Barring Baptists from the UK - would the Government ban Jesus?
Admit the Muslim extremists, the persecuted homosexualists, the misunderstood paedophiles and anyone and everyone from the European Union. Grant amnesties to the economic migrants, fraudsters and criminals. Let them all stay: give them all a house, a doctor, a dentist, schools, hospitals and thousands of pounds in benefits – whatever they may need to make their lives comfortable.
But, for God’s sake, do not admit anyone whose message might offend Muslims, homosexuals or the Home Secretary
For what it is worth, Cranmer thinks the ‘anti-gay fundamentalist US Christian preacher’ the Reverend Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas, is not a very nice chap. His message is un-Christian and manifestly unsympathetic to families who have suffered. He and his family are known for picketing the funerals of US servicemen and railing against the families of dead gay teenagers, proudly telling the mourners that their children are in hell.
It is hardly a gospel of love, and the Reverend Fred Phelps might reflect on the Lord's exhortation to weep with those who weep. The Baptists would probably say that he is not a very good Baptist: baptising by full immersion does not make one so. He must therefore be an extremist Baptist, or a Baptistist.
But as offensive as the Reverend and his misguided family may be, to deny him access to the UK on the grounds that he could spread ‘extremism and hatred’ is yet another nail in the coffin of free speech.
Actually, Cranmer is no longer certain that a coffin exists. He more than half suspects there has already been a clandestine cremation.
On the same grounds of spreading 'extremism and hatred', the Government would have had to bar entry to Hosea, Amos, Jonah, Daniel, Ezekiel, Isaiah – indeed, all of the Israelite prophets of the 5th-9th century BC. They fiercely railed against the prevailing culture, immorality, greed and idolatry. Isaiah said people were evil (1:6) and Ezekiel even cooked using human excrement (4:12) to help make his point, which is more than a little 'extreme'. They all publicly terrorised the people with the consequences of God’s judgement should they not repent. They believed themselves to be servants of God, vehicles through whom God himself spoke; divinely appointed to correct illegal beliefs and practices.
They offended by their message, and their words incited hatred.
The Government would probably ban Jesus himself from entering the UK. After all, he clearly caused offence (Mk 6:3; Jn 6:61), and was not overly complimentary towards the Pharisees or the Sadducees. He also had one or two stern words to say to those in government. And, let us not forget, he was a Jew, which might be even more likely to incite hatred from a few in the Muslim community, or Lord Ahmed.
It seems now that one may be denied entry to the UK if one has engaged in ‘unacceptable behaviour’, regardless of whether or not that behaviour has led to a criminal conviction. In frightening Orwellian fashion, the Government has adopted in full the mechanism of ‘Minority Report’ for prophesying criminal activity, and using it to justify depriving innocent people of their liberties and rights.
One is no longer innocent until proven guilty. But neither is one guilty until proven innocent. It is more a case of being guilty if the Home Secretary prophesies that you shall be.
How long, O Lord. How long?