I suppose it was to be expected. After the crushing defeat for the Scottish government at the United Kingdom Supreme Court over their Named Person scheme, we not only had the spin which sought to turn it into victory, but then, sadly, the intimidation and mockery which has become so much part of the current Scottish political scene. Whilst there are Christians who support the named person scheme, and others who do not really know, and whilst there were secular organisations and groups opposed to the scheme, it is doubtful whether the court case would never have succeeded without the Christian Institute and CARE. Whatever one’s view about the scheme, I would hope that all democrats and all Christians would accept that those who are opposed to it, have a right to express that opposition and to campaign against what they believe to be wrong. But sadly there is a growing democratic deficit in our country which means that opposition to anything that our governing elites decide is a good thing, will be declared an evil.
Even though I was aware of this, it still came as a surprise to find an article last Sunday in the Sunday Herald that was a blatant piece of propaganda and an attempt at intimidation against the Christian Institute. This is how the article began:
The evangelical Christian charity, which led the legal action against the Scottish government on the controversial Named Person legislation, is to be investigated over whether it misused funds in pursuing the case.
The Christian Institute, a creationist charity which believes that every word in the bible is fact, joined with other conservative and religious charities, and three individuals, in an effort to stop the Scottish government introducing the nation-wide welfare scheme for all children. Their appeal against it was successful in the Supreme Court on Thursday after the Court of Session in Edinburgh had dismissed it last year.
The Charity Commission, which governs charities, will now have to decide whether the Christian Institute’s spending on the case, and that of its three other charity partners, was a justified use of funds. There are strict rules concerning political campaigning and spending, which is only permitted when it is in pursuit of the charity’s aims and objectives. The institute has been criticised in the past by the commission for inappropriate campaigning.
It is very disappointing that the Sunday Herald, which is a quality newspaper, resorts at times to such blatant propaganda and to being used as a tool for intimidating those who do not agree with the agenda of the Scottish government. Their article states correctly that the charities commission were to investigate the Christian Institute. What they don’t say is what that investigation is based upon. It could just be one disgruntled SNP supporter in Edinburgh making a complaint to the charities commission, which they are then obliged to investigate. The newspaper then reports this as though it were some kind of major event. This is equivalent to you hearing that police are investigating the minister of St Peter’s Free Church. That sends all kinds of alarm bells going. You automatically wonder, ‘what has he been up to now?!’. And yet it may be that someone has just made a complaint about an alleged hate crime because of an article I have written, to which there is no substance and no possibility of prosecution. Yet there is an investigation! “There can be no smoke without fire’. (the way this works is that the person making the complaint, with a desire to stir up trouble, then informs the press that they have done so and it gets reported as ‘Christian Institute being investigated’ – ever wonder how the Herald got this story?)
The issue here is not whether one agrees with the Christian Institute’s stance on the named person, but whether as a charity they have a right to campaign against it. They believe that the Named Person Act As it stands is illegal and an infringement of family and children’s rights, which they want to stand up for. In this case the court found in their favour. But the implication being given in the Sunday Herald article is that they should not have campaigned at all, even though they were correct. It is true that charities are not allowed to engage in party political campaigning, but they are allowed to lobby and to campaign, providing such activity is within their charitable aims.
The Christian Institute exists for “the furtherance and promotion of the Christian religion in the United Kingdom” and “the advancement of education”.
The Christian Institute is a nondenominational Christian charity committed to upholding the truths of the Bible. We are supported by individuals and churches throughout the UK.
We believe that the Bible is the supreme authority for all of life and we hold to the inerrancy of Scripture. We are committed to upholding the sanctity of life from conception.
If however the charities commission were to decide that no charitable organisation could engage in political activities or government lobbying then we would end up with a very interesting situation. For a start it would finish the work of Stonewall and The Equality Network! Both these organisations regularly engage in political campaigns. Indeed it is doubtful whether any politician in a mainstream political party can afford to upset them, such is the power they wield through their’ awards’, campaigns, media influence, and threat of outing anyone who disagrees with them as homophobic. Never mind Junckers little black book, it is far more dangerous for any contemporary politician in the United Kingdom to be on the hit list of the various LGBT activist/political charities.
