Resisting oppressive hate crime laws will come at a cost

The much derided 'hate monster' widely advertised by the SNP.(Photo: Police Scotland)

Feminists in Scotland are closing ranks against the SNP's new hate crime law in Scotland, but how will orthodox Christians fare under the regime?

Harry Potter author JK Rowling, the most high-profile feminist campaigner against the legislation, has pledged on X to stand with any woman who is prosecuted for 'misgendering': "If they go after any woman for simply calling a man a man, I'll repeat that woman's words and they can charge us both at once." 

Thus far, no prominent Christian leader in Scotland has given a similar pledge if his or her fellow believers were prosecuted under the new law for standing up for unpopular biblical truth.

Scottish journalist and former Sunday Times editor, Andrew Neil, in his Daily Mail article on March 30, two days before the new law came into force on April 1, prescribed a dose of realism about the political climate in Scotland.

He wrote: "On Monday, Scotland enters a new Dark Age. It is entirely unnecessary and wholly self-inflicted...It will not be easily reversed. The Labour Party, which looks set to replace the SNP as the dominant party in both Holyrood and Westminster, voted for the SNP's new hate crime laws."

Scottish voters do not seem to care that much about the threat to freedom of speech from the triumphant Left. With Labour poised to win a landslide victory in this year's UK General Election, conservative writers in England like Douglas Murray and Peter Hitchens, and free speech campaigners like Toby Young and Will Jones, with their historical knowledge, surely realise that apathetic self-interest would rule if the Westminster government started locking up dissidents and that the protests would be few if they were imprisoned.

To take just the 20th Century as an example, the lack of popular resistance to Nazism in Germany, to Stalinism in Russia, and to Maoism in China surely teaches us that oppression goes largely unresisted in nations in which civic morality is at a low ebb.

Without making any unwarranted comparisons, it is important to remember that the Lord Jesus Christ was crucified by overwhelming popular demand. All four New Testament Gospels record the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, asking the Jerusalem crowd gathered outside the Praetorium for a popular mandate to have Jesus released. What was the solid consensus then? "Crucify him!"

The beautiful 17th century hymn by Samuel Crossman, My Song is Love Unknown, captures the timeless truth that the Gospels record: "Sometimes they strew His way, and His sweet praises sing: resounding all the day hosannas to their King. Then 'Crucify!' is all their breath, and for Hath they thirst and cry."

In a book which seems to have got fewer reads than a blog post by a politics student at the University of Bognor Regis, I tried to imagine myself as an 86-year-old retired vicar living in Britain in 2050 after the country had undergone a Christian revival.

I wrote in Christians in the Community of the Dome (Evangelical Press, 2017): "There is no question that society is changing due to the Revival. A new Prime Minister - a Muslim convert to Christianity as a student in the 2020s – got elected in 2045. Prime Minister Ali is a good man and has just been re-elected for a second term. Unfortunately, he's being obstructed rather in the House of Lords by the elderly secularists who still pack the benches in there but Lord willing that will change. King George is a committed Christian, so together they make a good team."

Secular history teaches that a Christian revival in a country even as demoralised as Britain is possible. Christianity spread in the deeply pagan Roman Empire and is spreading in Communist China. But in the meantime potential dissidents in the UK, Christian or otherwise, against the triumphant Left would surely be wise to count the cost of resistance. 

Julian Mann is a former Church of England vicar, now an evangelical journalist based in Lancashire.