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‘Jesus Is Lord,’ You Say? See You In Court

This is potentially huge: [2]

The British government has refused to say whether telling people about the Christian faith could be a hate crime.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch, a UKIP peer, says when he raised a question on the issue on the House of Lords, the government failed to state clearly whether Christians cannot be prosecuted just for stating their beliefs.

“I said to the government ‘Will they confirm unequivocally that a Christian who says that Jesus is the only son of the one true God cannot be arrested for hate crime or any other offence, however much it may offend a Muslim or anyone of any other religion?’”

In response  [3]to the question, government whip Baroness Vere of Norbiton said: “My Lords, I am not going to comment on that last question from the noble Lord.” She added that the legal definition of “hate crime” has been the same for the past 10 years.

Yes, and that’s precisely the problem. Here are screenshots from a UK government document defining “hate crime”:

change_me

And:

Do you see the problem? Simply stating publicly that someone’s religious beliefs are incorrect can be construed as a hate crime, based on the perception by the alleged victim. If a statement is “perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s religion or received religion” (or sexual orientation), then the person making the statement can face charges.

In a separate interview, Lord Pearson said: [4]

Lord Person [sic] has urged for a discussion on the issue because he believes what constitutes a hate crime has not been clearly enshrined in law.

“It depends how much they feel hated, that’s what’s so stupid about it.

“What about free speech? That’s where I’m coming from. I just want to talk about it and I want the government to answer.”

If you stood in Trafalgar Square and read these texts aloud from the Bible:

Romans 1:24-27: Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 

John 14:6: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 

You could be brought up on hate crimes charges in the UK if a gay person, or gay rights supporter, was offended by what you said, or, in the second case, if a non-Christian felt victimized by your “prejudice” against non-Christian religions. Right?

Wrong, said Home Office Minister Lord Ahmed [5] when Lord Pearson brought this up in 2016:

Home Office minister Lord Ahmed replied stating that reading the Bible in public would never become a criminal offence. He said: “Reading texts from the Holy Bible in public or preaching the divinity of Christ is not a crime and never will be in this country.

I hope he’s right. I welcome correction by my UK readers, but I assume that there haven’t been many hate crime prosecutions of Christians for publicly stating ordinary Christian teaching, even the kind that stands to offend gays, Muslims, and others. But the law is sufficiently vague that it’s easy to see how this could happen, if the government wished to make it happen. In any case the Baroness Vere’s flippant response — remember, she represents a Tory government — is hardly reassuring.

It is likely the case that she took the question as trolling, based on the fact that Lord Pearson asked the same kind of question last year, and received a clear response from Lord Ahmed. That said, it is worrying that the “hate crime” law is so broad in the UK that it easily could be applied against Christians in the way Lord Pearson said it could be. And for that matter, it could be applied against Muslims, or any other person exercising freedom of speech.

Read the whole thing. [2]

Again, I invite clarification and correction from UK readers if I’m not understanding anything.

UPDATE: Reader James Nicola comes through:

I’m afraid that you are misunderstanding the situation – a lot of the UK does as well, having been het up by rags like the Daily Mail.

The confusion is caused by the failure to understand the difference between incidents and crimes in police terms.

To the police, basically anything that gets reported to them is classified as an incident. If, for instance, someone calls the police to report they saw a man breaking into a house, but when the police get there they discover that this was the owner breaking a window and climbing in because they’d forgot their keys – this would *still* be recorded as an incident, despite the fact that nothing illegal had taken place. Nobody is punished for an incident; no action is taken; it’s simply a record that something happened which was reported to the police.

A hate incident is simply an incident which someone reported and noted that they thought it was caused by hatred for one of the groups which are protected under UK law. Keeping the previous example – if the house owner in question was black, and came down to the police station the next day to complain the report had only been made because they were black – this would be recorded as a hate incident.

Again, though, the important thing is that all the recording of an incident means is that something has been reported to the police; all the recording of a hate incident means is that something has been reported to the police which the person reporting it said they thought was caused by hatred for one of the protected groups. Unless the incident is then upgraded to a crime nothing further happens.

