“One Scotland” is a campaign by the Scottish government to tackle bigotry, prejudice, and hatred in Scotland. The website of “One Scotland” bears the logo of the Scottish government and boasts that its aim is to promote a “fairer Scotland.” In conjunction with the Scottish police, “One Scotland” actively encourages members of the public to “report hate crimes.” The website of the Scottish Police states:
Did you know that “Hate Crime” is any criminal offence committed against an individual or property that is motivated by a person’s hatred of someone because of his or her actual or perceived race, religion, transgender identity, sexual orientation or disability? “Hate Crime” is wrong, it is against the law, and everyone has the right to live safely and without fear. No two individuals are ever the same—embrace individuality and help put an end to “Hate crime” by reporting it.
The Scottish Police made their feelings very clear with a series of posters throughout the cities and towns of Scotland. I quote a sample of these posters.
Dear transphobes, do you think it is right to harass people in the street?. Well, we don’t. That’s why if we see you doing harm, we’re reporting you. We believe people should be allowed to be themselves. Except if they’re spreading hate. Yours, Scotland.
Dear homophobes, we have a phobia of your behaviour. If you torment people because of who they love.you should be worried. If we see or hear your abuse, we’re calling the police. That’s because love lives in this country, not hate. Yours, Scotland.
Dear bigots, division seems to be what you believe in. We don’t want your religious hate on our buses, on our streets and in our communities. We don’t want you spreading your intolerance.. You may not have faith in respect and love, but we do. That’s why if we see you, we’re reporting you. End of sermon. Yours, Scotland.
And perhaps the most sinister of all: “Dear bigots, you can’t spread your religious hatred here. End of sermon. Yours, Scotland.”2 Each poster concludes with the statement, “Hate crime. Report it to stop it” with the logos of “Police Scotland,” “Safer Scotland: Scottish Government,” and the website “onescotland.org.” Notice that the targets of these posters are “transphobes,” “homophobes,” and (religious) “bigots,” and that they purport to speak for all Scots: “Yours, Scotland.”
David Robertson, minister of St. Peter’s Free Church of Scotland, Dundee, found the last poster particularly offensive, so offensive that he decided to report it as a hate crime to the Scottish police! Robertson deemed the poster with its reference to “religious hate” and “end of sermon” an expression of animosity against religious people, and Christians in particular. In his complaint to the authorities on October 3, 2018, Robertson quotes from the Police Scotland website, which states, “A hate incident is any incident that is not a criminal offence, but something which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hate or prejudice” (emphasis added). Based on the police’s own definition, the “Dear bigots” poster constitutes a hate incident, if not a hate crime. Robertson writes, “I perceive it as being motivated by hate and prejudice,” and includes in his complaint examples of nasty correspondence that he has received from secularists. Robertson fears that a poster campaign targeting “religious bigots” will stir up further hostility against religious people, especially church-going Christians.
Another Christian gentleman, this time Mr. John Allman from Devon, England, also complained to the Scottish police on October 3, 2018:
A publicly-displayed poster, apparently published jointly by Police Scotland, contains unmistakeable hate speech which is directed against all members of any faith community, including my own (Christian) faith community.
The poster thus insinuates that we who are “religious” are “bigots” for proselytising. It characterises the Christian gospel (and any other religious creed for that matter) as “hate.” The poster is an attempt to intimidate people of faith into believing that the police have the power to silence us, if we dare seek to share our faith (referred to as our “hate”) with others, for example by preaching, anywhere in Scotland.
The offensive poster, which is itself an undisguised incitement to hatred of religious people, and is therefore itself a hate crime, bears the logo of Police Scotland. The poster not only accuses preachers of the gospel of spreading “hate,” it also implies that such preaching is a criminal offence. (Is it?)
The poster seems to be calculated to make Scots feel intimidated who have a religious belief they might wish to spread. It makes potential visitors to Scotland wary of setting foot in so intolerant a country of the United Kingdom. It will inevitably make people of faith feel unwelcome in Scotland, even if they were born there.3
After initial email correspondence from Police Scotland, Mr. Allman received a letter from the “Superintendent of Safer Communities,” David Pettigrew, on October 26, 2018:
I understand from your correspondence, however, that you perceive some of the campaign material, to target those of faith. Furthermore, you request that a hate incident be raised based on your perception….Ordinarily, the perception of the victim or any other person is the defining factor, in determining whether an incident is hate related for recording purposes….Given that the campaign was delivered to raise awareness of hate crime, I am content in the certainty that the motivation of the campaign is not based on malice or ill will towards any social group. I can therefore confirm that the circumstances will not be recorded as hate related and that no further action will be taken in respect of this matter.
