Anti-gay politician John Mason says we should ‘take risks and trust in Jesus’ and go to church amid coronavirus

SNP MSP John Mason. Ken Jack/Getty Images)

Defying all advice from leading scientists, health authorities and advocates, a Scottish Nationalist politician with an extensive track record in anti-gay and anti-trans comments has condemned a church for cancelling services amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Devout Baptist John Mason, the MSP for Glasgow Shettleston, implored parishioners to “take risks and trust in Jesus”, The Times reported.

On a Facebook post, the lawmaker objected to Easterhouse Baptist Church organisers cancelling services over the next two Sundays in an effort to curb the climbing rates of COVID-19 that have sickened more than 5,000 and killed more than 200 in the UK.

‘Surely we should be bold, take risks, and trust in Jesus?’

Last Sunday, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon slapped stringent measures onto Scotlanders that included guidance that the public avoid crowded areas and large gatherings.

This includes, the guidelines read, religious congregations.

Writing just hours before the measures were announced by government, Mason skewered religious leaders for heeding to advice to minimise social interaction by cancelling services.

He said: “I think this is the wrong decision.

Nicola Sturgeon, John Mason and Alex Salmond

Nicola Sturgeon, John Mason and Alex Salmond are pictured in 2008. (ED Jones/AFP/Getty)

“People may be looking for help and support and the obvious place to go is the local church.

“Surely we should be bold, take risks, and trust in Jesus?”

Easterhouse Baptist Church replied to Mason on Facebook, stating: “John, thanks for stating clearly your views about the decision of the leadership team at Easterhouse Baptist Church.

“We’re disappointed too, but believe this is the right decision, at this time.

“As an [senior leadership team] we are trusting in Jesus, we value your prayers for us as we lead in these unprecedented times.”

John Mason opposes LGBT+ rights.

Mason’s biography is one of broadsiding pro-LGBT bills and amendments in Holyrood and pushing Young Earth creationism to be taught in schools as an alternative theory to evolution.

He wrote for Christians Together in 2013: “It is widely known that I am a member of Easterhouse Baptist Church. I believe that the Bible is the word of God and its teachings are God’s direction as to how I should live my life.

“The Bible’s teaching is that a follower of Jesus should not have a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex.”

Glasgow SNP MSP John Mason. (Ken Jack/Getty Images)

In 2017, Mason was the only MSP to voice opposition to a law extending pardons to men with historical gay sex convictions.

Mason compared the law to an apology for the “Roman occupation.”

He also denounced trans folk for trying to “override science” for simply existing.

Why are large gatherings being cancelled?

As the coronavirus outbreak winnows fear and paranoia across nations and many world leaders enforce harsh measures – such as the shuttering of theatres, restaurants and clubs – the public is being urged to minimise contact with others.

Front-line medical staff are doing all they can to prepare for an incoming wave of coronavirus patients. Worrisome for healthcare providers, however, is people treating the pandemic like business as usual.

One gay man who acquired the virus voiced his concern to the community, detailing his symptoms: “I don’t want anyone to go through what I am going through right now.”

In a lithe hospital gown, Tarek Soliman, a costume designer, urged people to “stay home”.

He added: “This isn’t something small we are dealing with, be responsible and stay home. I don’t want anyone to go through what I am going through now.

“Stay safe.”