Several Christian groups in Scotland have spoken out against an anti-hate speech Scottish government campaign addressed to "bigots" in a sermon-style message.
The onescotland.org campaign asks residents to report hate crimes to the Scottish Police, noting that last year there were over 5,300 reported charges of hate crime.
It features several posters addressed to "bigots, disablists, homophobes, racists, and transphobes." The former begins with "Dear Bigots," and reads in full:
"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 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."
The campaign positions that a hate crime "can be verbal or physical and has hugely damaging effects on the victims, their families and communities, and we all must play our part to challenge it."
When giving examples of hate crimes, the Scottish government lists:
"Race (e.g. threatened because of where they are from or the color of their skin)
Religion (e.g. have abuse shouted at them because of their beliefs or religious dress)
Sexual orientation (e.g. tormented because they're holding hands with another person of the same gender)
Transgender identity (e.g. humiliated, intimidated or threatened online for being transgender)
Disability (e.g. attacked because they are disabled)."
Several Christian churches and groups, including international aid agency Barnabas Fund, have questioned the wording of the campaign, however.
Hendrik Storm, the charity's chief executive, told The Times that Christians have complained that the posters "single out religious believers and call them out as bigots without any real qualification."
"We have asked Scottish police to withdraw the posters, but if not we hope they will act on our complaint and honestly investigate their joint campaign with the Scottish government," he added.
"We are used to supporting Christians who face prejudice and discrimination, but we have never before felt it necessary to make a formal complaint of this kind in the U.K. This is no less than state-sponsored prejudice which we are more used to seeing in countries where Christians are marginalized and persecuted."
A spokesman for the Catholic Church added that the campaign appears to be "misleading and confused."
"The campaign has suggested that religious hate crimes are perpetrated by religious believers, but there is no evidence to suggest this is the case," the spokesman said.
"The blanket strategy taken towards religious intolerance is in stark contrast to the very specific approaches adopted for homophobia and transphobia, undermining the government's commitment to tackling religious hate crime and indicating a very poor understanding of the subject."
The Rev. David Robertson, minister of St. Peter's Free Church in Dundee and former moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, has also lodged a complaint.