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The National (Scotland)
The National (Scotland)
Ross Hunter

Homophobic and sexist leaflets being distributed in Midlothian

The leaflet calls homosexuality a 'sexual perversion' and claims a husband has dominion over his wife

A CHURCH in Midlothian is distributing thousands of leaflets which promote homophobic and anti-abortion views.

The Free Baptist Church has been posting leaflets through the doors of people in Loanhead and Penicuik which call homosexuality a “sexual perversion” and transgender people an “abomination”.

The leaflets also claim that those who perform abortions should be “surely punished” and that the physical discipline of children is permissible, despite being illegal in Scotland.

The church is based at Midlothian Innovation Centre in Roslin and is led by Pastor Benjamin Shore, who moved to Scotland from the USA with his family in 2010.

He claims to have printed 10,000 of the leaflets and is continuing to distribute them around the Midlothian area.

Veteran Cliff Purvis received the leaflet at his home in Loanhead. 

He said: "It disturbs me that this intolerance is being distributed in Scotland in general and in my area in particular. 

"I have seen intolerance at its most rancid whilst on a UN Tour in Bosnia 1993 and as a result of that I will never stand idle whilst someone attempts it here."

The SNP MP for the region, Owen Thompson (below), denounced the views expressed on the leaflet. 

He said: "I am appalled to learn this is being pushed through letterboxes in Midlothian.

"It clearly comes from a tiny minority of right-wing religious zealots who are sadly trying to impose their views on others. This does not represent the message of love that most people of faith believe, but could cause deep distress to constituents who may be struggling at difficult times in their lives. 

"I would advise people to ignore and put it straight into their recycling bins where the pulp could be made into something more useful. I am proud we live in an open, diverse and tolerant society where women’s reproductive rights and LGBT rights are enshrined in the law and supported by the vast majority of the population.

"I think Midlothian Innovation Centre needs to look at its policies for printing such rubbish."

Midlothian Innovation Centre said it was "unaware of the leaflet, its content or distribution" and that the matter was under investigation. 

Police Scotland said: "On Wednesday, June 15, 2022, a complaint was made to police by a member of the public about a pamphlet in circulation in the Loanhead area that they considered offensive. 

"Enquiries are at an early stage." 

The leaflet is titled "An Open Letter to Government" which Pastor Shore allegedly sent to a “friend in local government” and then proceeded to distribute more widely.

The Free Baptist Church is part of the Baptist World Mission, an American evangelical movement with missionaries throughout the world.

The church is a registered charity in Scotland and is a regular participant at the Loanhead Children's Gala Day.

The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) said: “OSCR has been made aware of this material and we are currently considering them in line with our published policies”.

Religious groups in Scotland are legally permitted to share such views publicly as long as they do not “stir up hatred” against groups of people based on their protected characteristics, including sexual orientation and transgender identity, according to the Hate Crime and Public Order Act (2021).

However, despite receiving royal assent over a year ago, a commencement date for the Act has not been confirmed and therefore the provisions in the act are not yet being implemented.

According to Pastor Shore’s blog his family are also hosting a Ukrainian family at their home as part of the refugee resettlement scheme.

The Baptist World Mission describes Scotland as "very humanistic, atheistic, evolutional and decidedly not Christian.

"It is in desperate need of a fresh touch from God."

Pastor Shore has been approached for comment.

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