Letter: Fundamentalists in South Tyneside

It’s weird how national current events sometimes neatly intersect with local news.  On Wednesday 3rd February the Gazette asked it’s readers if the Pope was right to comment on the UK’s equality laws.  Whilst you can’t take internet polls seriously, the result suggested that respondents didn’t like the idea of religion poking its nose in and twisting our civil rights to suit its own ideology.

Two days later the Gazette gave the equivalent of a full page advertisement for the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), a church which has equally medieval attitudes to equality.  This church was one of several organisations behind a 2006 campaign to block equal employment rights, which, like the Pope, attempted to influence UK law to allow churches to treat gay, lesbian and transgendered employees as second class citizens.

The RCCG promotes a fundamentalist biblical interpretation that “pleasure, godlessness and homosexuality” are sinful, and even attempts to ‘cure’ gay people in bizarre exorcism rituals.  The church has built it’s growth on the generous donations of its adherents, and is spreading with all the zeal and efficiency of a fast food franchise.

If it wasn’t bad enough that the Gazette gave an uncritical view of the RCCG, local community centres like Brinkburn Community Association are allowing such bigoted and divisive beliefs to flourish in the heart of our communities.  Publicly funded community centres shouldn’t act as recruiting offices for religious fundamentalism; they are supposed tobring people together.

Letter published in the Shields Gazette.

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