The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
An interview with Ignacio Arsuaga of HazteOir, the group which launched a campaign denouncing the imposition of gender ideology in Spain. “We ask public authorities to respect the right of parents to decide on the affective-sexual education of their children.”
This week, the regional parliament of Valencia approved a law, similar to others approved in ten other Spanish regions, that, according to HazteOir, violates the parents' freedom to educate their children in the affective-sexual sphere.
"This bus has raised much controversy, but it has also raised awareness among many people who are mobilising in favour of these freedoms", Ignacio Arsuaga told Spanish newspaper Protestante Digital.
The President of HazteOir denounces that political parties and the media have created "a climate of persecution" against those who have "politically incorrect" ideas. "There are many politicians and institutions in Spain who do not believe in freedom", he said.
But Arsuaga is convinced that it is no time to be silent. "The freedom of speech of all the Spaniards is at risk. If we do not stop this kind of totalitarianism, those like us who talk about these things, any pastor or priest who says something in the church, or presents what the Bible says about certain issues, will end up in jail. That would be a tragedy."
Read Protestante Digital's interview with Ignacio Arsuaga.
Question. The campaign against the imposition of gender ideology started one month ago, and it has had a huge impact in the media. How do you asses it?
Answer. It has been a very stressful and hard campaign, we have suffered the violence of some radicals. But at the same time, it has been a campaign that has reached many Spaniards who did not know that laws which violate the freedom of parents to educate their children according to their values, are being approved.
Those who have mobilised and supported us, are the ones that will be able to repeal the more liberal dispositions of these laws. It is a campaign that supports freedom of education, freedom of speeh, ideological freedom and religious freedom.
These freedoms are being threatened or violated in Spain, and that had to be denounced. That is why we launched this bus that has raised much controversy, but it has also raised awareness among many people who are mobilising in favour of these freedoms.
Q. Now the motto of the campaign is focused on freedom of speech. Do you think that in Spain this right cannot be exercised under equal conditions? Do you see differences with other European countries?
A. These days we have presented a manifesto in favour of freedom of speech in the Valencia Council and in the Valencian parliament, asking them to recognise that there are two types of citizens in Spain.
The “first class citizens” are those who agree with the politically correct dogmas of gender ideology. And we are “the second class citizens”, who seem to have less rights. We are the ones who dare to speak against some of these dogmas.
We have not only seen how some violent people stoned us in Seville or threw eggs at us in Barcelona, but also public authorities have passed resolutions condemning HazteOir and the bus. Others have asked the government to withdraw the public utility satus of our organisation.
We have seen political representatives on Twitter and on the media insulting or threatening us, or even accusing us of incitement to hatred, which is a crime typified in the Spanish Penal Code.
There has been a climate of persecution against a politically incorrect organisation which has dared to say things that are contrary to the ideology of all political parties and most of the media. Some politicians have put us in the spotlight and then other people have attacked us, even physically.
Q. The majority of the political parties and the media are against you, and you are accused of wanting to impose your criteria on a society that is moving towards other values. What do you respond?
A. We do not want to impose anything. Even if we wanted, we would not be able to impose anything because we have no political power, but quite the opposite.
We want to propose a vision and to denounce the abuses of the gender ideology and of the powers that are passing laws that restrict fundamental freedoms.
We want to have the right to express ourselves freely, but without imposing, without attacking any kind of right. On the contrary, we demand that the fundamental rights of all people must be respected, and we ask administrations and schools to take measures to protect children who may be harassed or discriminated for any reason.
Q. What do you think about the law that has just been approved in Valencia?
A. These regional laws have different dispositions that violate fundamental freedoms. It is forbidden that an homosexual who wants to stop being homosexual receives any type of aid, this would be fined with up to 45,000 euros.
But the most worrying thing is undoubtedly the dispositions about education. All these laws impose the LGBT gender ideology, as the mandatory way of living sexuality in state schools and private schools, which is a respectable way, but there may be parents who do not agree with it. We want to decide.
With this campaign, we ask the public authorities to respect the right of parents to decide on the affective-sexual education of our children: about when we want our children to receive it, what contents, how, etc. The State cannot decide that.