An incident is only upgraded to a crime when the police believe and have evidence that something has been done which is actually against the law (there are some subtleties to this but nothing relevant). This is not affected by whether it’s considered to be caused by hatred or not; that comes later. If they believe it to be a crime they then have the usual discretion to warn/caution (which the person accused can accept or reject) or take proceedings in the criminal court. Only when it has either been accepted by the accused that they committed a crime or they’ve been convicted in court is the question of whether the crime was motivated by hate relevant. If the court believes that it was, then a harsher punishment can be imposed than might otherwise be.

As such, the only way someone can be convicted and punished for a ‘hate crime’ is if they did something which would ALREADY be illegal, no matter what this was motivated by. As simply reading out the Bible aloud in public is not illegal, nobody can be convicted for doing so, and so no one is going to receive an extra punishment for this being motivated by hatred, no matter what anybody reporting it says or believes. If some such idiot did so report it it would simply be recorded as a hate incident – no crime – and nothing would happen to anyone.

It is possible that a particular police officer or force might make a mistake, but these are the rules, and if a mistake is made there are plenty of ways to complain and have it put right.

It is also possible that some obnoxious person might walk into – say – a gathering of gay men who had come together to discuss their applications to adopt children, and start reading Leviticus out loudly, refuse to leave and disrupt the meeting so it couldn’t continue. That person could and, in my opinion, should, be convicted of a hate crime – but the underlying crime would not be reading the Bible, it would be trespass, harassment, and probably a couple of other things depending on the facts of the case. If you feel like reading the Bible out loud in Trafalgar Square, provided you’re not committing any other crime while you read it out loud, all that’s going to happen to you is that you’re going to get some mildly strange looks – and probably not that many of those; the tourists won’t understand and the Londoners won’t care.

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36 Comments To "‘Jesus Is Lord,’ You Say? See You In Court"

#1 Comment By Aidan On December 20, 2017 @ 12:41 pm

As a UK reader I can assure you that nobody here will ever be prosecuted for proclaiming the divinity of Christ and when we are we’ll deserve it.

#2 Comment By MH – Secular Misanthropist On December 20, 2017 @ 1:33 pm

A few thoughts.

The British really need someone like the first amendment.

Crimes based upon subjective mental states seem like a sketchy concept.

This also allows people to weaponize offense which is not something society needs right now.

This would likely put the kibosh on handing it Jack Chick tracts, and I love collecting them for the pure crazy.

#3 Comment By Elijah On December 20, 2017 @ 1:39 pm

“He [Lord Ahmed] said: “Reading texts from the Holy Bible in public or preaching the divinity of Christ is not a crime and never will be in this country.””

Without casting aspersions on Lord Ahmed, and as many others have noted, the law leaves open the possibility that one could indeed be arrested for reading certain Bible texts aloud. The fact that he “says so” has no bearing whatsoever on what a judge and jury in the UK might do.

It is not reassuring to note that people have been investigated and threatened with prosecution for criticizing Islam or Muslims who have been engaged in criminal activity, by spoken and written words.

#4 Comment By EngineerScotty On December 20, 2017 @ 1:50 pm

This interpretation of the law is stupid (and again, thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster for the First Amendment), but surely a Muslim proclaiming Jesus to be a prophet of God but denying His divinity (and the Resurrection) would be every bit as illegal, if this interpretation were to hold?

#5 Comment By Francis J. Beckwith On December 20, 2017 @ 1:58 pm

If what you say is true, this is as much an assault on reason as it is on faith. Think about it. The government is claiming by this policy that there is an exclusively correct way think about and speak of one’s religious beliefs, “No one is actually Lord, including Jesus.” On the other hand, the traditional Christian claims that there is an exclusively correct way to think about and speak of one’s religious beliefs, “No one, except Jesus, is actually Lord.” Each position is exclusivist, though those affirming the former act as if their position is not.

