A Norwich pastor who sent Christian tracts, including one called Good news for gays, to a gay organisation is awaiting a decision by the Crown Prosecution Service on whether he will be prosecuted for homophobia.
But Rev. Dr Alan Clifford, who is pastor of Norwich Reformed Church, told Evangelical Times that he has received a lot of support. ‘Support is huge, even global. The Spectator article has done much good and brought immense encouragement’.
In a statement, he added: ‘Faith in God means I am not in deep shock. Huguenot Calvinists are not easily intimidated! I enjoy perfect peace, looking forward if necessary to the next stage to witness for Christ against the growing wickedness in our country’.
Dr Clifford sent the tracts in an open e-mail on 29 July, along with a report of a gay pride event he attended two days before. The e-mail was copied to the Norwich LGBT Project. In the report of the event, which he attended as part of a Christian witness with other church members, he referred to an ‘unashamed carnival of perverted carnality’.
Two weeks later, Dr Clifford was visited and interviewed by an officer after police received a complaint from Norwich LGBT about the tracts. Dr Clifford was given the choice of paying an on-the-spot fine of £90 or producing a signed statement in defence of his action.
He chose the latter. ‘I asked the officer that, “Since we are offended by their public display of homosexuality, could we not have made a complaint to the police?” He answered that we had such a right to complain. I then explained that we were perfectly within the law regarding our criticism of homosexuality’.
Quoting Lord Justice Sedley, Dr Clifford said, ‘Free speech includes not only the inoffensive, but the irritating, the contentious, the eccentric, the heretical, the unwelcome and provocative, provided that it does not tend to violence. Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having’.