There are textbooks that encourage children to experience relationships with people of the same sex and of different sex, so that they can find out their sexual orientation. That is very serious.
There will be parents who think that this is very good and respectable, but other parents who do not share that vision and defend another affective-sexual teaching, should also be respected.
Q. The issue of gender ideology is not only being debated in Spain, but also in other countries, including Latin America. Are you in contact with emerging entities or movements there?
A. Latin America is a continent that is setting an example to all the world in this mobilisation of civil society and families in favor of freedom of education, in favor of the family, against the imposition of gender ideology.
There has been a massive demonstration in Peru, as never seen in Europe, against the imposition of gender ideology in schools. We have received requests from Peru, Chile and Colombia to bring the “Freedom Bus” there, and we will try to do so with the help of local entities.
Q. You are on tour in different Spanish cities. What are your feelings regarding the reception that the bus is having?
A. We receive two type of reactions. There are people who give us encouragement. Today, a lady at the entrance of the Town Hall hugged me and congratulated me. But we also encounter violent people who insult us, throw us stones like in Seville, try to shake the bus, or throw us eggs or ketchup, like in Barcelona.
This is a because of the totalitarianism of some LGTB associations and politicians who have put us in the spotlight, accusing us of inciting hatred, but they have precisely generated hatred against the bus and against HazteOir. We will continue touring throughout Spain, to denounce this and defend our freedom.
Q. Have you had the chance to meet with political representatives?
R. It seems that politicians do not want to meet with us. In Valencia we had requested an appointment with the Mayor, and with the President of the regional parliament. They told us that they could not receive us.
However, when we were in the register office, presenting a document, the first deputy mayor of the Socialist party approached us, to tell us that we were not welcome in Valencia.
While this was happening, a member of her party was recording us, and they posted the video on Twitter afterwards. It seems that instead of talking with us, what they want is to point at us, identify us as outcasts, as second-class citizens.
Therefore, the dialogue we are seeking regarding those laws of sexual indoctrination that we are trying to repeal, is a message that is not reaching politicians.
However, it is reaching the society, the parents. There is a fracture between those who rule and society where there is a plurality of ideas.
Some Spaniards support these laws, but others are against them. We have been rejected by politicians, but we have also noticed the support of an important part of the Spanish society.
Q. Does this social support have no echo in political parties?
A. There have been political parties, like the People's Party (PP) in some regions, who have voted against the condemnatory measures against us. In other regions, such as Madrid, the regional President Cristina Cifuentes has been the driving force behind this conviction against HazteOir.
UPN, the party of the Navarre region, also voted against the conviction. But most of the political parties are joining this new form of Inquisition bonfire that wants to condemn dissidents. We do not just disagree with this gender ideology, but dare to express ourselves against it.
Q. You were in New York. How was the reaction to the campaign there?
A. We were presenting the bus in New York, where a Commission for Women was held at the United Nations. I took part in a side event explaining what was happening in Spain. In the United States, the authorities protect the freedrom of speech of citizens like us, who have promoted the bus initiative.
When the bus was attacked there by a group of three radicals who smashed some windows and smeared it, the police asked a nearby business for its cameras recording, and showed great interest in chasing those who attacked the bus. We have not found any obstacle to the circulation of the bus, while in several Spanish cities the bus was immobilized, trying to stop the spreading of our message.
At the end, you realize that United States has a democracy based on several centuries of history. But there are many politicians and institutions in Spain who do not believe in freedom, who believe that freedom should only apply to its supporters, but not to all citizens.
Q. In the middst of so much tension and confrontation, what perspective does this campaign give you about the future of freedoms and coexistence in Spain?
A. Right now it is clear that they will not frighten us, we will continue. We are defending fundamental rights, sometimes at the expense of receiving attacks and threats. We believe that we must continue because the freedom of speech of all the Spaniards is at risk.
If we do not stop this kind of totalitarianism, those like us who talk about these things, or any pastor or priest who says something in the church, or presents what the Bible says about certain issues, will end up in jail. That would be a tragedy.
We go on because we believe in democracy and freedom, hoping that politicians and rulers will realise that they must accept opinions they do not like, and that democracy means plurality of ideas, where we all have room and can express ourselves freely.