A church has been banned from using a market stall to hold its weekly outreach service following a complaint about “hate-motivated” leaflets published by the group.

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The Norwich Reformed Church held a weekly outreach bookstall from the Norwich City Council-owned site on Hay Hill, but has been informed it is no longer allowed to use the stall after the council received a complaint about literature on it. The complaint prompted a review of the materials produced by Reverend Alan Clifford, pastor of the church, and the council contacted police as materials, particularly the leaflet entitled Why not Islam, were considered to be hate-motivated.

The church has been prohibited from using the site, while the council-run Eaton Park Community Centre has also been contacted with a view to ceasing any further bookings made by the church.

A council spokesman said: “We received a complaint from a member of the public about material published by the Norwich Reformed Church (associated with the Farthing Trust) which uses council facilities. This was considered to be hate-motivated and, in accordance with the agreed Norfolk Multi Agency Protocol, we contacted the police.

“Although the police advised that no criminal offence had been committed, we have a duty under the Equality Act 2010 to foster good relations between people of all backgrounds and religions. By allowing premises owned by the council to be used by an organisation publishing such material, we would be failing in that duty. People across Norfolk have recently been urged to stand up to hate-motivated and intolerant behaviour through a publicity campaign and as a council we have to play our part and take action where necessary.”

Rev Clifford, who has written to the Christian Institute for advice, said an “extraordinarily silly” form of “political correctness” had emerged. He said: “While the opinion of the Christian Institute is awaited, it is hoped that in due course, common sense might prevail, and that Norwich Reformed Church’s rights to worship and witness will be restored.”

A police spokesman confirmed a complaint had been received from a member of the public regarding leaflets that were distributed but, following discussions with the council, the force’s diversity team and CPS it was “deemed that no offences were carried out”.

44 comments

  • No one is preventing this pastor, and his wacko foreign cult, from expressing their hate-filled bile - just that they should not do so on local council premises.

    Report this comment

    GoodRockinDaddy

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

  • When considered and reasoned debate is not permitted grievances can fester and become excuses for extreme behaviour. I can't see that the economy has anything to do with radicalisation,as suggested, rather the relatively sudden collision between cultures, far more sudden than in any time other than conquest. However it is free speech at risk here, and if there is anything we should demand to be able to criticise, short of making threats, it is religion and politics, because we can choose what we believe and what we think. This right should not be lost because a council official is ignorant of theology and the law-it has been happening too often,whether it is removing art works depicting Christian icons from shop windows or walls or handing out leaflets debating Islam. I expect to wait a long time to see council officials demanding the removal of posters and images from church walls on the basis that they offend the secular community.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Monday, April 16, 2012

  • When considered and reasoned debate is not permitted grievances can fester and become excuses for extreme behaviour. I can't see that the economy has anything to do with radicalisation,as suggested, rather the relatively sudden collision between cultures, far more sudden than in any time other than conquest.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Monday, April 16, 2012

  • These economic times lend themselves to a greater radicalisation of faiths and so unnecessary division between humanity,violence and war.This radicalisation can come from any faith,Christian or Muslim included, and the consequences can be so severe any public statements which support the radicalistion process need to be the subject of early intervention whereever they come from.In other words society needs to be intolerant of intolerance.Islamophia is but one symptom of these economic times.The openness of these columns shows too openness is the only way to prevent those of minority opinion from going underground and becoming invisible.That's how the Brieveks of this world are created.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

  • So the Stasi and the apparachniks in City hall flex their muscles! It's a pity they don't remove all those unsightly "works of art" on Hay Hill that they squandered taxpayers money on,rather than following the insanity of political correctness that typifies this sad little country and overreacting to a leaflet.No religion in a so called democracy is above criticism unless you live in a dictatorship,and Britain these days is getting perilously close to becoming one.

