Evangelicals in stand against The Sun's topless page 3

Steve Clifford is asking Christians to take a stand against The Sun's page 3

The Evangelical Alliance has today expressed its support for a campaign demanding that tabloid newspaper The Sun ends its daily display of topless women.

"There is no way having naked women featured in a 'family' newspaper can be seen as good for society," said Steve Clifford, the general director of the Alliance.

It comes a day after The Sun moved the topless images from the inside page to the front cover yesterday in support of breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel! and its 'Check 'em Tuesday' campaign.

The Alliance's head of supporter relations, Sue Wilmot, who will shortly be undergoing reconstructive surgery following successful treatment for breast cancer, said: "As a breast cancer survivor, I am passionate about raising awareness among women both within and outside the Church of the importance of performing regular checks.

"While I hope many women will be reminded of this through the Sun's campaign, I am concerned about the tactics the newspaper has used and their attempts to re-brand their increasingly unpopular page 3 girl feature.

"I hope that they might respond to the reaction from our members and thousands of others by no longer using these over-sexualised images of young women."

Clifford sent an email today to every single church leader affiliated with the Alliance, encouraging them to sign the petition hosted by nomorepage3.org

"As evangelical Christians we believe that we are all made in the image of God and that our bodies are a product of God's amazing design, not to be ogled at or objectified," he said.

"We recognise that historically the Church has not always been great at advocating for women, but given its recent defiance it is a time for us to tell The Sun newspaper that enough is enough.

"We believe in the inherent dignity of all human beings and are passionate about working together for a society that says no to objectification.

"As the largest organisation representing evangelical Christians in the UK we are rallying our troops to lend their weight to the campaign."

The petition was launched in August 2012, and has so far gathered more than 136,000 signatures, averaging over 200 signatures per day.

The petition, entitled "Take the bare boobs out of The Sun", argues that the normality of the Sun's pornographic content is an illusion born out of tradition rather than anything sensible.

Pointing to other news providers, the petition calls on the Sun's Editor, David Dinsmore to see how anomalous and ridiculous the inclusion of pornographic images in his newspaper is.

"George Alagiah doesn't say, 'And now let's look at Courtney, 21, from Warrington's bare breasts,' in the middle of the 6 o' clock news, does he, David?" it states.

"Philip and Holly don't flash up pictures of Danni, 19, from Plymouth, in just her pants and a necklace, on This Morning, does he, David?  There would be an outcry.

"Consider this a long overdue outcry.  Stop showing topless pictures of young women in Britain's most widely read newspaper.  Stop conditioning your readers to view women as sex objects."

Ruth Gilson, executive director of Girls' Brigade International and vice-chair of the Evangelical Alliance board, said: "We dream of a day in which girls and women are not objectified and where they are not measured solely on how 'sexy' they are.

"We call on The Sun to ditch its poor attitude towards women and commit to highlighting the equality of the sexes."

In previous research by EA member the Girl's Brigade, 70 per cent of its members agreed that The Sun's page 3 section had had a negative impact on their self esteem.

Tthe severity of the issue is not only a matter of mental health. Lynne Featherstone, the government's international development minister, argued in 2012 that there was a link between pornographic material and violence against women.

Explaining the link, she said in the Independent: "It's about the constant drip, drip of women being sexualised in the public space [which] has a great bearing on attitudes and domestic violence."

Expanding on Ms Featherstone's comments, Women's Aid's deputy chief executive Nicki Norman told Huffington Post UK that "While domestic violence isn't caused directly by page 3, violence against women is a cause and consequence of women's inequality.

"The page 3 phenomenon is one example of how women are objectified in the media and sends out a strong message that they should not be valued or respected."

Other groups supporting the No More Page 3 campaign include Mumsnet, UK Girl Guiding, the End Violence Against Women Coalition, the Everyday Sexism Project, Rape Crisis, UNISON, the Royal College of Nursing, the National Union of Teachers, and the National Assembly of Wales.

Notable celebrities supporting the campaign include singer Eliza Doolittle, comedian and actress Jennifer Saunders, actress Gemma Chan, and Times journalist Caitlin Moran who recently tweeted that "Teenage t*** aren't news OR a feature".

Green Party MP Caroline Lucas is also a noted supporter of the campaign. In June 2013 she was reprimanded by the House of Commons for wearing a "No To Page Three" T-shirt, violating Parliament's dress code.