English clergyman informed against, harassed by police for saying homosexuality is a sin

There was a Gay Power march in the quiet rural city of Norwich in England a month or so ago.  I remember thinking how offensive it probably was — and was intended to be — to the conservative inhabitants of the city. I remember thinking how much it was a triumphalist proclamation of gay power over the people, and how even objecting was now not allowed.

It seems that one courageous man did object, and, being a free-born Englishman, said so.  An article in the Spectator reports the horrifying story:

You’re at home, enjoying a summery Saturday afternoon with the bees and nasturtiums on the patio, when the doorbell intrudes. You’re greeted by an impeccably courteous, fresh-faced police officer from the Norfolk Constabulary – ‘Dedicated to this neighbourhood’, according to their website – and he’s come to speak to you because there’s been a complaint.

Not, you understand, about the troubling number of burglaries, rising car thefts, incidences of property vandalism or madhouse music accompanying balmy barbeques. No, someone has reported you for sending them two gospel tracts by email, one entitled ‘Christ Can Cure – Good News for Gays’; and the other ‘Jesus Christ – the Saviour we all need’. Some people might have simply deleted them both and directed all further correspondence from you to ‘spam’, but these people got offended. Very offended. The allegation against you is that of ‘homophobic hate’.

The officer politely offers you a choice: you can either admit your guilt there and then, accepting an on-the-spot fine of £90. Or you can contest the allegation, provide a signed statement in your defence, after which it will be for a senior police officer to decide whether or not to refer your case to the Crown Prosecution Service.

It is not clear at this stage upon what basis the police have judged the tracts to be ‘homophobic’. But it is made crystal clear that you may have committed a homophobic crime, having communicated by electronic means something likely to annoy or cause offence. You are the subject of a criminal investigation.

This was the scenario which confronted the Revd Dr Alan Clifford, Pastor of the Norwich Reformed Church, the weekend before last. In theory, he could have declined the fine and refused to provide a statement, but Dr Clifford is a helpful and accommodating sort of chap. So, at 5.45pm on 17 August 2013, instead of settling down in front of the telly, he set about responding to a series of probing questions.  ….

Dr Clifford says he was not permitted to make a copy of his statement, so the precise details of his interrogation may not be exactly as recounted.

These kinds of tactics belong to the police state, and are outrageous.

But he recalls being asked why he had sent the e-mail in the first place – whether it was purposely to annoy or cause offence to the recipient(s). He responded: ‘No. I was reporting to the gay-pride people our Christian complaint against the public display of their homosexual propaganda, which we find offensive.’

In the hierarchy of competing rights, of course, offence is a one-way chase. He was then asked if he was aware that he’d actually committed a homophobic offence as defined by the official police leaflet which the officer then presented to him. It apparently defined such an offence as ‘any incident which is perceived to be homophobic by the victim or any other person’.

The article continues in the same depressing vein; a policeman demanding to know, not what a clergyman has done, but what he thinks.

[The police] had, it seems, already determined Dr Clifford’s guilt on the basis of a complaint by someone at Norwich Pride, hence the immediate offer of a £90 fine to make it all go away. This is speed-camera homophobia: capture an image of the incident; pay a reduced fixed penalty now; or dare to defend yourself in protracted court proceedings which might result in a greater fine and/or even a custodial sentence.

A decision has now, in fact, been taken: a senior police officer at the Norfolk Constabulary has got a whiff of homophobia under his nostrils, and the case has been referred to the CPS. The Revd Dr Alan Clifford, BA, MLitt, PhD, Pastor of Norwich Reformed Church, now awaits a decision on whether he will indeed be prosecuted.

I have read these tracts, and there isn’t a word of hate in them.

I wonder where we might obtain copies of these tracts?

I have written to Norfolk Police and enquired simply whether the article is correct.  I encourage others to do likewise.  Evil loves darkness, and the bully demands that his victim says nothing.  It costs nothing to send a polite email of enquiry, and to thereby remind them that their actions — immoral, certainly, and probably illegal under the Human Rights Act — are visible to the world.

I have also written to “Norwich Pride” to enquire what precisely were the phrases that were so “extreme” that they felt the police had to be involved.

I will let you know what either say.

UPDATE: 3rd September 2013.  Lots of auto-response emails from the police.  No substance yet.  Response from the press office at “Norwich Pride”: “Sorry, we are not forwarding the email.”  Of course I didn’t ask them to; only to tell me specifically what phrases were so “extreme” that the police had to be involved.

11 Responses to “English clergyman informed against, harassed by police for saying homosexuality is a sin”


  1. Peter M. Thornber

    Aren’t the complainants and the policeman [together, of course with its Chief Constable and its “police commissioner” guilty of a hate crime against the Reverend Doctor Clifford on account of his religious belief?

