Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has apologised for visiting a church that upholds biblical beliefs about sexual ethics.
Starmer had released a video on Good Friday praising the Jesus House church in Brent, North London, for allowing its premises to be used as a vaccination centre.
But later, LGBT activists within the Labour Party forced him to apologise because of the church’s beliefs on homosexuality.
Starmer removed the video from his social media channels and tweeted, ‘I completely disagree with Jesus House’s beliefs on LGBT+ rights, which I was not aware of before my visit.
‘I apologise for the hurt my visit caused and have taken down the video. It was a mistake and I accept that.’
Writing in The Spectator, Brendan O’Neill called the apology ‘an insult’, and hit out at the decision to delete the video, which had praised the church for its tireless efforts in helping the local community.
He commented, ‘The Christians at Jesus House are guilty of nothing more than holding traditional Christian beliefs. Just look at the coverage of this daft controversy. “Keir Starmer criticised over visit to church where pastor opposed same-sex marriage”, says the Guardian’s headline. In other words, “Starmer criticised for visiting a Christian church that adheres to Christian doctrine”.’
The church says it has been hounded by activists online, and Pastor Agu Irukwu said the reaction has been ‘upsetting’.
‘As a child growing up in a Commonwealth nation, one aspect of Great Britain which I found most admirable was its promotion of strong values, including fairness and justice,’ he said.
‘Over the past 48 hours, I have been disturbed to see these values eroded, especially in the courtroom of social media; we have felt prosecuted, judged, and sentenced unfairly.
‘Some of the language that has been directed at us can only be described as vile, abusive, hateful, and possibly criminal.
‘It is tantamount to cyberbullying and the timing of this attack during Easter, one of the most important events in the Christian calendar, was particularly upsetting for us as a congregation.’