    Report this comment

    Harry Rabinowitz

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

  • This should be the lead item on the EDP. if we cannot be free to criticise the religious beliefs and actions of others without being accused of inciting hatred or disturbing the peace by mealy mouthed numb brained councillors then we are in a very bad place indeed. I disagree with the stance of all religions- many religions would seek to seriously restrict my personal freedoms by imposing their beliefs on the rest of us via government. We only have to look at Ireland to see how this has worked for women. But I respect their right to have their say and expect the same. Religion is something you choose, it is not the same as race, it is closer to politics than anything else. Consequently we all should be free to criticise any religion and the actions of any follower and not have that criticism falsely construed as hatred. What a good job an employee of NCC was not around when the people started to raise doubts about the religion of Matthew Hopkins, withchfinder general.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

  • I live in a Muslim country and they laugh at the pathetic way we meter out "equality". I abide by the rules here and we all respect each other. There is more free speech here than in the UK, and I have the same rights as the locals, no more and no less ! I can agree or disagree with their views as they do with ours and it is done in normal conversation with no threat of accusations of racism on either side. Britain is making a rod for its own back and one day it will come back to haunt the politicians. Too many do gooders and not enough people in charge with the common view and more importantly common sense. Unless the said material contained inflamatory remarks, or could icite violence then it should be ignored by the authorities who clearly have too much time on their hands to investigate this. There seems to be free speech in the UK. ( For some !! )

    Report this comment

    Turkish Martin

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

  • As Christians in the U.K.and the world we face the accommodation for this Barbaric ideology by our politically correct politicians and governments. I hope they will come to to see what we see that is happening before it is too late. Edl East Anglian Division

    Report this comment

    East Anglian

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

  • I have not seen this material, but there is a big difference between hate and disagreeing, is this the case here? Did a Muslim object or was it the council being over sensitive?

    Report this comment

    richguyb

    Saturday, April 14, 2012

  • This is censorship! Now that Norwich City Council has banned the stall, it has given publicity to the Norwich Reformed Church which will surely gather a larger following; presumably, the opposite of what Norwich City Council intended?

    Report this comment

    Musto_Fan

    Thursday, April 19, 2012

  • Yet again shows why Norwich City Council is top heavy with left wingers. Have you tried to pay cash at the main hall of Nch. C.Council, less than a tenner recently, umm er we can't accept that you can at post offices, pay points, or set up direct debit, they sure have got their priorities in the wrong place as usual.

    Report this comment

    Paul Platten

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

  • London University is considering closing some of their bars because muslim students do not want to be in the vicinity of places selling alcohol, I would have thought that if one wanted to live in an islamic society it would be best to move to an islamic country, it is increasingly the case that we must all say and do as this government tells us and that we are not allowed to express opinions that the government disaprove of I am increasingly scared of saying something that their strict poloicies regard as rascist or wrong

    Report this comment

    blister

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

  • As Christians in the U.K.and the world we face the accommodation for this Barbaric ideology by our politically correct politicians and governments. I hope they will come to to see what we see that is happening before it is too late. Edl East Anglian Division

    Report this comment

    East Anglian

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

  • @GoodRockinDaddy - if it was hate filled bile then it would be right to ban then, but it has been proved not to be hate filled bile, by the police and CPS. @Alf and Bobby it's a case of equality, just because one person didn't like what they are (quite legally) saying they are banned from the council premises. Yet there are a lot of minority groups that even though they are legal, some people find offensive - but are not banned (even supported) by the council.

    Report this comment

    expat

    Monday, April 16, 2012

  • It has come to a rum pass when it is quite possible to be accused of a hate crime if we object too loudly to the principles of various religions or cultures which insist that barbaric acts such as female circumcision are essential to their culture, or that marrying very young girls to old men or stoning women for adultery is OK. When we can't question why members of some religions are excused from complying with laws that the rest of the population have to obey.And indeed when we can't publicly debate or challenge religious tradition. Just where is the hate crime in pointing out that some things are vile, no matter what belief they are done in the name of. They used to burn women and put people on the rack in the name of religion-would we be guilty of a hate crime for saying that the men who did that were vicious maniacs?

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012

  • Those who resort to calling contributors idiots on these columns are obviously intellectually challenged and have my sympathy. All council expenditure is relevant especially on Hay hill where this pastor has had his stall banned. I hope he can get his stall back if he can find a space but in the present climate I don't hold out much hope.

