Originally published in Christian Today
A church minister has reported the Scottish Government’s hate crime posters to the campaign’s own website over concerns that they are doing more to encourage hate than prevent it.
David Robertson, minister of St Peter’s Free Church in Dundee, said the posters produced jointly by the Scottish Government and Police Scotland were an ‘absolute contradiction’.
The posters are part of the One Scotland campaign promoting a ‘truly inclusive’ society ‘where equality and human rights are respected and every individual and minority group feels valued’, the campaign website says.
The Police Scotland website describes hate crime as ‘any criminal offence committed against an individual or property that is motivated by a person’s hatred of someone because of his or her actual or perceived race, religion, transgender identity, sexual orientation or disability’.
The One Scotland posters display messages warning that people who commit hate crimes will be reported to the police. The accompanying campaign website includes a tab that allows visitors to report suspected hate crimes.
While the website identifies verbally abusing people for their religious beliefs as an example of a hate c
rime, one of the campaign posters suggests bigots are people of faith.
The “Dear Bigots”poster reads: “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 you spreading your intolerance.”
The message on the poster is signed off: “End of sermon. Yours, Scotland.”
Robertson has now reported the poster to the Scottish police, saying that it actually encourages hate against Christians.
“By your own criteria your posters, especially the one on religion is a hate incident. I perceive it as being motivated by hate and prejudice,” he said.
“Why? In my day-to-day life I experience a great deal of anti-Christian prejudice, fuelled by ignorance and prejudice. Your poster will just add to that. You imply that it is religious people who are responsible for what you call homophobia and transphobia.”
Robertson said he regularly receives hate mail for his Christian views and said that the prejudice against Christians had reached the point where some are ‘scared’ to admit going to church.
“Your poster only legitimises these attitudes and that hatred. It is based on ignorance and prejudice,’ he said.
“The language of the poster is that of hatred, anger, prejudice, exclusion and intimidation. There is within it the implicit threat, if not of violence, at least of criminal prosecution.
“The poster is designed quite deliberately to mock and to stir up prejudice against religious people but especially Christians.”
He added: “At best what you are doing is virtue signalling – at worst it encourages hateful behaviour. You don’t encourage love by promoting hatred of religion.”
Christian Concern has created three alternative posters defending freedom of speech and telling One Scotland that “stereotyping religious people as hateful bigots is deeply disturbing – even hateful”.