Christian Voice director escapes prosecution over anti-gay literature

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The Independent Online

For some, he is a much-needed voice against an increasingly Godless society, representing the views of a significant but largely silent section of the population.

But for a great many others, Stephen Green, the director of Christian Voice, is a solitary individual, unrepresentative of wider opinion and only given prominence by the willingness of the media to offer him a platform.

Yesterday, Mr Green was in the public eye once again, after the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute him for breaching public order at a gay festival in Cardiff this month, when he handed out leaflets quoting the Bible as saying same-sex sex was a sin.

Charges against Mr Green, 54, who lives in Carmarthenshire, of using threatening behaviour or insulting words, or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress, were dropped at a pre-trial hearing in Cardiff because of insufficient evidence.

Mr Green responded by calling the Minorities Support Unit officer who arrested him a "pompous ass" from a "politically correct" unit and threatening to sue the police.

It is such battles that Mr Green relishes - they give him the opportunity to expound his uncompromising views, which include opposition to abortion, which he likens to the Holocaust, and homosexuality, the subject of his lengthy book, The Sexual Dead End.

"We live in Godless society, in which secular humanism has won over residual Christianity," he said.

After many years as a fringe figure - most notably with the Conservative Family Campaign - Mr Green, a builder by trade, became full-time chairman of Christian Voice three years ago. Born in south London and raised as an Anglican, he says he is no longer a Conservative or an Anglican and now lives in west Wales, where he is a member of the local Pentecostal church.

He came to prominence early last year when he campaigned against the BBC's decision to broadcast the multi-award winning "Jerry Springer - The Opera".

Although his group is believed to have only a few hundred members - he will not say how many - they bombarded the BBC with letters and e-mails and placed the home addresses of senior executives on their website, causing a number to receive death threats.

Subsequent campaigns and protests restricted a provincial tour of the show. He also persuaded Maggie's Centres for cancer sufferers to turn down a £10,000 donation from the show after threatening to picket the charity. The BBC was later criticised for inviting Mr Green to appear on Question Time and revised its policy on his group.

He has also campaigned, without success, against the Gay Police Association, particularly the participation of officers in gay pride marches, which led to his arrest in Cardiff. He wrote to all the country's chief constables about the issue. All rejected his complaint and one, Terence Grange, the Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys Police, wrote back: "As a lifelong practicing Catholic... I must advise you that I find your views morally offensive and totally reprehensible and I would be grateful if you would cease further communication."

Mr Green also protested against Wayne Rooney's Nike adverts - condemned for "tasteless" use of Christian symbolism, a television documentary featuring anatomist Gunther von Hagens demonstrating the effects of a crucifixion, and the marriage of the Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles - on the basis that the latter was still married in the eyes of God.

When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, Mr Green declared it was "God's wrath" and had brought "purity" to the city.

While he has enjoyed some support from right-wing Christian groups and bodies such as Media-watchUK, the successor to Mary Whitehouse's National Viewers and Listeners Association, mainstream churches have distanced themselves. A Church of England spokesman said they were "aware" of his activities, but would not be drawn further.

Some, however, have been more forthright: the Rev Dr David Peel, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church said Christian Voice was "a small, self-selecting group distinguished mainly by its absurd claim to represent Christians". Bodies such as the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association have also criticised Mr Green for being unrepresentative. "I think the media have given him an authority that he doesn't deserve," said Terry Sanderson, of the NSS.

Surprisingly, Mr Green agrees: "There is absolutely no reason why I should have any prominence at all," he says, adding: "But things have a habit of capturing the public imagination."