What is even worse is that a substantial amount of their funding comes from the government. Over £9 million has been spent by the Scottish government since 2002 in supporting LGBT charities. Here for example are the figures from
|1||Stonewall||Good Practice Project||£100,000.00|
Informed and Empowered Communities
|3||Equality Network||Policy Project||£50,000.00
|4||Equality Network||Community Sector Building||£60,000.00
|5||Equality Network||Intersectional Project||£60,000.00|
|6||Equality Network||Scottish Transgender Alliance||£125,000.00
|7||LGBT Youth||Domestic Abuse||£60,000.00
|8||LGBT Youth||Young People’s Policy and Participation||£60,000.00|
|9||LGBT Youth||Community Capacity Building||£90,000.00
|10||LGBT Youth||LGBT History Month||£55,000.00
Some More Equal than Others
The Christian Institute, like most Christian charities will not receive a penny from the government. Solas and St Peters and most Christian organisations are funded from the donations of our members, not the taxpayers. The Equality Network on the other hand is in effect funded by the government to tell the government what to do and then to congratulate the government on what it is doing, before asking it to do more of the same thing again! It appears that some are more equal than others!
There is an even deeper irony. Some of the charities which campaigned in favour of the Named Person could find themselves reported to OSCR on the basis that they were spending money campaigning for a law which breached children’s rights and were, therefore, not in line with their aims and objectives. Given that the faculty of Advocates and the Law Society of Scotland had warned about the Article 8 issues in evidence to the Scottish parliament’s Education and Culture committee, it is not as if they were unaware of these. These charities were being funded by the Scottish government to support and promote a scheme that has been found to be illegal. Rather than The Sunday Herald carrying articles threatening the Christian Institute, they should be questioning why major children’s charities should have supported an action that was opposed to the European Convention on Human Rights!
Even as I write the following has just come in: as expected the Christian Institute has been cleared of wrongdoing:
The controversial Christian charity which led the legal action against the Scottish government on the Named Person legislation did not misuse its funds in pursuing the case.
The Christian Institute, a creationist charity which believes that every word in the bible is true, joined with three other charities and three individuals to stop the Scottish government imposing on all children a legal mentor, usually a teacher, who would have access to a range of private information about them and their families.
The successful legal action in the Supreme Court by the institute and the other partners, so far costing £300,000, means that within six weeks the government will have to come up with proposals that do not infringe the right to privacy enshrined in the European Human Rights Act.
The Charity Commission, which governs charities, has extremely onerous rules about political campaigning which is only legitimate if it furthers the aims of the charity. On Monday the commission investigated whether the Christian Institute had inappropriately used its funds to take legal action against the government and concluded that it had not.
This is not a surprise. No one expected otherwise. However this story is part of a pattern of intimidation and bullying that is sadly becoming all too prevalent in modern Scottish and British society. You dare to go against us and we will threaten you. You will note in both reports from the Herald how they describe the Christian Institute as creationist and as an organisation that believes that every word of the Bible is true. This is not said in order to provide information, but rather to provide a warning and of course to give opportunity for people to mock (red neck idiots, how could anyone believe such a thing?!) – an opportunity which is all too readily taken up in the comments section that follows. As someone who is a trustee of several Christian charities I am aware of the pressures that come from people who seek to intimidate, threaten and bully in such a manner. Most of us just can’t be bothered with the hassle so we try not to step out of line.
The Enemy Within –
But the biggest threat that we face in the Christian church today does not come from militant secularists, political establishments or media ignorance. No the biggest threat we face comes from within the ranks of professing Christians. And this case provides a classic example.
On the Facebook page of Secular Scotland, an Anglican Christian, a former Free Church minister, publicly declared:
At the risk of being accused of pettiness by DAR, there might also be a case for investigating Solas for the same reason. He takes the view he alone represents “the Christian position” (mainly on LGBTQ &c) issues. Very many Christians indeed would deny this.
To which their leader Gary Otton responded – I would LOVE to see Solas investigated.
