Oh, dear, the frothing Christians – well half a dozen of them, at any rate – were out in their . . . well, their half-dozens, and Stephen Green of Christian Voice was among them.
First, the "offending" bit, in which O'Neill was merely speculating on what the likes of Stephen Green might make of the character of Jesus we infer from the Gospels (but doesn't, of course, we assume):
This Jesus feller swans around all day with a dozen other blokes. No women. Mark that, no women. And he wanders off into the mountains now and again to spend quality time with his, uh, favourites (Mark.9:2). He picks up small boys and girls and puts his hands upon them (Mark 10:16) And he was seen in a garden when one of his mates came up and kissed him (Matthew,26:48). Suspicious, eh?
That has now been removed from the online version of the column, and a grovelling apology from the lily-livered owners has been printed, saying:
It has come to our attention that in an article on Wednesday, July 16, headlined "If God considers gays and abomination why did he create them?", our columnist Dan O’Neill offended a number of Christians. We would like to apologise for any offence caused to those people who believe the article insulted the Christian faith, Jesus Christ and the Holy Bible.
It's not surprising, really, but no less annoying for that.
Hat tip: the Cynical Dragon and MediaWatchWatch.
UPDATE: Since writing this piece I came across this one, written last year by the Echo's editor, no less (different editor back then, though, my fellow blogger, Monitor, over at MediaWatchWatch tells me, but it's someone in seniority talking on the paper's behalf, nonetheless), who writes about O'Neil's treatment of a story about the National Eisteddfod. And he writes thus:
A light-hearted columnist like Dan SHOULD be able to poke fun at something like the Eisteddfod. Just like he should any other subject be it Christianity, Islam, politics, sex, the colour of your socks.
As long as he is acting within the law he, and every other writer, should be allowed the freedom to write and to provoke discussion.
So we are left to assume he was not "acting within the law" on the question of the "gay Jesus", then, Mr Editor. Or perhaps you're not in agreement with your predecessor here and are more likely to cave in to religious bullying.