Monday, August 30, 2010

Greenbelt Christian festival hosts Peter Tatchell

Three talks this weekend in Cheltenham

Boycott call by Anglican Mainstream is a flop

Ticket sales boosted by evangelical distortions and slurs

Latest Anglican Mainstream smear campaign is shameful

London - 26 August 2010

Calls for a boycott of the Christian arts festival, Greenbelt, have flopped. The boycott campaign was orchestrated by leading consultant with Anglican Mainstream, the Church of England's conservative and traditionalist wing.

Dr Lisa Nolland, in an appeal posted on the Anglican Mainstream website earlier this year, called on Christians to stay away from this weekend's festival in protest at the decision by the organisers to host three talks by gay rights and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

Undeterred by their failure to rouse significant Christian support for a boycott, Anglican Mainstream last week promoted another series of misleading attacks on Mr Tatchell:

Earlier this year, Ms Nolland said that inviting Mr Tatchell to Greenbelt will put children at risk of sexual abuse.

See the Church of England Newspaper report below.

"The suggestion that my guest lectures at Greenbelt will leave children vulnerable to sexual abuse is a sordid slur, unworthy of a Christian," said Mr Tatchell, who has previously spoken at Greenbelt and received an overwhelmingly warm and positive reception from packed out religious audiences.

"My Greenbelt talks are not about teen sexuality, sex education or the age of consent. They are about vegetarianism, animal liberation, environmental protection and the persecution of gay people in Africa.

"Homophobic oppression in many parts of Africa is being orchestrated by Christian evangelicals, especially in countries like Uganda, Malawi and Nigeria. They share Anglican Mainstream's harsh, fundamentalist interpretation of scripture.

"I will be praising the courageous, inspiring defence of gay human rights by some African Christian leaders, such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Bishop Christopher Senyonjo of Uganda, who has been hounded and cast out by the Anglican Church of Uganda.

"Dr Nolland's latest attack on the Anglican Mainstream website, on 18 August, gives a distorted, biased and unbalanced account of my beliefs:

"She delights in partial, selective quotes that misrepresent my stated opinions. Some of what she says infers guilt by association. Attacking me, she quotes the statements of others on sex with children, despite the fact that I disagree with what they say. These are McCarthyite-style smears and insinuations.

"Lisa and her Anglican Mainstream friends should reread the Ten Commandments, where it warns against bearing false witness.

"I am happy to debate with anyone from Anglican Mainstream. I await their invitation.

"Until she was criticised, Dr Nolland ignored my human rights work on global poverty, disarmament and anti-racism, and my support for the democratic struggles in Zimbabwe, Burma, Iran, Russia, Baluchistan and Uganda. She initially failed to mention a word about my condemnation of the persecution of Christians in countries like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and my opposition to the prosecution of homophobic street preachers like Harry Hammond, Shawn Holes and Dale McApline.

"Lisa Nolland presented a selective and distorted account of my essay on sex education. She neglected to mention my advocacy of a sexual moral framework of mutual consent, respect and fulfilment, and my proposals to help protect young people against sex abuse.

"Why does Anglican Mainstream ignore the ethical dimensions of my writings and campaigns?"

"Nevertheless, I would like to thank Anglican Mainstream for helping encourage extra interest in Greenbelt; resulting in more people now planning to attend this year's festival because of the controversy and publicity over my invitation.

"I'm looking forward to meeting the many Christians who are actively involved in campaigns for human rights, equality, democracy and social justice. We have more in common than divides us.

"I hope to offer some challenging ideas, and in turn be challenged by the audience. During the question and answer sessions, I'll be very happy to accept criticisms and counter-arguments. I welcome debate," said Mr Tatchell.

Dr Nolland's posting on the Anglican Mainstream website (12 May 2010), reiterates her earlier opposition to Mr Tatchell being an invited speaker at Greenbelt and concludes with this comment:

"Would a committed racist, pimp or Moslem with four wives and twenty-one children be put in the 2010 Greenbelt line-up if their poetry or art was unexcelled or their science was solving the problem of world hunger?"

This is what Ms Nolland claims Peter Tatchell is advocating for sex education in schools:

This is the full account, including the moral perspectives, of what he wrote in his chapter in the book, Teenage Sex - What should schools teach children?:

This is Dr Nolland's version of an interview that Peter Tatchell conducted on under-age sex and child sex abuse:

This is the full account of Mr Tatchell's interview with 14 year-old Lee. It is not an advocacy or approval of his sexual relationships with older men, but merely a reportage of Lee's perspective:

More information: Peter Tatchell - 0207 403 1790

News report Church of England Newspaper

By Toby Cohen, 6 May 2010

BOYCOTT GREENBELT if you want to safeguard vulnerable children, said an Anglican Mainstream consultant after her concerns over the presence of Peter Tatchell at this year's festival were ignored.

Dr Lisa Nolland wrote an open letter to the festival organisers complaining about "the further gayification of Greenbelt," following the invitation of the gay rights campaigner, which she saw as compounding damage done by inviting the Bishop of New Hampshire, the Rt Rev Gene Robinson, to speak last year.

Dr Nolland wrote: "We are very concerned and alarmed. We would like to meet with you because we believe this is damaging to both Christian witness and the health of the nation. "Both Gene Robinson and Peter Tatchell are bad news for the church and for Greenbelt. Greenbelt does much that is good and even excellent. Why spoil it with such as this? "In the light of the above, I would very much appreciate an explanation of your invitation to Peter Tatchell for 2010, given your invitation to Gene Robin- son in 2009. "You will recall the specific concerns we raised about ensuring that equal airtime was given to orthodox Christian perspectives. On the face of it seems that our concerns have fallen on deaf ears."

Anglican Mainstream has posted a response from the festival on its website, which reads: "Each year Greenbelt hosts speakers with varying and sometimes contrasting views on a whole range of subjects. At any one time, we also ensure there are a range of lineup items that which they feel comfortable with."

Dr Nolland told The Church of England Newspaper that this statement was disingenuous. Not only did she decry the absence of a speaker who could present "the orthodox Biblical position on sexual ethics," she also suspected that the liberal campaigners were denying the voice of less palatable sexualities who might taint their case.

Dr Nolland said: "If Greenbelt actually wanted to have a really open honest discussion about all this, I'd have a far easier time with it. But instead - they talk about how they include and accept all and all are welcomed etc - that's rubbish. There are all sorts of orientations out there who say 'look, LGBT people are doing to us what straight people did to them for centuries'.

Once the campaigners are accepted, they will then start leading Christians further astray, Dr Nolland fears. Illustrating how far this could go, she pointed to an interview Mr Tatchell conducted with a 14- year-old boy, 'Lee', who was sexually active with older men from the age of 12 and suggests that we should rethink our attitudes towards paedophilia.

Dr Nolland said that attending the festival will leave children more vulnerable to sexual abuse, because of Mr Tatchell's erosion of boundaries, "particularly if they are told we need to question - explore, try this, try that, try 200 things later on, explore your sexuality - that's actually a really bad idea".

Mr Tatchell is currently in Australia attending a family funeral, and no one from Greenbelt was available to comment.

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