Christians are being encouraged to defend free speech and “speak out” on cultural issues, after feminist author Kathleen Stock faced opposition from trans activists for addressing the Oxford Union.
Approximately 200 trans activists protested outside against a talk by Dr Stock yesterday – claiming her views on gender identity are transphobic – something she denies.
Members of Oxford University’s LGBTQ+ Society wore t-shirts that read “No More Dead Trans Kids”, on a march in opposition to her invitation to speak at the Union.
One protestor glued themselves to the floor during the professor’s speech before being arrested by police.
Stock previously quit her post at the University of Sussex after being targeted by activists over her gender views - she argues that some trans ideology has negative implications for hard won women's rights.
James Mildred, director of communications and engagement at social policy charity Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) says Stock’s views on gender are not controversial.
Referencing polling linked to Scotland's Gender Recognition Reform bill, Mildred told Premier’s News Hour: “what was really interesting was the polling showed that the majority of people in Scotland would actually be in a very similar place to where Kathleen is."
He added: "Kathleen is a measured speaker on these issues - she's spoken out about the importance of protecting the rights of transgender people and I think from a Christian perspective, she strikes a helpful balance.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who studied at Oxford, defended the professor's right to address the Union, saying debate is the hallmark of a "tolerant society".
Christian MSP Kate Forbes came under considerable scrutiny for her Christian beliefs earlier this year when she ran for the SNP leadership.
Mildred says Christians have a “God-given calling” to speak out and shape culture just as Jesus did.
“We're called salt and light. So you don't put a light under a bench or under a chair, you don't hide it away, you let it shine. And so we want to be able to shine out God's better story for human flourishing.”
When asked how Christians can communicate their views in a culture that seems increasing hostile, Mildred encouraged believers to be “ambassadors” of Christ and use language that is “seasoned with salt”.
“As Christians, we believe in free speech. We believe that God has made us to speak … but we of all people should be speaking into these kinds of debates that are taking place in our culture, with grace, with love, and with compassion.”