November 15, 2008 by cosmoakacitizensmith
Patrick Jones is a poet from Blackwood, South Wales. One of the reasons he has my respect is the poetry and music night he organised in support of Babakhan Badalov, the Azeri artist, poet and asylum seeker who came to Cardiff and has since been deported.
His poems are very passionate and emotional, and deal with many issues including religion and sexuality. One such poem, in which he graphically describes intimate relations between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, has evidently angered the religious group Christian Voice.
These delightful individuals are an assortment of gay-bashing, hate-peddling, God-fearing folk. Their line in muscular Christianity seems to involve protesting against Jerry Springer the Opera, blocking the building of mosques, campaigning against gays and informing our entire godless society that we’re all going to hell in no uncertain terms. Charming.
Despite the fact that the Jesus/Mary Magdalene heresy is very old and forms the basis of, for example, the Da Vinci Code, Christian Voice decided to single out Patrick Jones for special attention. The launch of his latest book, Darkness is Where the Stars Are, was due to take place a Waterstones in Cardiff last Wednesday 12th November. However, due to pressure from the group, the reading got cancelled.
Perhaps you might like to write to Waterstones themselves and let them know your feelings about this act of censorship and its implications for free speech.
Pretty cowardly, really. I was supporting Mr. Jones the next evening in the Cwmaman Institute in the valleys the next evening. Fortunately Vic and Amanda, the promoters there, are made of sterner stuff, and the show went ahead. There were, however, two members of Christian Voice in the audience that night, and although they did not attempted to disrupt the evening, they certainly made their presence felt. Interesting, bearing in mind the group campaigned against the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill in the name of freedom of speech, in order to be able to insult religions that are not their own!
I sat down with one of the gentlemen there and discussed the very un-Christian behaviour of his group with reference to the following verses from the Bible, which I’d written on large placards:
A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
He that is slow to anger is better tha the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.
The man explained that it was not he that had taken offence, but rather that someone had insulted his God. I explained that as a Christian, he should not presume to act as an agent of God, surely it is down to God to act for Himself. Vengeance is mine and all that……
Anyway, off we went round the houses. When I went on stage, I led a chorus of Bread of Heaven. Being an atheist, I usually find the best way to tie Christians up in knots is to quote scripture at them.
All in all a very interesting night, and some very interesting discussions had. I’m still a bit concerned that these people are trying to take us back to the 16th century, though. Even the Christian members of the audience, whom I met in church the next day, seemed embarrassed and angry at the stance the group had taken.
Patrick Jones is very upset about all this, and deeply saddened by Waterstones’ act of censorship. He continues to be harassed by Christian Voice as venues where he is appearing are being subject to threats of disruption. It also seems now the Lib Dem MP Peter Black is involved, offering Jones the opportunity to perform a reading in the Welsh Assembly.
I’m sure he could do with all our support. I’m also sure there are a lot more useful, scriptural-based Christian acts that Christian Voice could be undertaking.