The exchange continued – I’m ex-FC and have a great deal of affection for a good many people in it even if we’re not entirely on the same wavelength. I’m pretty pissed off Robo sets himself up as their spokesman. Come to think of it he sets himself up as God’s spokesman full stop.
But can you imagine this? How dark, twisted and evil is it that someone who professes to be a Christian writes on a militant secular Facebook page, where most of the posts are mocking religion in general and Christianity in particular, and provides them with further ammunition for their hate campaign. The irony is that such people are usually the ones who shout the most about Christian unity and love!
I think what I find interesting about this is that the Christian concerned attends the church led by Kelvin Holdsworth, who amongst other things has used the Orlando massacre as an opportunity to call for the Scottish government and others to deal with faith-based organisations who don’t accept SSM and other aspects of the gay rights agenda. Kelvin has suggested that organisations who do not support his particular view of gay rights should have their charitable status withdrawn.
As it happened I have just been reading Jeremiah chapter 29, where God is angry against the false Prophets. The whole chapter is a solemn warning for the Church in the UK today. “For they have done outrageous things in Israel; they have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and in my name they have uttered lies—which I did not authorize. I know it and am a witness to it, declares the LORD”.
I realise and understand that for secularists, who know nothing beyond their own wisdom and opinions, that someone claiming to speak on behalf of God is an immediate object of mockery and derision. But for a professing Christian to join in and feed that mockery is profoundly sad.
As for the charge that ‘I alone’ represent Christians on this issue or indeed on any issue, I plead, not guilty! There are ‘7000’ who have not bowed the knee to Baal.
But on the charge that I claim to be speaking on behalf of God, I plead, guilty! Why else would I be a minister? Who else would I be speaking on behalf of? My own opinion is irrelevant. Who am I that anyone should listen to me? As a minister of God’s word my only concern has to be that is God’s word that is spoken. I have personal opinions about many things, as readers of this blog will know! But I dare not give them the authority or the kudos of the Word of God. However when God does give us his word it would be an absolute sin for me to put it forward as just my opinion or as something that can be discounted as merely human. Thus says the Lord, is essential.
There is a real famine of hearing the word of the Lord in our land, and I have no intention of shutting up, or being bullied and mocked into silence, whether by militant secularists or their spiritual allies, militant liberals. In that sense I empathise completely with Jeremiah (although I hasten to add I do not put myself on a par with him at all), that the word of the Lord is like a fire within my bones. I cannot keep it in.
I Confess –
The basic definition of a Christian, is someone who follows Christ. If we ignore the Spirit inspired word that Christ has given us, if we just adapt things to suit our own personal tastes, lifestyle and the fashions of the culture in which we live, then it is not Christ we are following but ourselves. And we dare not claim to be Christians.
So I admit it. I am an extremist Christian. I extremely love Jesus Christ. I have based my whole life upon him. And yes, I would die for him. I believe everything he says. I believe that he knows best for the whole of his creation. And yes I am a creationist – in that I believe that it was through him, and by him, and for him that all things were created. And yes he is the judge. He is the only saviour. He is the life, the light and the truth. He is the Holy and Beautiful One. The one who was dead, but now lives – forever.
I don’t want anyone to follow me – because I am none of these things. I want everyone to follow Jesus. If you come to my church, you will very soon discover that it is not my church. It is his church. It is his household. It is his family. I am only a servant within that church. I hope and pray that no one in the congregation believes anything because I say it. But rather that they will believe every word which comes from the mouth of the living God and ignore every word that just comes from the mind of David Robertson.
Begin the Investigation.
So go ahead. Investigate me. Investigate St Peters. Investigate Solas. You won’t find anything criminal, illegal or dishonest. You are welcome to look at our books and at what we do. We have nothing to hide. Although you will certainly find that we are sinful people, and that there are many things wrong with us. And that’s why we hope that any investigation of us will cause you ultimately to investigate our greatest hope, Jesus Christ. Ultimately he is the only one worth investigating, and the only one worth following. I pray that even those who are his enemies just now, will, like Saul, be turned from their mockery, hatred and disbelief into Pauls who can say “for me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”!