A Christian pastor received a death threat after saying he believed gay Pride events were “harmful for children”.
In his tweet on 1 June, Pastor Keith Waters, of Ely, Cambridgeshire, also suggested that Christians should refrain from taking part in Pride events because they were not aligned with Biblical teaching.
Expressing his concerns about Pride events, he said: “They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Christian faith and morals. They are especially harmful for children.”
Mr Waters says that a journalist turned up at his church before the Sunday service and tried to pressure him into apologising for his comments.
He says the online abuse started to grow after his comments were reported in the local newspaper, with one local Lib Dem councillor calling on Twitter for him to be investigated by police for a “hate incident”.
He says that he also experienced harassment on the streets of Ely, with his wife on one occasion opening the front door at the family home to find funeral directors who had been sent to “arrange his funeral”.
In another incident, he says he was nearly knocked off his bike by a local resident in her car who was angry about his comments.
He says he deleted the tweet out of fear for his family’s and his congregation’s safety.
However, he experienced further difficulty when his caretaker role at a local primary school was called into question.
He was investigated by the school over the tweet and when he was given a final warning for “bringing the school into disrepute” and breaking its code of conduct, he felt he had no choice but to resign.
He is now being supported by the Christian Legal Centre in suing the school for constructive dismissal, indirect discrimination and breach of public sector equality duty. He also believes that the school has interfered with his rights to freedom of religion, expression and thought.
Mr Waters said he was not criticising the LGBT community but the nature of Pride events.
“Anyone who believes in freedom of religion and expression should be very concerned about my story,” he said.
“This was an attack, not just against my Christian beliefs, but against anyone who dares to question these matters in public. The biggest concern should be that a story like mine is becoming normal.
“I maintain that my tweet did not discriminate against anyone. It was directed to Christians and it did not criticise individuals or the LGBT community, only Pride events. Other people have been mortified at how I have been treated but are too fearful to speak out.
“Children should never be exposed to nudity or sexual acts, whether that’s at Gay Pride or anywhere else. I am determined to fight for the freedom to say that, and believe that no one should lose or be forced out of their job for holding and expressing legitimate views.”
Commenting on the case, Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “Our schools and churches need more community-minded people like Pastor Keith Waters, not less. For sending one tweet, that raised genuine concern for children, Keith has been threatened, harassed and hounded out of his employment.
“This is not a local issue distinct to Ely, but a growing intolerant and threatening trend towards, not just Christians, but anyone across the country who dares to oppose Pride.
“Pastor Keith Waters is right to say that Christians should not attend gay Pride events as they are harmful to children. They often exhibit nudity and explicit displays of an overtly sexual nature that no child should have to see. If a Christian pastor can no longer say this publicly without receiving death threats, then we are living in very dangerous times.
“As we launch this case, we call on the Church to do more to protect courageous Christians like Keith Waters, and to speak publicly on how God’s good pattern of marriage between one man and one woman is a foundation for a healthy society.
“Celebrating sexual chaos and public immorality at gay Pride events is not good for anyone; it is not good for families or impressionable young children.”
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