It’s a tactic I dubbed years ago as the “passive aggressive tyranny trick.” Here’s how I define it:

The trick is this: those who claim to be open and tolerant to differing points of view seem hell bent on using the levers of power to exclude any contrary perspectives within their communities.

In virtually every case, the trick occurs when the proponent of exclusion uses the language of passivity by claiming to be offering a celebration of “diversity” while at the same putting forth an aggressively narrow agenda and implying that those who disagree are not only harmful, but committing injustice.

You can read more here: [6]

#6 Comment By James Nicola On December 20, 2017 @ 2:11 pm

Rod,

I’m afraid that you are misunderstanding the situation – a lot of the UK does as well, having been het up by rags like the Daily Mail.

The confusion is caused by the failure to understand the difference between incidents and crimes in police terms.

To the police, basically anything that gets reported to them is classified as an incident. If, for instance, someone calls the police to report they saw a man breaking into a house, but when the police get there they discover that this was the owner breaking a window and climbing in because they’d forgot their keys – this would *still* be recorded as an incident, despite the fact that nothing illegal had taken place. Nobody is punished for an incident; no action is taken; it’s simply a record that something happened which was reported to the police.

A hate incident is simply an incident which someone reported and noted that they thought it was caused by hatred for one of the groups which are protected under UK law. Keeping the previous example – if the house owner in question was black, and came down to the police station the next day to complain the report had only been made because they were black – this would be recorded as a hate incident.

Again, though, the important thing is that all the recording of an incident means is that something has been reported to the police; all the recording of a hate incident means is that something has been reported to the police which the person reporting it said they thought was caused by hatred for one of the protected groups. Unless the incident is then upgraded to a crime nothing further happens.

An incident is only upgraded to a crime when the police believe and have evidence that something has been done which is actually against the law (there are some subtleties to this but nothing relevant). This is not affected by whether it’s considered to be caused by hatred or not; that comes later. If they believe it to be a crime they then have the usual discretion to warn/caution (which the person accused can accept or reject) or take proceedings in the criminal court. Only when it has either been accepted by the accused that they committed a crime or they’ve been convicted in court is the question of whether the crime was motivated by hate relevant. If the court believes that it was, then a harsher punishment can be imposed than might otherwise be.

As such, the only way someone can be convicted and punished for a ‘hate crime’ is if they did something which would ALREADY be illegal, no matter what this was motivated by. As simply reading out the Bible aloud in public is not illegal, nobody can be convicted for doing so, and so no one is going to receive an extra punishment for this being motivated by hatred, no matter what anybody reporting it says or believes. If some such idiot did so report it it would simply be recorded as a hate incident – no crime – and nothing would happen to anyone.

It is possible that a particular police officer or force might make a mistake, but these are the rules, and if a mistake is made there are plenty of ways to complain and have it put right.

It is also possible that some obnoxious person might walk into – say – a gathering of gay men who had come together to discuss their applications to adopt children, and start reading Leviticus out loudly, refuse to leave and disrupt the meeting so it couldn’t continue. That person could and, in my opinion, should, be convicted of a hate crime – but the underlying crime would not be reading the Bible, it would be trespass, harassment, and probably a couple of other things depending on the facts of the case. If you feel like reading the Bible out loud in Trafalgar Square, provided you’re not committing any other crime while you read it out loud, all that’s going to happen to you is that you’re going to get some mildly strange looks – and probably not that many of those; the tourists won’t understand and the Londoners won’t care.

Best wishes,

James Nicola

#7 Comment By An Ockhamist On December 20, 2017 @ 2:17 pm

I’m no lawyer, let alone a British one, but I would assume that the “any criminal offense which is…” clause in the definition means that a necessary condition for an act to qualify as a hate crime is that it already be criminalized. So a given assault or vandalism can be a hate crime because assault and vandalism are already a criminal offense, etc. If that reading is correct, then proselytizing is not a hate crime unless it is already illegal.

