An extreme Christian sect is being questioned for spreading gay hatred and anti-vaxx propaganda among its followers.
Scottish charity watchdogs are investigating after complaints about ‘disturbing’ messages posted online by Scottish fundamentalist group Christadelphian Ecclesia.
The group has been criticized by the Scottish government for undermining the vaccination programme.
And a complaint has been filed by the National Secular Society with the charity regulator OSCR after anti-gay and covid conspiracy messages emerged on social media.
A meme posted in January on the Facebook page of East Kilbride Christadelphians, who believe in creationism and seek to use the Bible to attack the life-saving message of social distancing.
It shows a man praying in front of a television screen saying “stay at home”, accompanied by the biblical quote: “Those who look at vain idols Forsake their faithfulness”.
Another meme implies that Covid-19 is a hoax. It displays pictures of the coronavirus alongside the biblical quote: “God will send them a strong delusion, that they may believe a lie”.
Another refers to “poison medicine” – referring to a syringe and a bottle of vaccine.
The NSS has also raised concerns about posts with homophobic content.
A meme posted to the group’s Facebook page shows a description of the destruction of the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah with the words “teach kids about LGBT history”. According to some interpretations, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed as punishment for homosexual activity among their inhabitants.
Another posted in March shows a photo of a rainbow sheepskin wolf, with the words “it’s OK, we only want equality”.
NSS policy and research manager Megan Manson said the group should not be allowed to operate as a charity.
She said: ‘It is extremely disturbing to see a registered charity seemingly discouraging the public from getting a Covid-19 shot or following social distancing guidelines, as well as promoting homophobia.
“These harmful messages are clearly displayed for the charitable purpose of ‘advancement of religion’.
“If this charitable purpose can make it easy for charities to promote messages that harm public health and well-being, it must be challenged.
“We hope RASB will make it clear that ‘advancing religion’ is not a license to spread harmful conspiracy theories and homophobia.”
East Kilbride-based Christadelphian Ecclesia, which is registered as a charity with the aim of ‘advancing religion’, has posted dozens of memes and video content on its Facebook page, implying that the Covid-19 vaccine is a “sacred cow”.
A video released in December indicates that the punishment for worshiping a cow idol, according to the Bible, was a plague.
He says, “In today’s world, many of us would laugh at the idea that a man-made cow would provide any type of salvation or protection.
“But are we really different? Did you know that the word vaccine comes from the Latin word vacca, which means “cow”.
He adds, “The consequences of not repenting from medicines are more plagues, which are listed in Revelation 16. We are now living in the time of these plagues. It’s time to repent of our sorceries before it’s too late.
A cartoon also released in December shows people worshiping a cow statue labeled “Covid Vaccine”.
Other images include a warrior with a shield held up against syringes and needles – encouraging people to defend themselves against vaccination.
A meme posted in January shows a photo of the Covid-19 vaccine next to a Bible quote that reads, “The remnant of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of his hands… And they didn’t. repent of their murders or their poisoned medicine”.
Some content appears to encourage defying government guidelines on social distancing. A cartoon published in November 2020 shows a photo of coronavirus and a church, with the words: “We are all tested to see if God is first in our lives.”
In a 2019 report, the NSS argued that “advancement of religion” should be removed as a charitable purpose.
A Scottish government spokesman blasted the group’s dangerous messages.
A spokesperson said: ‘Getting vaccinated saves lives and helps protect the NHS by making it much less likely that people will need hospital treatment if they contract Covid – and faith leaders have actively encouraged and supported the vaccination campaign.
“The deliberate dissemination of false information about the vaccine is irresponsible and reckless, and people should seek accurate information from reputable sources.”
Last month, a coalition of Scottish faith leaders announced their support for the vaccination programme.
The Christadelphians are a Christian sect founded in the 19th century. They claim that their beliefs are entirely based on the Bible.
They state, “Our goal is to live by faith in Jesus Christ, as taught by his disciples in the first century C.E. We believe the Bible is the word of God and the only message from him. It teaches us about God and his son Jesus Christ, and his purpose for the world.
A spokesperson for the OSCR said: “We have received concerns about recent social media activity from East Kilbride Christadelphian Ecclesia, SC010420.
“These concerns are being assessed in accordance with our investigation policy to determine whether RASB should take regulatory action. We cannot comment further at this time.”
The Record followed East Kilbride Christadelphian Ecclesia trustee Andrew Brand to an upscale home in Strathaven, South Lanarkshire.
Brand didn’t come to the door to speak to our reporter and he didn’t respond to our request to call us.
A woman who answered help at the charity’s doorstep had already faced a complaint.
She said: “Everything was investigated and we were told we could continue.”