A town councillor in Cornwall has written to Britain’s Home Secretary accusing a Baptist preacher of spreading hate by criticising gay pride, requesting the pastor’s immediate deportation to his native Australia.
Pastor Josh Williamson of Newquay Baptist Church wrote on Facebook last month that the cancellation of this year’s Pride event called Rainbow Fest was “wonderful news” adding that “I don’t think sin should be celebrated.”
Newquay Town Councillor Stephen Hick said the pastor’s post constitutes hate speech and merits deportation.
Mr Hick, who is also the leader of Cornwall Pride, wrote a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel claiming that Pastor Williamson’s presence in the country is a source of “continuing harm” to the gay community.
“Josh Williamson’s ministry has caused harm to members of the community of Newquay and the wider LGBTQ+ community across Cornwall,” Hick alleged in his letter. “I believe his continued presence, preaching the hate that he does, presents a continuing harm to the same communities.”
“I am unaware of the previous ministry of this particular church, but a foreign preacher travelling to the UK to promote and potentially act upon extremist views should be treated with the utmost seriousness,” he added.
Along with his letter to the Home Secretary, Mr. Hick also wrote an op-ed in the Newquay Voice calling on local businesses to refuse services to Pastor Williamson and members of his church.
“I call on every individual and business within Newquay to deny him and his church the ability to spread their odious message,” Hick wrote. “Do not interact with them, do not allow them to use your premises, do not accept their message.”
In response, Pastor Williamson said Hick’s comments constituted “textbook bullying”.
“I am not sure how Mr Hick is going to identify those connected with our church, perhaps he’ll want us to wear a yellow cross on our shirts?” Williamson said.
“Is it tolerant to call for a Pastor to be removed from the country and to have his visa revoked?” Williamson wrote on Facebook last Tuesday. “Is it tolerant to call on ‘every individual and business within Newquay to deny him [me] and his church the ability to spread their odious message’?”
“Is it tolerant to tell business and members of the public to ‘not interact with them [the church], do not allow them to use your premises, do not accept their message’? he asked.
“We will not bow to his anti-Christian hatred and his racism,” Williamson concluded. “He can bully all he wants, but bullies should not be surrendered to.”
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LGBT activists threatened Pastor Williamson and his wife with violence and called for the torching of his church.
Devon and Cornwall Police — sponsors of Cornwall Pride — visited Pastor Williamson and warned him to refrain from offending the LGBT community in the future and to restrict his views to a “safe environment”.
The Christian Legal Centre said that the police response was itself cause for concern.
“It’s becoming worryingly common in the UK to see threats and calls for violence against Christians for voicing their simple opposition to LGBT Pride,” said Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre.
“Police forces should show Christians they take this seriously by protecting their free speech against mob threats rather than by seeking to keep Christians quiet,” she said.
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