For the most part, born-again Christians in Europe aren’t as hidebound as their counterparts here in the States. I know from experience; for the last seven years I’ve attended a church planted and led by Brits whose slogan is “real, relational, religion free.” But there are a few who seem to take their cue from our religious right. Case in point–a Christianist group in the UK that saw fit to trash an Olympic swimmer on Twitter.
Back in 2013, British diver Tom Daley revealed that he was gay. Watch his announcement here.
He has been in a relationship with American director Dustin Lance Black since the spring of 2013; the two were engaged in 2015.
Daley started out well in Rio; he won a bronze medal in synchronized diving while teamed with Daniel Goodfellow. However, he came up well short of qualifying for the finals in the individual 10m platform. It was all the more shocking since at the previous day’s preliminaries, he ran up the highest score in Olympic history.
When Christian Voice, a small hyperfundamentalist outfit in the UK, found out about Daley’s pratfall in Rio, it couldn’t resist the urge to stick out its collective tongue.
— Christian Voice (@UKCV) August 20, 2016
It’s not the first time that Christian Voice–or more accurately, Christianist Voice–has slimed Daley. When Daley came out in 2013, Christian Voice national director Stephen Green suggested that Black had seduced him into the gay lifestyle. His evidence? Black is more than double Daley’s age. He is only two years younger than Daley’s father, who died in 2011 at the age of 40. This is a new gloss on an old Christianist shibboleth–“they don’t reproduce, they recruit.”
When J. K. Rowling saw this ugly tweet from Christianist Voice, she let them have it.
Can't decide which is more offensive in this tweet, the stupidity or the spite. https://t.co/ksqZp17drc
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) August 20, 2016
Apparently Rowling wasn’t the only one. Raw Story noticed that a number of Rowling’s fans around the world joined in and gave Christianist Voice an earful. Here’s a sample, culled from both Raw Story and the New Civil Rights Movement.
@UKCV I'm a (moderately conservative) evangelical minister, and I'm horrified by that tweet. What were they thinking?
— Alistair (@AlistairMay) August 20, 2016
I'm trying to think back to my Sunday school lessons that taught hate your neighbour, oh no wait, there was't one.
— Karla (@KarlaGeorge) August 20, 2016
@UKCV Oh, yeah. I *turned* gay like Remus turned into a werewolf. ? Definitely the stupidity.
— Ardit Haliti (@ardit_haliti) August 20, 2016
— Vadim Dovganyuk (@SnowCalmth) August 21, 2016
@UKCV how they can call themselves "loving Christians" yet be so bitter and spiteful is beyond me. Religion does not = hate.??
— Lee-Mc (@MylifeinwordsUK) August 21, 2016
Apparently Christianist Voice didn’t get the hint. In another blog post, Green harrumphed that Daley brought this on himself by touting his relationship with Black. He also wagged his finger at Daley and Black for openly desiring to have a child, saying it would be “selfish” for Daley to “deprive a child of its mother.” Green also mused that if Daley walked away from the gay lifestyle, “his diving might improve as a result.”
Change the accent and the spelling, and Green would be a dead ringer for the likes of Bryan Fischer, Tony Perkins, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz. I suspect this kind of bilge is what one of my longtime friends from my church, a Swede, had in mind when she released an EP four years ago. Several of the songs on it are unmistakably Christian, though she opted not to identify as a Christian singer because of the stigma attached to Christianity. Sadly, much of that stigma seems to have made its way across the Atlantic, if Christianist Voice is any indication.