May 2007 – Christians arrested merely for handing out pamphlets which call homosexuality a sin? Postal workers refusing to deliver mail they deem to be “homophobic?” A pastor forced to pay for police protection after gay activists threatened to picket a church event?
What ever happened to free speech? More and more, in the U.S., Canada and Europe, homosexual activists and their straight sympathizers are trying to ensure that the only speech that’s tolerated is the pro-gay kind.
In Oakland, California, for example, two city employees were threatened with termination simply because they announced the start of an informal employee group to create “a forum for people of faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day with respect for the natural family, marriage, and family values.”
Regina Rederford and fellow city employee Robin Christy posted the announcement after a general e-mail to city employees publicizing the formation of a pro-homosexual employee association.
But in a world where one view is promoted and another condemned, Rederford and Christy were told by city officials that the flyer announcing the forum was “homophobic speech” and promoted “sexual-orientation-based harassment,” even though homosexuality was never specifically mentioned.
Amazingly, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the city policy.
This sort of heavy-handedness, of course, has been a regular feature of the culture war – what’s left of it anyway – in Canada and Europe.
In the United Kingdom, for example, Stephen Green was an unwilling recipient of pro-homosexual oppression this fall. The national director of the evangelical group Christian Voice, Green was at a gay pride event distributing leaflets which, according to LifeSite.net, merely contained Bible passages opposed to homosexuality. When told by police to stop handing them out, Green refused, and was arrested.
The police admitted to the press that Green’s behavior was neither aggressive nor violent, but instead explained to the Daily Mail (London) that Green was arrested because “the leaflet contained Biblical quotes about homosexuality.”
The resulting public outcry was probably instrumental in all charges being dropped, but the incident was hardly the first time opposition to homosexuality drew the interest of police. The article in the Daily Mail cited three other recent incidents involving investigations centering on religious dissent against the approval of homosexuality.
‘Hurtful’ words not allowed
England is hardly alone, as the campaign to exterminate the free speech rights of the opposition is unfolding virtually everywhere. In France, for example, the mayor of a French town was fined almost $4,000 merely for saying that homosexuality was “inferior” to heterosexuality.
In Scotland the pressure to conform manifested itself in another way. The National Health Service issued a new policy document for hospital workers titled Fair For All – The Wider Challenge: Good LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) Practice in the NHS. The new policy requirements, the document said, were intended to combat “homophobia,” including “homophobic language,” which was said to be “unacceptable” and “unlawful.”
How did Fair For All define such “homophobic language?” Staffers were told to “avoid offending gay patients” by using words like “mother” or “father,” since some patients might have two mothers or two fathers. Instead, workers were told to use the words “parents” or “guardians.” “Husband” and “wife” were also discriminatory, according to the new policy, and must be replaced by “partner” or “they/them.”
Those in authority at Scotland hospitals were required to “[h]ave a zero-tolerance policy to discriminatory language across all equality and diversity strands and communicate this to staff and service users.”
Meanwhile, in the Canadian city of Kamloops, British Columbia, a Catholic city councilman was brought up on charges before the provincial Human Rights Tribunal after two homosexual men took offense at his words.
What did John DeCicco say that was so bad? At a city council meeting he merely stated that homosexual acts were “not normal and not natural.” He repeated that opinion in media interviews, according to LifeSiteNews.com.
To avoid a full-fledged hearing on the matter, DeCicco was forced to pay a fine of $1,000 and provide a statement claiming that his comments were “inappropriate and hurtful to some.”
Also in British Columbia, postal workers in Vancouver staged a walk out after being told they had to deliver mail from a Christian organization because the postage had already been paid. What irked the postal workers was that the mailing was critical of the homosexual lifestyle.
Calling the mailed pamphlet “hate literature,” one representative of the postal workers union said the mail out was “homophobic and definitely unacceptable by any standard. We think it should never have been accepted by Canada Post,” the equivalent of the U.S. Postal Service. The pamphlet, he said, should have been censored.
Such disregard for free speech is becoming more common in the U.S. as well. For example, members of the evangelical group Repent America have been arrested by the police in both Philadelphia and Chicago for preaching the Gospel at gay pride events – both of which were held on public grounds and were open to the public.
Two cases surfaced in Virginia last year which also illustrated this knee-jerk hostility towards dissenters. In one, the Arlington Human Rights Commission ordered Tim Bono, a Christian and owner of Bono Film and Video, to duplicate two documentaries that promoted the homosexual agenda.
A lesbian who wanted the documentaries duplicated had contacted Bono about the job, but he told the woman that his Christian beliefs would not allow him to reproduce the videos. She brought him up before the Human Rights Commission, which sided with her.
In the other case, Luis Padilla was fired from his job at Cargill Foods in Timberville. The reason? Padilla had a sign on his pickup truck supporting an amendment to the Virginia Constitution which defined marriage as being between one man and one woman.
According to CNSNews.com, a statement released by the company said the sign could be “reasonably construed as a show of hostility and intolerance toward homosexuals.”
Then, in Maryland last summer, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich fired Robert J. Smith from his post on the Metro transit authority board for stating on a talk show that he disagreed with homosexuality.
“Homosexual behavior, in my view, is deviant,” Smith said on a local cable television talk show. “I’m a Roman Catholic.”
On the program Smith was speaking as a citizen, not as a Metro transit employee. “The comments I make in public outside my [Metro board job] I’m entitled to make,” he told the Washington Post. He added that his personal beliefs have “absolutely nothing to do with running trains and buses and have not affected my actions or decisions on this board.”
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan disagreed. He said that “Smith’s hateful and mean-spirited comments suggest that he is unfit to serve the public, and his immediate removal is wholly justified.”
The cost of free speech
Meanwhile a rather bizarre story out of Massachusetts showed just how expensive – literally – free speech can be. When Thomas Crouse, pastor of Holland Congregational Church in Worcester, publicized an event that featured a former homosexual sharing how Jesus Christ set him free from that lifestyle, local gay activists went ballistic. The activists threatened to picket the event.
Police and city officials told Crouse that, due to the threat of civil unrest caused by the picketing, the church would have to cough up the money – $6,000 – to pay police to keep order at the event.
Understandably, Crouse was upset. “If the protesters can create such a protest that the person holding the event has to pay for [police protection], they could shut it down – and that’s against your rights,” he said.
In all these cases there is a common sentiment: If you fail to support, by either words or deeds, the normalization of homosexuality, you will be punished.
Some of the Christians who are being subjected to these politically-correct backlashes are forced to defend themselves in court. Crouse has sued the city of Worcester; members of Repent America filed federal lawsuits against officials of both Philadelphia and Chicago; and after obtaining legal counsel Bono won a reversal of a Human Rights Commission order. (Smith has no legal recourse since he was serving as an appointee of Erhlich.)
But having to turn to the courts for protection means the cost of free speech for Christians might become prohibitive. After all, if someone is forced to risk his life savings or small business just for saying what he believes about homosexuality, many might decide it’s better to say nothing at all.
That appears to be what homosexual activists are hoping for.