NSS raises concerns with charity watchdog over misogynistic sermon

The National Secular Society has raised concerns with the regulator over a Christian charity’s sermon which claims a wife should submit to her husband.

The NSS lodged concerns with the Scottish charity watchdog after Rosyth Baptist Church’s pastor claimed “a husband is the head of his wife” and a wife “that submits to her husband’s leadership and respects him is easier to love”.

The sermon, titled ‘Submit and love’, was delivered last month by reverend Chris Demetriou.

Demetriou says a marriage with a wife at the head “will not reach its full potential” because that “is not in God’s purpose”.

He explains a wife “should submit to her husband’s leadership” because “that’s the Lord’s pattern for us”. She submits to him “out of obedience to Christ”.

He says that if a wife thinks her husband is making a mistake, she “is to express why, because she’s looking out for him” and “look to persuade him”. But while a husband “should listen to his wife”, it is “his responsibility to lead”.

He ends the sermon by praying “that we will let our husbands lead”.

The Church re-registered as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation last month under the charitable purpose ‘the advancement of religion’.

Concerns lodged with charity watchdog

The NSS told the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) the sermon was “misogynistic, discriminatory against women and perpetuates sexist tropes”.

The sermon validates behaviour that could be considered “coercive and controlling” under the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018, it added.

The NSS said it was “especially concerning” that children attending the Church could be exposed to this message.

Non-religious charities would not be permitted by the regulator to spread this message and charities registered under ‘the advancement of religion’ should be “held to the same standard”, it concluded.

Under OSCR’s guidance, registered charities “must actively provide benefit”. An organisation may fail the charity test if it causes “likely detriment or harm”.

The NSS’s concerns come as First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf launches an initiative on “shaping positive masculinity”. The project seeks to challenge the “sexism, misogyny and abuse or violence against women and girls” associated with ‘toxic masculinity’.

Regulator fails to tackle misogyny in charities

Previous attempts to hold religious charities promoting misogyny to account have been unsuccessful.

In 2022, the NSS referred Moray Coast Baptist Church to OSCR after its pastor gave a sermon stating”it’s not fitting or proper for a woman to exercise authority over men”.

He said the “primary function” of a woman is “to be married, to have children, and to tend to household affairs – the cooking, the cleaning, the washing up, the preparing of meals”.

In response, OSCR said there were “insufficient regulatory grounds” for it to act because the matter “is not of a regulatory nature”.

It added: “The views expressed are likely to be held by virtue of a manifestation of a religious belief. Religious beliefs are protected under the Equality Act 2010.”

In 2022, OSCR also refused to take action against a Christian charity promoting homophobic and anti-vaccination memes.

NSS: Sermon “straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale

NSS campaigns officer Alejandro Sanchez said: “Mr Demetriou’s vision of a world of female subservience is straight out of The Handmaid’s Tale.

“It is misogyny like this that underpins the abuse and violence against women and girls which Mr Yousaf says he is committed to ending.

“In return for generous tax breaks, charities are meant to provide a public benefit and not cause likely detriment or harm.

“If ‘the advancement of religion’ enables charities to promote misogyny with impunity, it should be removed from the register of charitable purposes.”

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