Police warn pastor over Facebook post welcoming cancellation of Pride event
A Cornwall pastor has been warned by police that he could be breaking the law after he wrote on Facebook that he was glad the local gay Pride event had been cancelled.
On 13 August, Pastor Josh Williamson wrote "Wonderful news!" in the comments below a local news outlet's Facebook post reporting that Cornwall Pride had been cancelled.
When another Facebook user asked why the news was wonderful, Pastor Williamson responded, "Because I don't think sin should be celebrated."
The 34-year-old then wrote a longer response on his personal Facebook page, where he wrote: "Hallelujah!! We prayed at our prayer meeting on Tuesday night that this event would be cancelled. We also prayed that the Lord would save the organisers. One prayer answered, now we wait for the second prayer to be answered."
Following his comments, Pastor Williamson and his wife received threats of violence, and calls were made for his church to be burnt down.
Critics also threatened to protest at his Sunday services, and seek to have the church's charity status revoked and Pastor Williamson deported to his native Australia.
Devon and Cornwall Police - a sponsor of Cornwall Pride - told him his Facebook comments could be breaking the law. They also suggested to Williamson, pastor of Newquay Baptist Church, that he confine his views to a "safe environment", says the Christian Legal Centre, which is assisting him.
The organisation said police also told him not to offend anyone in the LGBT community in future to avoid breaking the law.
Pastor Williamson said: "My family and I, and our church community, have been very concerned by the level of anti-Christian abuse and threats of violence that we have been targeted with over the past few weeks.
"As Christians we seek to speak the truth in love and would readily welcome all people to our services. The Bible, however, proclaims a message of repentance which calls on all people to turn from their sin and to trust in Christ.
"It would be unloving for us to remain silent about what God's Word says in relation to human sin, including all forms of sexual sin. We therefore, must proclaim the truth that homosexuality is a sin, but that God loves sinners and Jesus can forgive all our sins.
"Newquay Baptist Church is made up of sinners who have been forgiven by a wonderful Saviour; since this is the case, we would invite all people, including the LGBT community, to come to our services. Our desire is that all would come to know and love Jesus."
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: "It's becoming worryingly common in the UK to see threats and calls for violence against Christians for voicing their simple opposition to LGBT Pride.
"Police forces should show Christians they take this seriously by protecting their free speech against mob threats rather than by seeking to keep Christians quiet.
"Christians are called to repay evil with good – I have no doubt that Pastor Williamson will continue to share the reality of sin and the good news of Jesus Christ with the people of Newquay."