FOLLOWING the revelation in the Freethinker yesterday that a Christian coffee shop in St Neots, Cambridgeshire, serves as a base for anti-gay activity – specifically in regard to Uganda’s notorious “Kill the Gays” bill – reaction to the news has been swift.
George Broadhead, of the UK gay charity, the Pink Triangle Trust, said he was appalled that Cornerstone, ostensibly a social organisation for Christians in the UK which claims to have been established “to love the Father, love one another, love our neighbour, and even to love our enemy” should be a hub of hatred towards gay people.
It is even more appalling that a UK-based organisation should attempt, through the direct efforts of its owner, the Rev Paul Shinners, to interfere with the democratic processes of a foreign country.
Shinners travelled to Uganda at the end of 2012 to speak at a “National Prayer Day and Night”, an event used by a band of Pentecostal preachers to demand that the “Kill the Gays” bill be introduced without further delay. Cornerstone even published a poster ahead of the event, which pictured Shinners among the event's hatemongers.
An even stronger reaction came from Melanie Nathan, who serves on the Marin Human Rights Commission in California.
On reading the Freethinker report, Commissioner Nathan wrote the following letter to Shinners:
I note your purposeful quest in supporting the Ugandan ‘Kill the Gays Bill’. It just strikes me as horrific that someone who purports to be a man of G-d would openly incite such violence on foreign soil. You ought to know better.
Mr Shinners, with all due respect, your support and call for passage of legislation that would kill people marks you as an accessory to the potential genocide that is likely to follow, not to mention the inciting of the current persecution that is already occurring. Gay people in Uganda are being persecuted, assaulted and tortured as we speak because of this rhetoric that you so freely hurl in your discourse and unfortunately in the name of Christianity. I do not believe that most Christians think in this fundamentalist way and most would be shocked at how you tout the name of Jesus with such vitriol and violent intent.
Mr Shinners, you are free to practice your religion and to preach to your heart's content. No one will ever dispute that nor take that away from you. However you are not free to preach harm and violence against others and that is what you have done and are continuing to do …
You have no right to preach about legislation that is against basic human rights standards and decency as expected of a British citizen either in his own country or around the globe.
I plan to explore with UK Justice Dept whether or not there is legislation similar to the US Alien Tort Act, under which we are currently suing Pastor Scott Lively in the US for his purposeful persecution of Ugandans on African soil, when he preached calling for their demise.
In essence you have done the same. Your name will also be submitted to the list of unwelcome gay haters in the USA, to join the likes of David Bahati, Martin Ssempa and others and I believe you may find that you will not be allowed travel privileges into the USA in the future.
To go to another country to tell them to kill people based on their sexuality is not what G-d wants by anyone's religious standards and you have taken it too far. I hope that you will find it in your heart to look at what you have done and to issue an apology to the LGBTI community of Uganda as well as to provide a written retraction of your support for the Bill. If you do I would be glad to publish it in a prominent publication.
In the meantime this letter to you sir, will be made public.
Commissioner, Marin Human Rights Commission, California, USA
PRIVATE COURTS, INC.
• The Freethinker urged people to mount a peaceful protest outside Cornerstone, and organise a boycott of the business, situated at 2-6 Cambridge Street, St Neots.