1. During a protest against a forthcoming Gay Pride parade, Muslims hand out pamphlets titled: "Death Penalty?" which state that gays would go to hell.
2. The men are found guilty of "stirring up hatred" by "calling for the death of homosexuals".
3. Britain has a new law (2010) which makes it an offense to stir up hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.
4. Crown prosecutor said "people are entitled to hold extreme opinions which others may find unpleasant and obnoxious", but they are "not entitled to distribute those opinions in a threatening manner intending to stir up hatred . . . ."
5. The intent of the case is not to curtail "people's religious views or preventing them from educating others about those views" as long as they do it in a "lawful manner and not incite others to hatred."
Several things can be said of the ruling . . .
I. It's a good thing the accused weren't 'saved from being found guilty' through the application of Sharia Law. (Maybe that will come in an appeal stage, if there is one.)
II. It appears, one can express one's beliefs, but not hint that anyone should be killed for what they believe or how they live. So, it appears that it's okay to say "I believe practicing homosexuality is a sin and sinners go to hell" but it's not okay to say or imply that "homosexuals should be killed". And that's exactly right -- that should not be allowed. That's not our call, especially for Christians. We'll leave such actions and beliefs that adherents of a faith have the right to murder others because they don't accept the tenets of their faith, to some other religion, not Christianity or Judaism or Hinduism or Buddhism. Did I miss any? Perhaps intentionally and rightly so.
III. What is scary is that these men were found guilty primarily because at least one witness said he "felt" he was "being targeted" and he "feared he would be burned".
On that last point, there's good news and bad news: On the one hand we could argue that if these men were indeed implying that gays should be killed, then by all means -- whether someone 'felt' he was being targeted or that he 'feared' he would be killed, is immaterial. The men are guilty in either case, with or without that evidence. The would follow from my understanding of the new UK law.
On the other hand, what if the men were simply stating that "practicing homosexuality is a sin and sinners go to hell" (which I admit was not what they constrained themselves to) and one or more homosexuals then also "felt" they were being targeted or "feared" they would be killed? Could that also be considered sufficient to find the men, under these revised circumstances, guilty? I believe there's a good chance of that.
That is the problem with laws without absolutes -- or at least with laws without godly absolutes. Sooner or later you get tripped up by the rules. And sooner or later, enough people don't stand up for the truth.
Anyway, here are the details.
UK Muslims convicted in landmark gay hat... JPost - International
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