Norwich pastor's email investigated by Police
A Norwich church pastor is being investigated by Norfolk Police after sending an open e-mail to organisers of the recent Norwich Pride March, which they found offensive and reported to the Police.
Dr Clifford (pictured right) was subsequently visited by a police officer investigating a possible homophobic incident relating to the e-mail and given the choice of paying an ‘on-the-spot’ fine of £90 or producing a signed statement in defence of his action.
He chose the latter course, saying: “I asked the officer that since we are offended by their public display of homosexuality, could we not have made a complaint to the police? He answered that we had such a right to complain. I then explained that we were perfectly within the law regarding our criticism of homosexuality.”
Quoting Lord Justice Sedley,
Dr Clifford said: “Free speech includes not only the inoffensive, but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and provocative provided that it does not tend to violence. Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having.”
And now national and local publications have joined the debate
columnist Adrian Hilton
, wrote on the Spectator website: “I have met Alan Clifford on a few occasions at various conferences: he is intelligent, educated and thoughtful. I don’t agree with his view of Islam (he says it is ‘evil’), and I’m not personally a fan of placards and tracts as a means of doing Christian mission. But his zeal for the gospel is burning and passionate: he believes every word of God’s plan for mankind and means every assurance he preaches.
“I confess I used to view with a degree of discouragement and dismay those Bible-bashing Christians with their ‘end-of-the-world’-type placards, preaching fire and brimstone and hell and damnation. I find myself now feeling not much less than contempt for those gays who persecute and prosecute elderly hotel owners and B&B proprietors, or call in the police when they receive ‘Good News for Gays’ in their inbox. It is deeply and profoundly intolerant.”
Click here to read the full article
Meanwhile, the Eastern Daily Press has reported on the incident and the reaction of a Norwich Pride spokesman, who told the paper: “We received a very offensive email from Dr Alan Clifford immediately after this year’s Pride celebrations. It contained homophobic language. Our mission at Norwich Pride is to ensure that we live in a city where everyone feels safe and proud to be themselves – and nobody feels hated simply for being who they are. We reported the email to the police as a hate incident and are pleased that they are dealing with it seriously.”
The EDP, in its leader column, said: “Norwich is a thriving city that has a rich and proud tradition of cultural depth – and tolerance of other people. The comments of the Rev Dr Alan Clifford are an unpalatable and unwelcome reminder of narrow-mindedness that has no place in our splendid city.
“We greet them with the disdain that we are sure the vast majority of people feel. And we reiterate our support for Norwich Pride, which will surely rise above such pettiness and continue to do Norwich proud.”
Click here to read the EDP24 story
Editor’s note: Network Norfolk reports on this story to help inform the Norfolk Christian community about both sides of this debate. We take no sides in such matters but are happy to receive the comments of our readers.
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