Spanish television authorities have fined the U.K. Christian broadcasting channel Revelation TV amid claims of "homophobia," because an evangelical pastor advised that parents of children struggling with gender identity issues not fall prey to social engineering.
Evangelical Focus reported on Thursday that Spain's National Commission of Markets and Competition, or CNMC, found that a broadcast of Revelation TV in September 2017 "could be considered threatening to the dignity of the homosexual and transgender group, although there was no manifest incitation to hate against these groups by the channel that owns the program."
The fine imposed on Revelation TV was around $7,000.
Gordon Pettie, director of Revelation TV, told Spanish site Protestante Digital that the comments in question stemmed from a discussion on whether Christians should move their children from schools that allow young pupils to identify as transgender.
The pastor, whose name wasn't provided, spoke about transgender issues, saying: "The problem is that these guys are carrying out what I call social engineering. They´re coming with ideas of their own, in order to lead society in a particular direction. But we must not allow that to happen. Let the child grow up naturally and when they are old enough let them decide what they want to do. At 18, they will decide whatever they want to do, having the freedom to do so."
He continued: "Christians have to wake up and say: listen, we are going to create a political party or join a party to change this madness. We are going to have to do this, because if we don't, we will have Sodom and Gomorrah at our doorsteps, where they are going to tell you: we want to get hold of those men in there and we want to sleep with them and there's nothing you can do about it."
CNMC argued that there was clear homophobia in the statement, and said that linking homosexual and transsexual groups with Sodom and Gomorrah "is degrading for those groups."
It warned that such content "can generate a state of alarm in the Christian community and prompt rejection of these groups, with negative connotations, openly opposed to the needed respect for human dignity."
Pettie defended the statement, however, and said that the pastor has freedom of speech.
"We believe the Bible is our basis and our world," the director of Revelation TV said.
"Revelation TV is a Christian TV station, we are 15 years old, we are owned by a charity. We deal with issues form a Christian perspective," Pettie explained, noting that the station plans to appeal the fine.
"We look at the news, we have Bible study, worship, church service, everything you would expect of a Christian TV station," he added.
As with much of the rest of Western Europe, Spain has also in recent years seen a move away from traditional Christianity, with a rising non-religious population.
Atheist politician Pedro Sánchez was sworn in as the country's new prime minister earlier in June in a ceremony scrubbed of religious symbols. It was the first swearing-in without the presence of a crucifix or a Bible in Spain's modern history, reports noted.