Mr. Johnston is highly critical of Roman Catholicism: "It doesn’t matter what my church comes round to accept it’s what’s in the Bible and it tells you that God will give them up for their evil imaginations. I think Roman Catholicism is terrible, it’s wrong and it’s not me that condemns it, it’s the Bible. I would be disappointed if my children were like that, I wouldn’t turn my back on them but I wouldn’t tell them it was right because it’s not. I would rebuke them for that, I would tell them to move away from their evil ways. I hope I never have that to do. Roman Catholicism is obnoxious to our holy God and mixed marriages are very sad,"Alright then, probably not that surprised there are those within the political Unionist Establishment who hold those views, more surprised that he’s come out of the closest, as it were, with them. In the Northern Ireland of 2010, it wouldn’t be acceptable to a large majority of the population and he or she would get hammered for expressing them, both in the MSM and online and rightly so.
But Bert Johnston did use those exact words about another minority- replace "Roman Catholicism" with "homosexuality", "mixed" with "gay" and you have verbatim what he said to Rodney Edwards of The Impartial Reporter this week. OK,you might argue those views are an integral part of his version of "Christianity" and that even bigotted oul culchie councillors are entitled to "freedom of speech". If so, have a read of this from Andrew Sullivan, probably the best blogger presently operating in the US and someone who happily describes himself a gay Christian:
I don't believe in hate crimes laws, but I passionately believe in prosecuting these kinds of attacks to the fullest extent of the law. I also want to ask, plead, and beg those who have sincere and principled arguments against, say, marriage equality or openly gay military service, to be mindful of the impact of their words.And, as if to emphasise that last point, this from Belgrade, this very afternoon:
I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of those on the other side of the debate are as horrified by these events as I am. I am not in any way saying otherwise, or in any way suggesting indirect responsibility for horrors such as these.
What I am saying is that in making these arguments, people need to take care to ensure that they also insist that gay people are always described as human beings, as worthy of respect and dignity as anyone else, that the case for keeping us out of core civil institutions must be made without inflammatory generalizations about gay people, generalizations that have an impact, especially on those only waiting for an excuse from authority to act, or those deeply confused and afraid of who they find themselves to be in adolescence.
For too long, gay people have been described by too many on the right as a threat to the family, society and decency. Those words have consequences. This is especially true of religious leaders. When even the Pope describes us as "intrinsically disordered" and directed to an "objective moral evil", when Republicans call us a threat to family life, when NOM runs ads of a "storm coming", I hope they understand what these words do to the psyches and souls of the young and impressionable, and to those who need a mere signal to take up arms and attack us.
Serbian police have clashed with protesters trying to disrupt a Gay Pride parade in the capital, Belgrade.Now, there is an enormous gulf between the likes of Bert Johnston and the kind of people who tortured those homosexuals in the Bronx and the fascist thugs petrol-bombing the Gay Pride parade today in Belgrade but what Sullivan said is also so true that it’s worth repeating a second time:
Police used tear gas against the rioters, who threw petrol bombs and stones at armed officers and tried to break through a security cordon.
A garage attached to the headquarters of the ruling Democratic Party was briefly set on fire, and at least one shot was fired at the building.
At least 50 people were injured, most reported to be police officers.
A number of people were arrested.
This was the first Gay Pride parade in Serbia since a march in 2001 was broken up in violent clashes provoked by far-right extremists.
While the Gay Pride parade was moving though the city, several hundred protesters began chanting at those taking part as they tried to get close to the march.
"The hunt has begun," the AFP news agency reported them as saying. "Death to homosexuals."
For too long, gay people have been described by too many on the right as a threat to the family, society and decency. Those words have consequences.