I presume the Baroness’s “I am not going to answer that question” quote is not evasion, but rather a refusal to dignify the question with response.

#8 Comment By Ralph Sidway On December 20, 2017 @ 2:20 pm

Rod, I would suggest that Lord Pearson’s concern is valid, based on the increased frequency of anti-Christian/anti-free speech ‘incidents’ in recent years. Some examples:

[7]

[8]

[9]

[10]

UK cinemas ban CoE ad featuring the Lord’s Prayer, claims it could cause offense:
[11]

[12]

[13]

[14]

[15]

In the below case, a Church of England spokesman has suggested parents should not have the right to withdraw their children from religion ed classes on Islam; such a move might very well result in parents defending their Christian faith, and thereby being open to hate crime charges for rejecting a pro-Islam law:

[16]

In another case, UK child care authorities “forced (a 5-year old Christian girl) to live with a fundamentalist Muslim family,” rather than “allow her to stay with her grandmother”:

[17]

Another reason all this is so important is because it can impact public safety and national security. A recent U.K. Govt study determined that ordinary, ‘moderate’ Mullins are funding Jihad terrorism to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds per year.

[18]

This article discusses how “the former head of Britain’s Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Trevor Phillips, has admitted he “got almost everything wrong” on Muslim immigration in a damning new report on integration, segregation, and how the followers of Islam are creating ‘nations within nations’ in the West”:
[19]

Canada’s recently passed anti-Islamophobia law will reverberate through the British Commonwealth of Nations:
[20]

In most of the above, I posted the link to the original news story. In others, I posted the link from various blogs and organizations which report on Islam, due to the additional context and links provided in those posts.

Thank you,
Ralph S.
facingislam.org

#9 Comment By David44 On December 20, 2017 @ 2:22 pm

I’m not a lawyer, nor do I live in the UK, but from what you print above I think you may be confusing “hate crimes” with “hate incidents”. According to the screen-shots, a “hate crime” is a CRIMINAL OFFENCE that is (deemed by the victim to be) motivated by prejudice. A “hate incident” is a non-criminal offence that is (deemed by the victim to be) motivated by prejudice.

Since reading the Bible in public, or stating Christian teaching, is not criminal, it can never be a “hate crime”. It could indeed be a “hate incident”, if it were perceived as such by someone who heard it; but (as I understand from a quick search on the Internet – corrections from UK readers welcome) “hate incidents” cannot be prosecuted as criminal offences, although the police are legally required to keep a record of them and report the statistics related to them.

As I say, that’s my inext

#10 Comment By Robert E. On December 20, 2017 @ 2:24 pm

Not a UK reader, but this is a helpful guide to the difference between “hate incident” and “hate crime”.

[21]

So what appears to be going on here is that the wording there is a separation between what we’d consider to be civil liability or tort law, and criminal law, in dealing with hate. That is important, because it seems to me there is an element of law that needs to be applied before the hate aspect comes into play (You’d have to be doing something worthy of being sued, or a criminal act. “Non-crime incident” in this case doesn’t mean everything that isn’t a crime).

There is a certain strangeness though with how the law interacts with an element we’d normally assume is important in tort law here in the states though, which is foreseeability. Putting the burden on how the victim perceives the incident rather than say, a reasonable person standard, can make it really arbitrary, because there is no way to foresee how any person will take anything. And that element might play into what constitutes a “verbal abuse” incident in the first place if all of a sudden the new standard is no longer what a reasonable person would consider a verbal abuse, but instead just how the victim felt about the incident. That does seem pernicious, but it seems pernicious in a “really bad law for everyone” sense rather than a specific “Christian religious freedom is being denied” sense. Though it certainly could have an effect on a Christian offering a contextless quote of some Biblical clobber verse, upgrading what they are saying to verbal abuse based on whatever their audience happens to feel about what they said. But it would still be just a hate incident rather than a hate crime. So I don’t think you are entirely off the mark Rod.

