabled an amendment to replace the "nuisance and annoyance" threshold with the test of causing "harassment, alarm or distress". This would protect free speech while still allowing the courts to tackle anti-social behaviour.
The vote is expected to take place around 6pm today and we believe there is a lot of support within the House of Lords.

Please pray:

  • For Lord Dear as he leads on the amendment.
  • That Peers on the Government benches will be willing to vote against their whip.
  • That the vote today will be won.For the staff of The Christian Institute as we work alongside politicians and other organisations who agree with our concerns.

Yours in Christ,

Colin Hart
The Christian Institute 

Read also:  Outlawing "annoyance" is Cameron's crassest law from Cranmer

Lord Dear: IPNAs – a threat to our freedom and a waste of police time from Conservative Home


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The censuring of Evander Holyfield shows how intolerant modern Britain is becoming

January 6th, 2014 Jill Posted in Freedom Of Speech, Gay Activism, Religious Liberty Comments Off

by Brendan O'Neill, Telegraph

It’s official: you are no longer allowed to express old-fashioned religious views on British TV. You’ll certainly be censured for doing so, and will be warned never to repeat your wicked words.
That is the take-home lesson of the Evander Holyfield controversy. Holyfield, a former heavyweight boxing champ, is currently on Celebrity Big Brother on Channel 5. On Saturday night, in a chat with a fellow contestant, he expressed his Bible-informed belief that homosexuality is not natural. “The Bible lets you know there’s wrong, there’s right”, he said. And from his reading of the Bible he has deduced that homosexuality “ain’t normal”. He also expressed the view held by some Christian groups that homosexuality can be “fixed” through some kind of therapeutic intervention.
Are his views outdated? Absolutely. Are they wrong? I believe so, and many others will, too. Are they offensive? To some I’m sure they were. But should Holyfield, and anyone else who is invited on to TV precisely to express him or herself and to be “real”, be allowed to give voice to such moral beliefs? I think they should; Channel 5 takes a very different view.
Shortly after he made his comments, Holyfield was hauled into the diary room and told by “Big Brother” – that is, one of the producers of the show – that he had used “unacceptable language”. What they meant was that he had expressed an unacceptable idea. He had not used the q-word or the f-word to refer to gay people; he had simply expressed an idea, his inner belief that homosexuality is wrong. He was told that the expression of such views would not be tolerated. “You expressed the view that being gay was not normal and could be fixed”, said Big Brother. “While Big brother realises these are the view you hold, they are not the views held by many people in society, and expressing these views will be seen as offensive to many people.”
Read here
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Police issue new guidance on reform to ‘insult’ law

January 2nd, 2014 Jill Posted in Civil Liberty, Freedom Of Speech Comments Off

From The Christian Institute

Police officers will be told they are no longer able to arrest people just because others might find their words or behaviour “insulting”, in new guidance issued by the College of Policing.

Last year the Government agreed to remove the word “insulting” from Section 5 of the Public Order Act after the amendment was voted in by the House of Lords in December 2012.

The important free speech reform, backed by The Christian Institute, is to become law on 1 February and will be known as Section 57 of the Crime and Courts Act.
“When the amendment comes into force”, the new College of Policing guidance states, “words or behaviour that are merely ‘insulting’, or the displaying of writing, signs or other visible representations which are merely ‘insulting’, within the hearing of someone likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress, will no longer constitute a criminal offence under section 5(1).”

The campaign to change the law was spearheaded by the Reform Section 5 group, which united an unusual alliance including The Christian Institute, the National Secular Society, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, and other civil liberties groups concerned about free speech.

Read here

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Why what happens to the Robert Lopezes of the world actually matters to us all

January 1st, 2014 Jill Posted in Freedom Of Speech, Gay Activism, Religious Liberty Comments Off

Lisa Severine NollandOne of the most cowardly things ordinary people do is to shut their eyes to facts.  CS Lewis

Lisa Severine Nolland

The following is written in the aftermath of events pertaining to the Duck Dynasty, A&E and GLAAD.

In his ‘Life on GLAAD’s Blacklist’, US Professor Robert Lopez describes his fall from grace at the hands of the US-based gay rights organization, GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) to become a persona non grata professionally and socially. Conjure up images of religious excommunication or informal McCarthyism and you will get an idea of what he has endured since ‘coming out’ publicly against gay ‘marriage’ (he was raised by two lesbians and so speaks from that vantage point).

Old friends and even some family members took GLAAD's marching orders and have summarily cut me out of their lives. And when I mean cut me out, I mean we will never be in the same room again. One person very close to me, who works in the entertainment industry, was accosted at a dinner and told in no uncertain terms that if he didn't join in denouncing me, he'd have difficulty finding work. (1)

But what about the situation in Britain? British evangelical leaders are not losing work, friends or status because of their public views, and indeed, the state authorities they partner with on various community projects are only too willing to have their input (and help). They hold orthodox Christian views on sexual matters, though they do not talk about it much, and certainly never with the said authorities, reassuring themselves ’preaching the Gospel’ will sort things.

Location, Location, Location

I believe that Robert Lopez’s situation is illuminative of what happens when the Stonewalls of this world (GLAAD is an American equivalent) are publicly challenged by professionals inside ‘the system’. Though we have a few brave souls here (think of the Bulls, Lesley Pilkington, Gary McFarlane, Mike Davidson) that there are not more examples shows how successful sex activists have been in taking over and shutting down public debate.

That most British evangelical leaders are professionals outside ‘the system’ means they are inherently protected by dog collars, and buffering religious communities and organizations; they have the luxury of holding and affirming convictions which the rest of us are rapidly losing the right to hold.

Because the Stonewall agenda does not directly impact the church leadership team, professionals in otherwise good congregations receive little if any help responding to being force-fed its ideology. Nor is the reality of the fact that church youngsters (with few exceptions) are presently marinated in all things LGBT affirmative through education, the media and their peers.

Indeed, frequently professionals in ‘the system’ end up quietly colluding with Stonewall’s agenda. Where is the sense in being the Lone Martyr?

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The Left’s militant, proactive intolerance

December 21st, 2013 Jill Posted in Freedom Of Speech, Gay Activism, Religious Liberty Comments Off

By David Limbaugh, Human Events

I must admit I’ve never watched “Duck Dynasty,” but this brouhaha over A&E’s suspension of the show’s star, Phil Robertson, for his remarks on homosexual behavior in an interview with GQ has little to do with “gay” issues and everything to do with thought and speech control — and the left’s intolerance.

Robertson first expressed, in admittedly vulgar terms, his incredulity that some men find other men more attractive than women. Fine. Call him insensitive, but it’s hardly a debatable point that heterosexuals don’t quite grasp the allure of homosexuality.

But that doesn’t seem to be his offending statement. When he identified homosexual behavior as a sin, he might as well have robbed a bank on live television. But when he cited the New Testament book of 1st Corinthians as including homosexuality in a list of sins, he had past the point of no return. He’s outta there.

Read here

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