A Scottish government campaign of anti-“hate” posters that describes Christians and other religious believers as “bigots” is being condemned for generating hate.
One pastor called the campaign’s anti-“hate” line to report the posters.
The international Christian ministry the Barnabas Fund has called on Scotland to withdraw the posters because they “promote anti-Christian prejudice.”
The posters by the One Scotland campaign are addressed “Dear Bigots.”
One message states: “Division seems to be what you believe in. We don’t want your religious hate on our buses, on our streets and in our communities. We don’t want you spreading your intolerance. Or making people’s lives a misery because of their religious dress. You may not have faith in respect and love, but we do. That’s why if we see or hear your hate, we’re reporting you. End of sermon.”
Another states: “You can’t spread your religious hate here. End of sermon.”
Another: “Do you think it’s right to harass people in the street? Right to push transgender people around in clubs? Right to humiliate, intimidate and threaten them online? Well, we don’t. That’s why if we see you doing harm, we’re reporting you. We believe people should be allowed to be themselves. Except if they’re spreading hate.”
Another: “Did you read about the girl with Down’s syndrome who was pushed to the ground? Or the man with a learning disability who as tormented so much he was driven to suicide? We did and it makes us sick. From now, if we see or hear your hate, we’re reporting you. We’re a caring nation, not a hating one. And we’re going to take away your ability to hurt people.”
One Scotland is run by the Scottish government.
Barnabas said the posters are a form of “state-sponsored hatred” that unfairly targets members of the Christian faith.
The Daily Mail of London reported Rev. David Robertson of St. Peter’s Free Church in Dundee said: “It is an absolute contradiction – a poster that is supposed to be against hatred that then encourages hatred. I showed my congregation the poster and they couldn’t believe it. It’s basically a poster that says if you are religious then you are a bigot.”
The campaign classifies people as bigots, racists, homophobes and transphobes, and threatens them with prosecutions and convictions.
The posters, which began appearing a few weeks ago, drew attention immediately.
Robertson said he reported the campaign’s posters for “fanning religious hatred.”
Police in Scotland say a hate crime is motivated by malice or ill will toward a social group based on race, sexual orientation, religion, disability or gender identity.
They also are on the prowl from hate “incidents,” which fall short of being crimes.
Barnabas Fund is asking Scottish police to remove the posters.
The ministry explained that using the word “sermon” seemed to target religious groups, including Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Barnabas’ CEO Hendrik Storm issued a statement saying he was “shocked” by the message on the posters.
The organization has supported Christians who face prejudice and discrimination globally since 1993 but has never before deemed it necessary to make a formal complaint in the United Kingdom.
“This form of state-sponsored prejudice is something that Barnabas is more used to encountering in countries where Christians are marginalized and persecuted minorities,” the group said.