(Photo: Reuters/Russell Boyce)
Evangelicals in the U.K. have rebuked comments made by the Chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission in Britain for accusing evangelical Christians of wanting to “have a fight,” and that they “choose sexual orientation as the ground to fight” out of political motivation.
In an interview published Sunday, Trevor Phillips angered Christians by saying many groups that argue against homosexuality were only doing so to gain political advantage. According to the Sunday Telegraph Phillips said, “There are some Christian organisations who basically want to have a fight and therefore they're constantly defining the ground in such a way that anyone who doesn't agree wholly agree with them about everything is essentially a messenger from Satan.”
He continued: “I think for a lot of Christian activists, they want to have a fight and they choose sexual orientation as the ground to fight it on. I think that whole argument isn't about the rights of Christians. It's about politics. It's about a group of people who really want to have weight and influence and they've chosen that particular ground.
“Personally I don't know why they don't choose ground that really is defending Christian values. I wish they'd choose gambling or human trafficking or something,” he said.
Phillips stoked controversy further referring to growing African and Caribbean congregations as having “old time” views that put them at odds with mainstream Britain.
He said, “If you come from an Afro-Caribbean Christian background the attitudes to homosexuality are unambiguous, they are undiluted, they are nasty and in some cases homicidal.”
He accused the Church of making “an awful lot of noise” about being persecuted, but Phillips said that many of those driving a revival believed in “old time religion” which in Phillip’s view was “incompatible with a modern, multi-ethnic, multicultural society.”
The U.K. Evangelical Alliance led the way in criticizing Phillip’s comments, saying in a statement released on its website that “Phillips' analysis is in some areas defective.”
The EAUK called Phillips’ comments about African-Caribbean Christianity being an irrelevant old time religion as “patronizing and disparaging”
“Sadly Mr Phillips fails to appreciate that this expression of Christian belief is at the heart of the mainstream, historic and orthodox Christian church that is growing rapidly in every continent,” the statement expressed.
Although Phillips spoke harshly of Christians, he sparked further controversy by then giving a very contrasting view of British Muslims. He told The Sunday Telegraph that in his opinion “Muslim communities in this country are doing their damnedest to try to come to terms with their neighbors to try to integrate and they're doing their best to try to develop an idea of Islam that is compatible with living in a modern liberal democracy.”
The EAUK, however, once again disagreed saying Phillip’s was “mistaken in assuming Muslims have integrated better into the new world of equality and human rights than Christians. The likely reality is that Christianity is seen as a 'soft target'.”
The Phillips interview also touched on the subject of Catholic adoption agencies, which were refused an exemption from laws stating they could not exclude gay couples when placing adopted children. This forced many Catholic adoption agencies to close their services completely, as they refused to compromise against their faith.
Phillips was unsympathetic to the situation Catholic adoption agencies found themselves in. He told The Sunday Telegraph: “You're offering a public service and you're a charity and there are rules about how charities behave. You have to play by the rules. We can't have a set of rules that apply to one group of people simply because they happen to think it's right.”
Dr Don Horrocks, Head of Public Affairs at the EAUK defended Christianity’s position in modern day society, saying, “Christians have been at the forefront of defending religious liberty and freedom of speech and conscience against the encroachment of a largely secular agenda that has been forcibly seeking to impose a 'one size fits all' blunt instrument of equalities legislation on everyone.
“Such an approach ignorantly assumes that faith adherents can simply suspend their convictions and consciences in public life and keep them private,” he said.