A gay Christian group is calling for the government to stop funding homophobic churches through public funds.
The reaction from the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement comes after demonstrators protested outside Parliament last week seeking a review of the incoming Equality Act claiming it discriminates against Christianity in the provision of goods and services.
A group of black pastors were among the protesters, the clergymen wrote a letter to the Daily Telegraph criticising the legislation, “The regulations force Christians in churches, businesses, charities and informal associations to accept and even promote the idea that homosexuality is equal to heterosexuality.
“For the sake of clarity, this is not what the Bible teaches and it is not what we believe to be the truth. In our view, these regulations are an affront to our freedom to be Christians.
“If the Government thinks that we will accept this law lying down, they are mistaken. This sort of Christophobia from the Government is no longer acceptable.”
But Reverend Richard Kirker, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement [LGCM] called the statements an embarrassment for the religion, “I am sorry to see leaders of many evangelical and fundamentalist black London Churches claiming our faith justifies discrimination against lesbian and gay people. When I lived in South Africa I heard many Christian Churches attempting to justify their support for the evil of apartheid (racial segregation, racism) based on their distorted view of Holy Scripture.
“How sad it is to see my fellow Christians attack the protection of lesbian and gay people’s rights to equal treatment before the law in the United Kingdom, especially in the receipt of goods and services. These brothers and sisters seem to want us to be treated as second class citizens. Just as black people were considered unequal to white people in apartheid South Africa.
“I can find no place in scripture where Jesus calls on his people to behave in this way, and I am ashamed for them.
“I can only try and apologise to British gay and lesbian people for the prejudice the pastors are seeking to impose and say that many, if not most Christians of all colours, denominations and sexualities do not share these people’s hurtful and harmful views.
“The lobbying of parliament, claiming that the government is promoting views that hinder the Christian message, is utterly misguided and dangerous. Nothing could be further from the truth; Jesus calls his disciples to embrace all as their brother and sister and to treat them with honour and respect. The government is pledged to wipe away centuries of homophobia and we are sure they will not be distracted from this course. Jesus is rejoicing that this ancient hatred falsely perpetuated in His name is being swept away.
“I would urge the Government to be very much more rigorous in ensuring none of the Churches represented by the pastors are provided with grants from public funds. It is clear none understand or accept the basic principles of equal opportunities, let alone being willing to adopt them. In these circumstances they have forfeited the right to financial assistance from tax payers.
“Subsidising homophobia is not in the public interest and should certainly not be encouraged in any way by the government.
“Finally it grieves me as a Christian Pastor that these fellow teachers of our faith are so ignorant of the evil of homophobia and the murder and violence that is done to lesbian and gay people in their own communities on a daily basis. They are surely blind and in that state they will only lead others to fall into the dark pit of ignorance.”
Some Christian groups have pushed for exemptions regarding churches and other religious organisations in the cases of faith schools.