Police Scotland also responded to Robertson, as reported on his blog on October 31, 2018. The typically bureaucratic answer includes this paragraph (emphasis added):
Police Scotland has assessed the circumstances you raise. The motivation of the Scottish government is not based on malice or ill will towards any social group; therefore, the circumstances will not be recorded as hate related. Details of your correspondence have been recorded and the content passed to the Scottish Government Connected Communities Unit. No further action will be taken in respect of this matter.
The Chief Superintendent, John McKenzie, “Head of Safer Communities” added, in response to a query from the press, that it would be “inappropriate” to comment on “personal correspondence” and that “Police Scotland welcomes correspondence and communication with members of the public.”
Robertson expressed his dissatisfaction at the official response on his blog and informed his readers that he would be taking the matter further:
The police have made a public campaign which implies that hatred stems from “religious” people and those who preach sermons. I have made a public response—my letter is public and the press are involved. Instead of answering the complaint the Chief Superintendent makes these two inane comments.
There is no point in “welcoming” letters from the public if you are just going to throw them in the bin or answer them with platitudes and inanities. The fact is that your own law says that it is the perception of the “victim” that turns something into a hate incident. I think that’s unworkable and illogical but you clearly don’t. So the question that the public needs answered is why that law/principle only applies in some cases and why the police and government are exempt from their own laws? My perception, and that of many others, is that your poster campaign is motivated (at least in part) by hatred of religion—or at least those religious views which contradict the doctrines of the State. What gives you the right to determine that the perceptions of some are invalid but the perceptions of others get reported as hate incidents? In effect you are making a farce of the law and playing politics. You are determining that some groups are hate victims and others hate perpetrators.
The police should get on with solving crimes not creating them. It’s time for you to get out of politics and do the job that you are paid to do. Stop funding and running political campaigns and using your overstretched officers for this purpose. Stop demonising and criminalising members of the public who disagree with the philosophy of the political elites. Get on with catching real criminals. Please.
Robertson is, of course, exactly on point. He exposes the absurd, unworkable, and inconsistently applied standard for “hate crimes” and “hate incidents.” There are plenty of examples in the post-Christian West of believers being investigated because of their “perceived” hatred of certain people guilty of sexual sins (so-called “homo- and transphobes”). Many of these incidents rest on the believer’s sincerely held, and even politely expressed, view that certain sexual behaviours and orientations are sinful. That is anathema to the modern, secular State. The only intolerance allowed in our modern age of “tolerance” and “openness” is intolerance of Christianity, whether of Christian doctrines or of Christian morality. Every other intolerance, perceived or otherwise, is increasingly becoming criminalized.
Christians oppose hatred. Our Lord taught us to love our neighbors and even our enemies. The sixth commandment forbids that I should “dishonour, hate, wound, or kill” my neighbor, whether in “thoughts,” “words,” “gestures,” or in “deeds” (Heidelberg Catechism, A. 105). Nevertheless, Christians must exercise love according to the biblical definition. Love seeks the welfare of the neighbor, especially his spiritual welfare. Love seeks the welfare of the neighbor whose “sexual orientation” is sinful or whose “transgender identity” is contrary to God’s revealed will by calling that neighbor to repentance and proclaiming to him the gospel of Jesus Christ, which gospel includes the good news that Christ not only forgives sin, but also transforms sinners, all kinds of sinners, by the power of His grace. To erstwhile homosexuals Paul wrote, “And such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. 6:11).
No matter how kindly and gently you explain that to a homosexual or transgender person, the Scottish Police could very likely record your statement as “a hate incident” or even view you as guilty of a “hate crime.” Robertson is correct: the role of the police is to catch real criminals (murderers, rapists, thieves, burglars, abusers, and the like) and not seek to criminalize citizens’ speech or even thoughts. Jesus—not Police Scot- land—rules over our thoughts, words, and deeds: “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col. 4:6). “But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:36).
4 https://theweeflea.com. Mr. Allman is also not satisfied with the official response: “I intend to ask for figures eventually, under the Freedom of Information Act, indicating how many reports of hate crime have been made to Police Scotland, against Police Scotland.” Presumably, in the light of this decision, the answer I shall receive will be “none.” But that will be a lie, an artefact of the manifestly unlawful decision not to include in the hate crime and incident report statistics any or all of the reports in which the perpetrator of the hate crime or hate incident reported was Police Scotland itself?”