Pentecostal church leader denies allegations of homophobia

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Amended May 1st, 3.10pm.

Bishop John Francis, head of the Ruach Christian Ministry in Brixton, south-west London, was reported on Wednesday to have allegedly linked homosexuality to paedophilia and rape in his sermon delivered on Sunday 23 May.

In light of the allegations, Bishop Francis has issued the following statement which strongly denies all accusations of homophobia, including that he linked homosexuality with degenerative behaviour.

He stated that his views are orthodox and traditional Christian beliefs.

In the statement, he said: “Ours is a church which seeks faithfully to interpret scripture as appearing in the Bible and we do so in what may be considered an orthodox and traditional way.”

On Sunday [23 May] I preached from St Paul’s letter to the Romans, Chapter One, which is a section of scripture dealing with many different consequences of a broken society which has turned away from God. It is unquestionably true that part of the chapter deals with homosexual practice but it also deals with many other things such as envy, murder, greed and gossip.

“As a Christian preacher, I must accept that not everyone will agree with St Paul’s way of thinking in Romans Chapter One but I must also, in a free society, be able to interpret scripture as I see it and if necessary to question or criticise conduct, including sexual conduct, which I do not accept as being equivalent to marriage between one man and one woman and which I believe is the only divinely-given context for a sexual relationship.

“Indeed, the law of the land allows me to do so provided that I do not thereby stir up hatred against practicing homosexuals or unmarried people, which I can assure you I would never do.”

He also invited readers to join worship services at the church.

Bishop Francis’s church plans to move to Kilburn in north-west London and establish itself at an 4,000-capacity venue in a bid to attract a larger crowd of followers.