Three church groups have been suspended from using a school in East London on Sunday mornings after leaflets referring to ‘homosexual offenders’ were put through the doors of local houses.
The Wanstead & Woodford Guardian reports that a ‘rogue parishioner’ is thought to be responsible for the leaflet, which reproduced 1 Corinthians 6:9 among other Bible verses while inviting residents to learn about forgiveness and salvation at the meetings at Wanstead High.
The version quoted, however, was the 1984 edition of the New International Version of the Bible which contains the phrase “homosexual offenders”.
In that edition, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 reads: “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
The current NIV refers to “the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men”.
How to correctly translate the Greek word ‘arsenokoitēs’ has troubled Biblical scholars for centuries.
Shown the leaflet for the Sunday meetings by the newspaper, the head-teacher of Wanstead High said any “groups showing any types of racist or homophobic attitudes should not be permitted in the school”.
The lettings agency which lets the school premises out at the weekends to the three church groups, Schools Plus, was informed.
James Woods, a spokesman for Schools Plus told the paper the material was “unacceptable” but that the groups in question were dying “any knowledge” of the leaflet.
He said: “We think it is possible the leaflet is being sent out by a rogue parishioner. But while we investigate the matter, all three groups will be suspended from using the school.”
The Wanstead & Woodford Guardian spoke to the East London International Church of Christ, one of the groups who use the school on Sunday mornings for their meetings.
Their spokesman the group would not use the 1984 phrase ‘homosexual offenders’. He added: “It is ill advised to put that sort of thing on a leaflet and we would certainly never do it.”