    Report this comment

    Harry Rabinowitz

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

  • Some religions are fairly intolerant of other religions, although they all claim to worship the same god. Taking kids out of school because they don`t celebrate Christmas, isn`t a good start for trying to understand how other people live their lives.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

  • Timmy Two sheds is right. The comment I have been trying to get past the mods for days is that religion and politics, unlike race, are a matter of personal choice and so we should be free to say what we like about both. When antagonism is only avoided because one party keeps their counsel, there is no freedom for all.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Monday, April 16, 2012

  • just who is this do gooder who reported this leaflet. Why dont they come on this site and give their reasons for reporting it . This person obviously does not beleive in free speech or democracy

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

  • if no offence was commited then why are they not allowed to use the stall . More proof that there is no free speech in this country any more

    Report this comment

    milecross

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

  • I expect to wait a long time to see council officials demanding the removal of posters and images from church walls on the basis that they might upset the atheists in the community. I suspect our council officials cant tell the difference between race and religion.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Monday, April 16, 2012

  • this kind of action has been brewing for years , when I was a student at uea in the 80s the labour party and other left wing groups denied a platform for anyone with right wing views, the left wing , and labour parties are the true fascists within our society for stopping anyone with opinions other than their own from offering their views

    Report this comment

    blister

    Saturday, April 14, 2012

  • Minority interests rule the waves today,and in general these minoritys are able to throw flack,but nothing must be said,mentioned,of published in response ! and our left wing council toe the line and the PC Brigade ! as its their nature to !

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Saturday, April 14, 2012

  • always seems odd that the labour party and other left wing groups applaude muslim groups and other minority ethinic groups even though they have extreme anit women and anti gay views

    Report this comment

    blister

    Saturday, April 14, 2012

  • Orwell was right about the future. Great Britain has become a ridiculous hellhole of political correctness and self flagellation, where thoughcrimes are punished and free and open speech is villified as "intolerance". Nobody can be "offended" (unless they are british of course) in this pathetic country. Orwell knew how silly his people were. He was a man way ahead of his times.

    Report this comment

    clash715

    Monday, April 16, 2012

  • Any chance of a prosecution for wasting police time?

    Report this comment

    richguyb

    Monday, April 16, 2012

  • "intolerant of intolerance". This is code for "I don't like free speech if your opinion differs from mine." I think anyone espsousing conservative economic principles is being "intolerant", therefore, conservative economic ideas shouldn't be allowed. I think anyone disagreeing with colonialism is "intolerant", therefore only imperialists should be allowed to speak. I think anyone against slavery is "intolerant", therefore anyone against slavery should be stopped from free public discourse. I think anyone that doesn't like meat and potatoes is "intolerant", therefore, only those that like meat and potatoes should be allowed to speak and write their opinions in great britain. Who exactly defines what "intolerance" is? This is a recipe for a fascist nation. Allowing self-appointed speech monitors and thought police to control what people can say, think, and hear. Britain is asking for trouble.

    Report this comment

    clash715

    Monday, April 16, 2012

  • Orwell was right about the future. Great Britain has become a ridiculous hellhole of political correctness and self flagellation, where thoughcrimes are punished and free and open speech is villified as "intolerance". Nobody can be "offended" (unless they are british of course) in this pathetic country. Orwell knew how silly his people were. He was a man way ahead of his times.

    Report this comment

    clash715

    Monday, April 16, 2012

  • Words fail me Peter Watson. What do you suggest the intolerance shown by most religions to others and to non believers has been caused by in the past? if there is one important freedom we should have it is to follow a religion or not as we choose but also to be free to say what we like, short of making threats, about the beliefs of others, because belief is a choice, just like politics. The slow of brain who equate a criticsm of a religion with racism need a bit of education. Religions often seek to interfere in the democratic process, their adherents to impose their beliefs on others.If there is no questioning we risk a slow erosion of the democratic freedoms we have left.

    Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

  • If you have a duty to foster good relations between people of all backgrounds and religions why does it not appear to be equal across all colours and religions? Or is it only white people who are racist? I think not, but the balance has gone to far and there needs to be equality.

