Comment: PinkNews founder Benjamin Cohen’s Radio 4 broadcast is not blasphemous

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

Hannah Buchanan has defended the decision of Benjamin Cohen, the founder of PinkNews, to liken the treatment of gay people in Britain to the crucifixion of Christ in a Radio 4 Easter programme to be broadcast at 8:45pm tonight.

The decision of Benjamin Cohen, the founder of PinkNews, to liken the treatment of gay people in Britain to the crucifixion of Christ in a Radio 4 Easter programme to be broadcast on Radio 4 on Wednesday 8.45pm has provoked moral affront from some. It’s shocking isn’t it? A whole lot worse than a sex scandal in Ambridge, and probably will have the dear Radio 4 listeners choking on their morning beverage and Digestive biscuit.

He has even been branded blasphemous by the charity Christian Concern and as for the Daily Mail comments section well I think you can figure that out for yourselves.

But is the real issue here, and what terrifies Conservative evangelicals most, is that there may be an element of unavoidable truth contained within Ben’s message, and if so how do we move forward from here on in?

1. Jesus’ death was untimely, inconvenient and reluctant.

Theologically, whatever else you think of Christianity, whether you attend Church every Sunday or whether you are an atheist it can be discerned from the Bible alone, that Jesus Christ was a reluctant personification of heroism. In many ways, he did not want to die, he felt there was more work for him to do, and that there were more issues of the day that needed addressing. Indeed, the crucifixion always had some air of reluctance about it. Indeed, one of the most seminal lines in the song Gethsemane from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar is “TAKE ME NOW BEFORE I CHANGE MY MIND.”  It is almost a plea to speed up the process and to get it over with.

Many LGBT people also experience this feeling. Not everyone comes out in a blaze of glory, sparkles and happiness. For some it is a difficult process. Many fear the stigma of simply being different, when previously, their narrative was one of normalcy. It is a real struggle to admit you are different. Many suffer from internalised homophobia and transphobia against themselves too. For many, joining the LGBT community can be costly, but not financially. I mean in terms of peer pressure, and subsequent divorces for example.

All of these things are very Christ like, and parallels between these scenarios should not be ignored.

2. Jesus was discriminated against.

Last year, there were 43,000 hate crimes against LGBT people, a figure that Prime Minister David Cameron has described as appalling.

Whether Christian or not, the impact of the imagery surrounding the Crucifixion cannot escape anyone. Jesus with a crown of thorns, and nails on his feet bleeding for all to see on a cross. Imagine the physical pain he would be in. Also the additional factor in play, being ridiculed by an angry mob!

The LGBT community is often discriminated against too, and is a target for ridicule in a heteronormative world. There are up sides too like solidarity when the community comes together. But, equal marriage is only just coming into force thanks to the bullish and determined attitude of David Cameron and Maria Miller, the Equalities Minister. Insults like “queer” and “poof” are stilll commonplace in everyday speech.

I have also argued that since transitioning I have felt closer to God in some aspects, even though I don’t attend Church regularly. I felt he understood me and could relate to my marginalised trans status as well as my disability, cerebral palsy. The metaphor too, of a broken bleeding body really truly resonates with me.

I think that to understand the predicament of the transsexual we need look no further than Jesus. He was ridiculed, and marginalised. He reached out to Mary, allowing her to wash his hair. Jesus commanded us to love our neighbours as ourselves, with no discriminatory opt outs.

I think Jesus would have hung around with the LGBT community. I’m not sure whether he would have got his groove on to Born this Way by Lady Gaga but that’s another issue for another time.

Jesus specifically sought out the marginalised and despised. He allowed a prostitute to wash his hair, and never said anything about homosexuality at all.

If anything, I feel Jesus would have shown a strong, truthful and credible empathy towards the LGBT community, as well as being a passionate advocate for their collective rights.

This is not blasphemy Benjamin Cohen has committed here. He is merely shedding light on the truth of what being a marginalised citizen is like and how it feels. If that is blasphemy, then I must be living in another world. Speaking of feelings, LGBT Christians have been excluded from this counter claim. Are their beliefs less valid and less important to a loving God? Are they mere blasphemy? How is that meant to make them feel? To be frank, I think the accusation levelled at Ben is the worst blasphemy of all. Does that not concern you too?