Tower or Cower?

Recently two elderly evangelical Christians in Britain expressed concern over their public library, which had been distributing leaflets promoting the homosexual lifestyle. Later police showed up at their home, interrogated them for more than an hour about their views on homosexuality and told them they might be breaking the law.

What law? No one seemed to know. According to one news account, they had been referred to the police by the local authority “with the intention of challenging attitudes and raising awareness of the implications of homophobic behavior.”

Another Christian — a Catholic writer named Lynette Burrows, a good friend of ours — opined on a radio show against adoption of children by homosexual couples. A while later, she was contacted by police and told she was being put on “a list.” What list? What crime had she committed? Again, no one seemed to know.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the British Broadcasting Corp. They were following publicity over these two cases and wanted to know my views as a Catholic journalist. Did I support the position of the Catholic Church on homosexuality? I said that I did, and quoted relevant material from the Catechism on homosexuality. I then went to talk to my husband. He is a lawyer. I needed to know about whether I would get into legal trouble for stating the teaching of the Catholic Church on the BBC.

It felt peculiar. I was brought up on stories about St. Thomas More, “the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” I know about St. Edmund Campion and what they did to him in the Tower of London. At school I was told that these men had preserved for us the great heritage of the Catholic faith at the cost of their lives and that my honor was to uphold and live this faith in joyful gratitude. Occasionally, on the lips of a lugubrious nun, this statement sometimes came with an addition that we, too, should be prepared to face martyrdom.

But that was just rhetoric. It didn’t mean much. Because alongside all that history stood the far more significant reality that this was modern Britain, where we honored our war dead who had ensured us freedom in the 20th century against a totalitarian foe. We were a free country. To be born British was the greatest possible privilege and the rest of the world looked to us as the supreme example of a nation living in freedom under the rule of law.

“You’re safe,” said lawyer Jamie, opening law books and getting to the heart of the matter. “What law has Lynette broken? What law did the evangelical couple break?”

And there isn’t one. Not yet, anyway. We are still free, at present, to state our religious belief that homosexual activity is wrong. At least, I think we are. But I am vulnerable. Some years ago, I led a successful campaign to have funding for “Gay News” in our local libraries withdrawn. I expect my name is on a list somewhere.

To my shame I found that, after my radio broadcast, I felt scared. Official police “Guidelines on Hate Crime” apparently mean I could be investigated, if someone makes an allegation of “homophobia” against me.

Then I thought of Pope John Paul’s call to us: “Do not be afraid!” I found these words came alive, and with them a sense of hope. Christ’s message is larger than anything the police can do. The Catholic faith will outlive modern idiocies. I am not alone.

Joanna Bogle

writes from London.