IMMEDIATE 10.00pm 23rd June 2005
A decision by the Co-operative Bank to demand that Christian Voice close its account has led to accusations that the bank is ‘hypocritical’ in its application of human rights by discriminating against Christians, and a call for Christians to boycott the Co-op. The Bank’s decision to throw out Christian Voice, well known for its evangelical stance after leading opposition to Jerry Springer the Opera, comes after hospital bosses in Leicester tried to ban the Bible from patients’ bedsides, and a cross was taken down from a Torbay crematorium chapel. In May, a hostel for the homeless in King’s Lynn was threatened with the removal of its funding for having bibles in the rooms and saying grace before meals.
Stephen Green, National Director of Christian Voice, said today: “The decision from the Co-operative Bank fits a pattern where politically-correct bully-boys try to attack Christian organisations, Christian symbols, the Bible, and in the case of Jerry Springer the Opera and BBC2, even the person of our Saviour.”
In a letter earlier this month, C. Henfrey, a manager at the Co-op told Christian Voice: “Following a review of the activities of Christian Voice, we wish to give you notice that we require you to close your account with the Co-operative Bank plc. It has come to our attention that Christian Voice is engaged in discriminatory pronouncements, based on the grounds of sexual orientation. This public stance is incompatible with the position of the Co-operative Bank, which publicly supports diversity, in all its forms, for our staff, customers and other stakeholders.” The letter went on to give Christian Voice 30 days to get their account out of the Co-op. The action comes days after Christian Voice applied through the Co-op to HSBC for the facility to accept donations on-line.
Stephen Green retorted: “Of course we make ‘discriminatory pronouncements on grounds of sexual orientation’. We have been criticising homosexual rights ever since we started eleven years ago. Standing up for righteousness is what we do. www.christianvoice.org,uk In fact you could say there are dozens of such pronouncements in my own book “The Sexual Dead-End”, which was published in 1992. It is a conviction of our Christian faith that homosexual activity is sinful; in fact that it is an abomination in the eyes of God. It is also a conviction of ours that the Lord Jesus shed His precious blood to forgive the sins of all who put their trust in Him, including sexually-active homosexuals. We told the Co-op bank when we switched to them three years ago that we were a voice for Biblical values and that we promote traditional family life. They raised no problem with that at all, and at no time did they tell us about their militant pro-homosexuality. Even today, on their website, they keep that very quiet. www.co-operativebank.co.uk Only in the staff recruitment section is there any word about ‘diversity’ and the words ‘in all its forms’ or “sexual orientation” are nowhere to be seen. All the questions on the ethical questionnaire we had to complete were to do with whether we traded in arms or chemicals or had dealings with oppressive regimes. We quite truthfully said we did not, and we reckon the Co-operative Bank is in breach of contract - not that we would want to continue with such a discriminatory outfit.”
Paul Monaghan, ‘Head of Sustainable Development’ at the Co-operative Bank, rang Stephen Green to tell him that anyone who regarded homosexual acts as sinful had no place banking with the Co-op at all. “You must have slipped through the net,” he said, “Your website is full of blatant homophobia.” Mr Monaghan went on: “The Co-operative Bank has no problem with gay people at all. We have been actively present at the Manchester Gay Pride march and Cardiff Mardi Gras and want to be present at every gay event.” The Co-op was “not a natural port of call” for those who took a Biblical view of homosexuality, he said.
Stephen Green said, “The Co-op centre all their banking policies around the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which does not mention ‘diversity’ or sexual orientation once. But it does say this, in Article 18: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion’ and in Article 16(3) ‘The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State’ http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html
“The Co-op bank, for all its fine words, is discriminating against us on the grounds of conscience and religion, something which the UDHR specifically forbids and which will shortly become illegal in the UK if the Government have their way. For a bank which claims to support the UDHR and to be against discrimination, their attitude towards us is unethical, blatantly discriminatory and nothing short of hypocritical. They should renounce all claims to support the UDHR and plainly state on their home page that they do not want any business from Bible-believing Christians including Evangelicals, Catholics, orthodox Jews and Muslims or any one who does not share their passion for gay rights.
“The sadness is that, along with many other Christian organisations and individuals, we chose the Co-op to handle our banking because of their Christian roots, their fair trade policies, and what we took to be their ethical stance on investments and business dealings. At the time, there was no mention by them that people who believe that homosexual acts are sinful would not be welcome. We feel let down, frankly, and the whole business has left a sour taste in the mouth.
“We are now calling upon Christians who bank with and shop at the Co-op to withdraw their business until such time as this bank’s unethical and discriminatory attitude changes. Clearly, and on their own admission, the Co-op is not the bank for those who honour the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Further information from Stephen Green call: 07931 490 050
(If your enquiry is less urgent, please email Stephen on: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tel: 0161 832 3456 or 0161 475 7105 or 08457 212 212
The Co-operative Bank plc, PO Box 101, 1 Balloon Street, Manchester, M60 4EP