  2. Roger Pearse

    I think the language of “hate crime” is itself pejorative. What business is it of the state how people feel?

  3. Peter M. Thornber

    I suppose I must, at least to some extent, agree; “hate crime” sounds unpleasantly like Orwellian thought crime and it’s ironic that it’s the politicaly correct who have unleashed this totalitarian intolerance.

  4. Patrick Cullinan, Jr.

    It’s coming. Clandestine denunciation, arrest, imprisonment, confiscation, eventually execution. We’ve been blest to live in these times.

  5. Matthew Hamilton

    I feel offended by what the police officer is reported to have said, I feel that I am a victim, and I perceive that what the police officer is reported to have said is homophobic: Where do I lodge my complaint to have the police officer fined?

    It would be good to see what the requirements are to lodge a complaint (do I need to be in England?), to see if the police are compelled to act on the complaint – and then lodge thousands of complaints to stuff the system up and show how stupid whole system is

  6. Roger Pearse

    The wording is broad and vague, which allows official harassment to begin whenever those desiring to harass like. Real offences are precise; political offences seem always to be phrased in such a way that almost anyone could be caught.

    I would imagine that only favoured groups are allowed to use this system.

  7. Suburbanbanshee

    Yes, but there’s a good deal of fun for the happy warrior in reversing the system. And of course, there’s just that chance that it will work.

    Of course, the difficulty is that the UK legal system is different enough from the US one that I don’t really have anything useful to say about how to do it. But certainly, if there’s any offensive graffiti at the church or the man’s home, or emails documenting harassment of the preacher, it would probably help as evidence for complaints.

    The other thing is that the Pride group can’t complain about the cure pamphlet unless they make a stand one way or the other about the definition of homosexuality.

    If they believe that sexuality is fluid and choice-based (as is favored by people advocating “exploration” by kids in college), then obviously counseling and conservative lifestyle choices would be potentially able to reverse any alternative lifestyle choice.

    OTOH, if people believe it’s either an inborn genetic condition, a medical condition acquired during life, or a psychological condition acquired during life, then they are in the same position as Deaf activists who oppose medical solutions to deafness because they think deafness is a favorable cultural attribute and not a problem — ie, they have the right to oppose research and try to spread their own attitudes, but not the right to stop research and therapy or to deny deaf and hearing people information about various approaches to curing deafness.

  8. James Snapp, Jr.

    Roger,

    This is the sort of report that really sets one thinking; it shows the fruit of what we here in the USA call “political correctness” — someone, in the name of civility and mutual respect, invents a code designed to avoid offending a particular group of people; then the code is turned into a policy; then the policy is turned into a vaguely worded law — and the result is that the particular group of people, even groups defined by their actions or beliefs rather than any ethnic characteristic, get to decide how the law is to be applied, which effectively means that they get to decide what other people can say about them.

    Sadly I think the Thought Police in Britain will continue to enforce these idiotic laws that render Citizen A’s opportunistic and agenda-driven sensitivity the difference between whether or not Citizen B has committed a crime — right up to the point where they form the basis for a smooth transition to anti-blasphemy statutes under Shariah.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.

  9. Roger Pearse

    I’m sure that the “happy warrior” approach espoused by Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn is the right reply. These awful encroachments on our liberty – more, even, than the admittedly bad law allows – arise because of lack of opposition. What (non-Christian) pressure group would NOT like to be able to intimidate any criticism of themselves, and report anyone who fails to conform to the police in the certain knowledge that the police will be afraid to refuse?

    The answer is indeed to fight back. The law being abused for this process was drawn up in a deliberately vague way, in the belief that nobody would dare object to the most outlandish and extreme interpretation of it. But for the same reason it is wide open to being used against them. All that is needed is a watertight case, a courageous lawyer and an honest judge — they have purged the judiciary as well, but such purges are never 100% successful — and a precedent will be created which they do not like.

    Until the gaystapo start feeling some negative consequences, they will have no incentive not to keep pushing for more and more power and privilege.

  10. Roger Pearse

    I wish that I had the time to do this myself. I don’t have time for politics, myself. I don’t even want to introduce issues like this here. But I can’t very well praise the ancient confessors and martyrs, while ignoring the modern ones!

  11. More on the arrest of a preacher in Norwich for objecting to homosexuality at Roger Pearse

    […] Further to yesterday’s post, I have now seen the email which caused “Norwich Pride” to report Dr Clifford to the police.  It is entirely innocuous.  Every word of it is benevolent, and addressed to sinners, calling them to repentance.  I would post it here without a second thought except that I find myself asking…. would I be safe in doing so?  Would I find the police at my door?  Had I better ask a solicitor?  Or the police for permission? […]



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