In an interview with The Courier, atheist Ian Stewart is claiming that if and when Scotland’s hate law is passed, he is hoping to use the legislation to target Christians and even the Bible in Scotland.
Stewart told The Courier:
“…it will enable the prosecution of all Scotland’s religions and their Holy Books for spreading hatred.”
According to The Christian Institute, the legislation entitled Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Bill is so vaguely written that an individual such as Stewart may have a chance to have the Bible and other religious literature banned.
Speaking on behalf of The Christian Institute, spokesman Simon Calvert said:
The threshold of the proposed offences is so low, that Mr. Stewart might well be able to persuade a police officer that certain Bible verses or sermons are ‘hate crimes.’ Does the Scottish Government really want to expose church ministers to the risk of prosecution at the instigation of anti-religious zealots?
The law, in its current form, criminalizes any speech or written word that is “likely to stir up hatred” against certain groups. However, the word “likely” is so vague that it would not require proof that it actually did or even intended to “stir up hatred” in order for someone to be prosecuted under the law.
The bill has been widely criticized in Britain because it is fundamentally an attack on free speech. Many, including popular British comedian, Rowan Atkinson, (Mr. Bean) have publicly come out against the proposed legislation.
This is also why a secular group, the National Secular Society, has joined with The Christian Institute in a campaign “Free to Disagree” to oppose the Bill.
Calvert added his biggest concern that the word ‘hatred’ has become so politicized, that the legislation could be used to shut down any conservative view points that someone disagrees with. People could accuse anyone they want requiring the police to investigate. Even if there are no criminal charges, such investigations are often enough intimidation to stifle free speech.
“The Bill says you only have to show that the words are ‘abusive’ and ‘likely to stir up hatred’ for an offence to be proved. In the current political climate, all kinds of legitimate speech gets tagged as ‘abusive’ and ‘hatred’ by cynical activists who are just trying to shut down debate.”
The bill proposed by Scotland’s ruling left-wing Scottish National Party is currently being reviewed by the government’s justice committee and is expected to pass this stage sometime in December.
READ: Scottish Hate Crime Bill: Atheists plan to target Christians for ‘spreading hate’ AND Atheist activist applauds Scotland’s hate crime Bill for its potential to criminalise religious groups AND Atheist intends to criminalise Bible if Scot hate crime Bill is passed