It certainly seems like all of this could make these laws function as a secularized version of a blasphemy law, which are also really bad laws (That the Orthodox Church in many countries as well as many Muslims are super supportive of). I imagine if that comparison was drawn, the UK public would probably be less supportive of this kind of law.

#11 Comment By oakinhouston On December 20, 2017 @ 2:28 pm

Preaching the divinity of Christ is exactly the same as preaching that Christ is not divine at all, a belief shared by Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Shintoists, Taoists, etc.

Would Lord Pearson consider confirming unequivocally that he will oppose persecuting anyone that denied publicly preached the denial of the divinity of Christ, no matter how much that preaching would offend Christians? (*)

The law as written is value neutral. It both protects Muslims and Christians the same, or protects neither. Your first sentence could have been written: “The British government has refused to say whether telling people about the Muslim faith could be a hate crime.” and be as correct.

(*) Given his political affiliation (UKIP), I’m betting this is just concern trolling about how poor British Christians are discriminated in favor of the hordes of (expletive deleted) foreigners.

#12 Comment By Derek On December 20, 2017 @ 3:00 pm

Hello???

This has been the goal of the left all along once the free speech debate over abortion really started (and excellerated with gay marriage etc).

Traditional Christianity must be silenced because people who don’t believe/reject feel bad when challenged with the Gospel (ie King Herod/St. John the Baptist).

Muslims are a convenient cover but the ends are the same: war on the speech of those spreading the Good News.

The devil never rests…but you know that…

Merry Christmas!

#13 Comment By Stephen Walton On December 20, 2017 @ 3:04 pm

As usual, Carl Trueman is good value on this: [22]

#14 Comment By Elijah On December 20, 2017 @ 3:35 pm

@ James Nicola – so when the police respond to an “incident” of potential hate speech by visiting someone and asking precisely what they said and how they said it, but don’t arrest that person as having committed a “crime” what, exactly, do you suppose the effect is on speech generally?

I would imagine the effect is to chill free speech generally.

I’m afraid your explanation does little to allay our fears.

#15 Comment By John On December 20, 2017 @ 3:52 pm

Rod I’m aware of just one actual prosecution that might fit your description. Funnily enough it was not brought under this law but under the Communications Act. The situation was that Pastor James McDonnell in Belfast, Northern Ireland preached a sermon in his own church in which he made comments about Islam that were traditional in their theology (i.e. he said Islamic doctrine is wrong) but also quite harsh in their tone. It got some publicity – he has a bit of a profile – and that publicity resulted in the Northern Ireland prosecutors going through the sermons that his church uploaded onto their website (like many churches do). They found some comments they didn’t like and prosecuted him for “improper use of a public electronic communications network” and “causing a grossly offensive message to be sent by means of a public electronic communications network.” Neither charge could have been brought if the sermon wasn’t put online. The trial was a farce – most of the case was dropped on the eve of the trial, but they still spend 3 days in court and acquitted him. [23]

Obviously this is the last thing that anyone thought would happen when the Communications Act was passed in 2003. I think what this shows is that when the culture is against you it doesn’t matter what the law is. Between them the prosecutors and the judges will find a way to stop things that they think are wrong. If they think standard Christian doctrine is beyond the pale then they will find a way to punish those who teach it, even those who teach it within the walls of the church.

In addition there is the little Baptist Church in Norfolk who put a poster up with the text “If you think there is no God you better be right!!”. It even had a few flames at the bottom. A 20 year old passer by complained to the police about it. The police spoke to the church, who then took it down. I would have loved to have seen it play out if they chose not to take it down. The complaint seems completely frivolous and how it was not met with “stop wasting police time and resources, son” I don’t know. Read about it here – [24]

#16 Comment By bob On December 20, 2017 @ 4:24 pm

Ever since the Tudor Taliban started rearranging church architecture and belief. Happy 500th, church of england!

#17 Comment By Tom S. On December 20, 2017 @ 5:33 pm

A good start would be not to consider the Daily Mail a reliable source for much, with the corollary being the more sensational the headline is, the less likely it is to be true.