    Report this comment

    Mr T

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

  • We associate this sort of censure ship with countries in the east where, by government dictate, there is no freedom of thought or expression. Just where is all this going to end? I am seriously concerned that council officials and police officers are already going over top in their interpretation and implementation of this legislation as they did with the Terrorism Act. There are always unintended consequences of legislation of this type.

    Report this comment

    BG

    Saturday, April 14, 2012

  • Who cares WHY this church has been banned from having a stall...the positive thing is that there is one less outlet for this appalling religious nonsense....thats progress in any language.

    Report this comment

    merrydancer

    Saturday, April 14, 2012

  • If an Islamic group held a stall there giving out leaflets entitled '"Why not Christianity", followers of the Church and anyone who is looking for an excuse to bash the Islamic religion would be up in arms immediately complaining about the literature and expect the same sort response from the council and Police by removing the literature. Facist comments made by so called 'Brit lovers' do not represent all British people, just as extremist terrorist behaviour associated with some areas of Islam does not represent all Islamic people.

    Report this comment

    dhkcw

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

  • Nice to see that EEN uses a really up to date photo. NOT ! Before Mcdonalds it was a Santander Building Society or Abbey National BS and before that a pub. Come on EEN you have photographers who could just nip out during lunch to take a new photo.

    Report this comment

    chebram71

    Monday, April 16, 2012

  • Whys should this offend Norwich City council when it has not offended the police? Why is this issue filed in the crime section at all? Free speech means exactly that. It looks like not only politicians are out of touch, but also long standing, stick in the mud administrations.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, April 16, 2012

  • We no longer have free speech in Britain. They should not have been given a ban like this. Why is this rule not applied to everone.?

    Report this comment

    Johnny Norfolk

    Saturday, April 14, 2012

  • Surely it's worth noting that, although the council has barred them from holding a stall at that location, they are not banned from handing out literature should they wish to. If that's the case, surely this isn't an issue of free speech, is it?

    Report this comment

    Alf and Bobby

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

  • yes we have freedom of speech in this country,unless of course a muslim is offended. im not relgious in any way but everyone should be able to preach whatever they like regardless of who might be offended.

    Report this comment

    timmy_two_sheds

    Monday, April 16, 2012

  • So if the police confirmed they haven't commited a crime then the complaint was not valid, so why are they banned?

    Report this comment

    expat

    Saturday, April 14, 2012

  • Its nothing to do with religious views or non religious views,its about the right of free speech,as many posting on this thread are taking it upon themselves to be censors of freedom of expression,

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Sunday, April 15, 2012

  • No-one is suggesting that these church people should not be allowed to voice their views - just that they must do it somewhere other than council property - otherwise our beloved council might be assumed to approve of their dark-age superstitions. 'East Anglian', which barbaric ideology is it you speak of ? You identify yourself as a Christian (a religion imported by foreigners) - yet Christianity involves much barbarism - indeed you worship a god who, (according to Genesis 6-9), finding himself displeased with his own creation, flooded the earth and drowned nearly all living things, including, one can assume, millions of puppies. Nice !

    Report this comment

    GoodRockinDaddy

    Tuesday, April 17, 2012

  • I for one would rather see all religion banned in this country than continue on this path where people do not feel able to voice their opinions, distasteful or not. The mark of a tolerant society is the ability to allow minorities of what ever background or persuasion to hold views which may not be shared by others providing that they stay within the law!

    Report this comment

    Douglas McCoy

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012

  • The Police confirmed they have not committed a crime......That will not matter to Norfolk Police who have a diversity department that is against Christians and what they stand for. Any serving Christian officer is a target for this Department as is those who choose free speech!

    Report this comment

    dave123

    Monday, April 16, 2012

  • I for one would rather see all religion banned in this country than continue on this path where people do not feel able to voice their opinions, distasteful or not. The mark of a tolerant society is the ability to allow minorities of what ever background or persuasion to hold views which may not be shared by others providing that they stay within the law!

    Report this comment

    Douglas McCoy

    Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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