David Cameron met with anti-gay pastor who believes in witches

Buried news: the PM's handshake with Rev Adeboye was blasted by campaigners

 

Prime minister David Cameron has come under fire for shaking hands with a homophobic Christian pastor who promotes belief in witchcraft.

Mr Cameron met with Rev Enoch Adeboye at the huge Festival of Lights event at London’s ExCel Centre on Friday, in what campaigners called a ‘slap in the face’ to the victims of religious prejudice.

Rev Adeboye is notorious for his support of Nigeria’s drive to outlaw homosexuality, backing legislation that bans same sex marriage, gay rights groups and ‘public displays of affection’ by gay people.

Offenders under the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, passed in January 2014, can receive up to ten years in prison.

He also preaches about witchcraft, a belief which critics say has led to innocent people being killed, including children in London.

The prime minister was accused of boosting Rev Adeboye for the sake of ethnic minority votes in the general election.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, speaking to MediaWatch, said:

“It is hard to believe that David Cameron and his minders were not aware of Rev Adeboye’s extreme views. They always research venues and individuals before agreeing to do events.

A cynic might say this was a deliberate gesture by Cameron to win the African and evangelical vote in the upcoming election.

It contradicts the liberal image the Conservative leadership is trying to project and is a slap in the face to the victims of homophobia and witchcraft-related child abuse in Nigeria.”

The prime minister and Conservative party were contacted but declined to comment.

Mr Cameron’s government legalised gay marriage, with the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 coming into effect within weeks of the Nigerian law.

At the event on April 24, also attended by local Labour MP Stephen Timms, Mr Cameron sat next to Rev Adeboye, gave a speech to his audience and bowed his head to join the pastor in prayer.

Nigerian humanist Leo Igwe, who campaigns against witchcraft accusations, said:

“Participation by the British prime minister in a meeting organised by such a church gives it credibility. A handshake with its pastor is an endorsement of his teachings.

As the UK general election approaches, it is obvious that Cameron went to this event in search of votes from minority communities.

But is congregating and praying with a homophobic and witch-hunting pastor the way to achieve this?”

The Department for Education issued a national action plan in 2012 to tackle child abuse related to faith or belief, after high profile cases of children being murdered over ‘witchcraft’. That year saw the conviction of a couple in Newham, east London, for the torture and drowning to death of 15-year-old Kirsty Bamu, who they believed was a witch.

“The problem of witchcraft related abuse in black communities in the UK has been traced to the preaching and sermons of African pentecostal pastors,” said Mr Igwe. “Adeboye is one of those modern day witch-hunting, witch-finding occult entrepreneurs who market witchcraft demonologies in black communities.”

He added:

“Minority community groups or leaders who promote abusive religious beliefs and practices should not expect a handshake from the British prime minister or a respectable place in British politics.”

This story has yet to be covered by a national newspaper.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

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