"Servants of the Lord Jesus Christ should expect to be called bigots"
From the Rev'd Julian Mann:
A letter published by the editor of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's local paper, the Sheffield Telegraph, is alarmingly illustrative of the triumph of political correctness over Judaeo-Christian values.
In the edition of October 24th, the editor published a letter by Ms Laura Woodhouse objecting to Mr Greg Fletcher's view, expressed in his letter of October 17th, that 'for relationships to have a strong foundation and to last sex should be seen as something special and only for that one life-long partnership within a marriage between a man and a woman'.
Responding to a report about the number of teenage pregnancies, Mr Fletcher had also said: 'Outside of marriage, sex gets cheapened and reduces people, particularly women, to objects and not human beings.'
Here is Ms Woodhouse's letter in full:
I must say I was rather amused to learn that my highly enjoyable marriage-free sex life has, according to Mr Fletcher, reduced me to an object.Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg clearly shares Ms Woodhouse's negative opinion of evangelical Christian readers like me who agree with Mr Fletcher. Even if he does not regard us as bigots, he does see us as 'dinosaurs' as he made clear when addressing his recent party conference.
What I found less amusing was his assertion that sex should only take place between "a man and a woman". Far from supporting youngsters, such homophobic beliefs contribute to the discrimination and abuse suffered by lesbian, gay, and bisexual young people, and I was disappointed to see Mr Fletcher's bigotry printed uncritically in the Telegraph.
But more pressing than the view of a prominent reader like Mr Clegg, who is quite likely to lose his seat anyway in 2015, is why the editor of the Sheffield Telegraph was apparently so willing without comment to publish a criticism against his newspaper for printing Mr Fletcher's letter 'uncritically'.
Such editorial prostration before a politically-correct rant like Ms Woodhouse's is astonishing. The letters page in the Sheffield Telegraph is called 'Opinion'. The editor at the very least should have had the self-respect to point that out under Ms Woodhouse's letter whilst making clear that she was entitled to her opinion.
Surely such obeisance to PC by a local newspaper cannot be blamed on Leveson. Even under the proposed Royal Charter, which British newspaper groups are rightly opposing, there would be no requirement to include editorial comments against readers' letters that assert that sex should only take place within heterosexual marriage.
As a regular reader of the Sheffield Telegraph, I have no quibble with the editor's decision to publish Ms Woodhouse's letter. In fact, I would deplore an editorial comment criticising an opinion in a reader's letter even and perhaps especially one in which I am accused of bigotry.
Servants of the Lord Jesus Christ should expect to be called bigots by the likes of Ms Woodhouse. The editorial practice she is advocating would reduce us Christian readers to cry babies.
It is not clear what comment under Mr Fletcher's letter she would have liked the editor to have published. Would it be something along the lines of: 'It is the view of this newspaper that, far from supporting youngsters, such homophobic beliefs as Mr Fletcher's contribute to the discrimination and abuse suffered by lesbian, gay, and bisexual young people'?
Sounds like the kind of editorial philosophy of which Joseph Stalin would be proud.
Julian Mann is vicar Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire, UK.