#18 Comment By Ralph Sidway On December 20, 2017 @ 7:01 pm

Thank you, John, for posting a very full description with link on the trial of Pastor James McDonnell in Belfast, Northern Ireland. I only provided a link to a single story on his case above, but you are so right in the implications, as you said:

“…what this shows is that when the culture is against you it doesn’t matter what the law is. Between them the prosecutors and the judges will find a way to stop things that they think are wrong. If they think standard Christian doctrine is beyond the pale then they will find a way to punish those who teach it, even those who teach it within the walls of the church.”

#19 Comment By Erin M. On December 20, 2017 @ 7:16 pm

Rod, please stop feeding red meat to paranoiacs like Derek above. This is such a fevered interpretation, easily cleared up by a number of your readers, I’m surprised you didn’t check this out with someone in a better position to interpret it before publishing.

#20 Comment By Thrice A Viking On December 20, 2017 @ 7:48 pm

Engineer Scotty, I don’t believe that the Muslim denying Christ’s divinity would be treated the same as the Christian denying Mohammad’s status as the Seal of the Prophets. From all I’ve read, Islam is treated with kid gloves there, while Christianity is most decidedly not. And “Islamophobia” constitutes anything a Muslim doesn’t want to hear or read.

#21 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 20, 2017 @ 9:21 pm

James Nicola’s clarification is sensible and welcome.

I think what this shows is that when the culture is against you it doesn’t matter what the law is. Between them the prosecutors and the judges will find a way to stop things that they think are wrong.

Except McDonnell was acquitted, right?

#22 Comment By p On December 20, 2017 @ 9:41 pm

Nothing has happened so far as I can tell, all I’m hearing is what maybe could happen (or maybe not). What is this post supposed to be about?

#23 Comment By John On December 21, 2017 @ 3:36 am

Yes Siariys McDonnell was acquitted but the process is the punishment. McConnell (not McDonnell, my mistake) was made to go through the stress, hassle, publicity and expense of a three day trial, and the court ended up finding that what he said was offensive but did not reach all the way up to grossly offensive which is what it needed to for a conviction. When 95% of the prosecution case collapsed at the start of the trial the defence made application to have the whole thing dismissed, but the court said no. In my opinion going ahead was to punish McConnell with the process for his gross political incorrectness.

#24 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On December 21, 2017 @ 4:16 am

I don’t share the “nothing to see there” comments of some readers.
I went through the site James E. has mentioned, and it looks like the Malicious Communications Act and the Public Order Act give ample opportunities to the police and courts who are after persecuting Christians.
Moreover, any law defining a crime by the perception of the allegedly offended person rather than by objective criteria is a legal barbarianism, as it makes the law entirely arbitrary.

#25 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On December 21, 2017 @ 9:10 am

Are Erin M and Erin Manning two different people? They sound different, but worth checking just to be sure.

From all I’ve read, Islam is treated with kid gloves there, while Christianity is most decidedly not. And “Islamophobia” constitutes anything a Muslim doesn’t want to hear or read.

Many Muslims are used to a culture where that is the law — as it was for Christians in much of medieval Europe. It takes both a certain degree of courage to confront those willing to be violent, and a certain compassion to carefully introduce a new concept (nonestablishment of religion) to people for whom it genuinely does not compute. Neither of which applies to all Muslims, but to significant numbers, which somewhat but not entirely overlap.

Liberals have neither courage nor compassion, although they like to flatter themselves that they have both.

What is this post supposed to be about?

Fear.

#26 Comment By sb On December 21, 2017 @ 9:15 am

Despite James Nicola’s deft (and correct) explanation of the distinction between hate crime and hate incident, reality is that people are being harassed out of free speech in Britain’s streets and squares, as Ralph S outlined.

Trump linked to a tweet by Britain First’s co-leader Jayda Fransen, who was arrested and is being prosecuted for ‘hate speech’ for criticising Islam (frankly, her Belfast speech was also anti-Catholic).

But most Christians roll over and self-censor. Like the British Christian adoption agencies that just closed down rather than adopt kids to gay couples. They could have just continued adoptions, and left it to UK police to prosecute them (and thus highlight the liberal regime as the party at fault)…

This is actually happening to people in UK, but nobody prosecutes Muslims who march in the streets with posters claiming Islam will ‘dominate the world’.

Liberals apply different rules to their Islamic allies.

God help us all!

#27 Comment By Leslie Fain On December 21, 2017 @ 12:01 pm

The Becket Law group gave this university it’s Ebenezer Award:

[25]

#28 Comment By EngineerScotty On December 21, 2017 @ 12:04 pm

Engineer Scotty, I don’t believe that the Muslim denying Christ’s divinity would be treated the same as the Christian denying Mohammad’s status as the Seal of the Prophets. From all I’ve read, Islam is treated with kid gloves there, while Christianity is most decidedly not. And “Islamophobia” constitutes anything a Muslim doesn’t want to hear or read.

The main problem–as many people familiar with UK law have noted–is that the premise of the article (i.e. that the authorities are censoring or punishing Christian witness that Muslims find offensive), is–as the Brits like to put it–utter bollocks. It’s not happening. Someone may call the bobbies and claim that something someone said was “hateful” and it gets logged in the books as an “incident”, but that’s it.

The wider problem, of course, is that there is a long history of such “misunderstandings” being hyped in the right-wing media, as evidence of Oncoming Christian Oppression. Many stories have appeared in this space proclaiming that someone in an official position is being mean to Christians–that evaporate on scrutiny, for various reasons.

The other part of this that is still puzzling–why would British politicians be so solicitious of Muslims? They aren’t a significant electoral coalition, either here or there. There seems to be a longstanding belief in some circles that “liberals” and/or the “left” despise Christians so much that they will readily make common cause with Muslims, despite traditionalist Islam being every bit as hostile to liberal values as traditionalist Christianity, if not more so. But that theory is hogwash to begin with–and last I checked, the UK is being run by the Tories, and has been for some time. Hardly a left-wing party.

#29 Comment By EngineerScotty On December 21, 2017 @ 1:29 pm

Are Erin M and Erin Manning two different people? They sound different, but worth checking just to be sure.

Yes; “Erin M” is IIRC an atheist from out here in Orygun and a relative newcomer; you know Erin Manning quite well.

Interestingly enough, I have a friend who is an atheist from Oregon whose first name is Erin and last initial is M; but the Erin M. who posts here is not her (my friend has never posted here).

#30 Comment By EngineerScotty On December 21, 2017 @ 1:33 pm

I don’t share the “nothing to see there” comments of some readers.
I went through the site James E. has mentioned, and it looks like the Malicious Communications Act and the Public Order Act give ample opportunities to the police and courts who are after persecuting Christians.

The problem is that poorly-written or ambiguous laws can give ample opportunities to the authorities to harass anyone. If anti-Christian authorities could use this law to punish Christians, then pro-Christian authorities could use the same law to publish Muslims or gay-rights activists.

#31 Comment By Hector_St_Clare On December 21, 2017 @ 8:34 pm

The other part of this that is still puzzling–why would British politicians be so solicitious of Muslims? They aren’t a significant electoral coalition, either here or there. There seems to be a longstanding belief in some circles that “liberals” and/or the “left” despise Christians so much that they will readily make common cause with Muslims, despite traditionalist Islam being every bit as hostile to liberal values as traditionalist Christianity, if not more so

This is a really silly remark: “I can’t see any rational reason for X to do Y, therefore it could never happen!” People do unreasonable things all the time, for ideological reasons.

In this case, we don’t have to conjure up theories about why European social democrats might want to suppress criticism of Islam, we have plenty of evidence that they’re actually doing so. Denmark, for example, just got rid of its blasphemy law earlier this year, and the Social Democrats opposed the legalization of blasphemy. Not specifically because of islam, but because they’re solicitous of members of religious communities who might have their feelings hurt. (This isn’t especially a criticism on the Social Democrats- for a social democratic party they’re actually really good on immigration issues- it’s a simple statement that you don’t have to go far to see examples of social democrats and liberals being very uncomfortable by criticism of non-majority religions).

#32 Comment By Rombald On December 21, 2017 @ 9:08 pm

Scotty: “last I checked, the UK is being run by the Tories, and has been for some time.”

I think the Tories are best described as economically centre-right, and socially liberal-left.

They are very hostile to people such as Peter Hitchens, a more trad UK conservative, who is economically centre-left, and socially far-right. Merely noting that the UK has a Tory govt. doesn’t necessarily militate against the claims made.

#33 Comment By Giuseppe Scalas On December 22, 2017 @ 7:14 am

EngineerScotty

<iThe problem is that poorly-written or ambiguous laws can give ample opportunities to the authorities to harass anyone. If anti-Christian authorities could use this law to punish Christians, then pro-Christian authorities could use the same law to publish Muslims or gay-rights activists.

Do I disagree? Those laws suit the proclivities of those who want to hunt the witch of the day.
It’s basically law sanctioned mob mentality.

#34 Comment By EngineerScotty On December 22, 2017 @ 4:40 pm

I think the Tories are best described as economically centre-right, and socially liberal-left.

Economically center-right, certainly.

Socially–they seem to be “whatever will win elections”. Like the GOP has long been, they are first and foremost a party interested in defending the interests of capital; and will use whatever cultural issues necessary to assemble a winning coalition.

Differences between the US and UK:

* The existence of the Lib Dems in the UK, which have been historically the repository for what are now often called “neoliberals”, and have fallen on hard times of late.

* UKIP. The US political system generally doesn’t support more than two political parties, so the equivalent faction in US politics (nativists who aren’t leftists, but who aren’t wedded to right-wing economics and may support limited social democratic politics, at least for their own tribe) has been slogging it out with the economic right for the soul of the GOP. They got their man in office (Trump), but he’s been busy selling them out to the capitalist wing. But that’s nothing new. In the UK, many of these folks went to UKIP for a while (and formerly Labour, just as many of these were once Democrats here), but UKIP–having gotten Brexit passed–seems to have been co-opted by the Tories.

They are very hostile to people such as Peter Hitchens, a more trad UK conservative, who is economically centre-left, and socially far-right. Merely noting that the UK has a Tory govt. doesn’t necessarily militate against the claims made.

But what if Hitchens were a creature of the center-right?

As noted above, the Tories–now that they have shifted (officially) from a nominally pro-Europe stance to a pro-Brexit stance, and entered into a confidence-and-supply agreement with the stanchly right-wing DUP in order to form a government. Much of the Britain’s cultural left, disgusted of late with the Tories, has moved over to a reinvigorated Labour.

#35 Comment By Potato On December 23, 2017 @ 9:12 am

“Wait wait something might happen!”

“But nothing did happen.”

“But it might!

“A sober legal analysis says it won’t, at least not under the law you are quoting.”

“I’m sure it might, in fact, it’s almost certain that it will!. I read it in the National Enquirer, right next to the story by a woman who had a baby by a space alien who looked exactly like Elvis! That proves it!”

#36 Comment By Thrice A Viking On December 24, 2017 @ 5:16 am

Scotty, the internet ate my original reply to you. But Hector gave a good, concise rebuttal to your point, and Rombald and Giuseppe did in more roundabout ways. I would only add a couple of things. One is that Sweden refuses to release statistics on the percentage of crimes committed by Muslims, for fear that it will create a backlash. (You think? Although NOT publishing them may make many think they’re higher than they actually are.)

The other is from the UK itself. It’s difficult for me to visualize a Rotherham taking place without much if any punishment for the guilty unless the police were told to be “solicitous” of Islam by politicians at some level by some means. Can you think of another reason, Scotty?

It’s early in the Eve now, so Merry Christmas to all its celebrants here!