‘Jesus burgers’ and Tory councillors: The new Freedom Church strategy?

In what looks to be another effort to increase their stranglehold on Hereford, two Freedom Church pastors could be about to open a burger restaurant in the city.

Jon Johnson

Tory candidate, Jon Johnson

Josh and Rosie Snowzell are listed as directors of a Bromleys Hereford Burger Limited, incorporated in June 2014, and are rumoured to be in talks with Old Market Hereford.

The Heckler has heard from a source closely linked to the project that architects are involved in drawing up layout plans for a restaurant at the new shopping complex.

Old Market Hereford have refused to either confirm or deny these rumours.

In a separate development Freedom Church is also claimed to have put forward candidates for the local elections.

A leaflet, allegedly published by the church, states “vote for Conservative Jon Johnson, let’s vote for Hereford Freedom Church”.

Johnson had been a Freedom Church employee until 2014 and both he and his wife continue to be connected to them. He was announced as the Conservative candidate for Wormside, a south Herefordshire ward including the villages of Kingstone, Allensmore and Kilpeck.

Another Conservative candidate, Mark McEvilly, standing in Hereford’s Saxon Gate ward, is another council hopeful found to be closely linked with the church.

Jon Johnson leafletMcEvilly’s proposer and seconder, Allen and Sue Carter, are also Freedom Church supporters. Allen is employed by the televangelist Christian Broadcasting Network, which has its European office based in Hereford. All other eight of his candidacy nominees either have links to Freedom Church itself or other similar style Christian organisations.

Charity rules ban organisations like Freedom Church from getting involved in politics. Expressing support for a particular party or candidate is explicitly forbidden.

If these revelations are more than an extremely coincidental set of circumstances, then it represents a worrying development in the church’s dominant aspirations. In the past senior members have sat on the board of governors at Whitecross high school, and been involved in the delivery of youth and social services with their 2XL programme. They are potentially now not only expanding their business activities but moving into politics as well.

Freedom Church’s quest for global growth is openly documented with their 10/04 programme that is hoping to establish a further 10 churches around the world in the next four years. What is not open is the links they have being closed doors in Herefordshire.

They are becoming a powerful public and private network involved in business, politics and social care. You only need to look through press reports, and indeed videos of their own sermons, to realise the religious message they preach is ugly and extremist.

Freedom Church accused of radicalisation

Freedom cultHereford-based cult Freedom Church have been accused of radicalising university students in south Wales.

Swansea University have taken steps to ‘protect’ students from Freedom’s “cultic style of operation”.
Suspicions were raised when a parent contacted university authorities worried that their child had been inducted into a cult.

In a statement head of student services, Kevin Child, said, “Concerns have been raised by various organisations and individuals in Wales and elsewhere about the operational methods used by the Freedom Church to recruit members by targeting vulnerable members of society and their cultic style of operation”.

He went on to say: “Swansea University is committed to the protection of its students through its safeguarding policy and the UK Prevent agenda, which urges public bodies, including education institutions, to have a critical role in preventing extremism, terrorism and radicalisation.”

In response to these concerns the university removed 250 posters from around campus advertising the church and banned them from holding services on university grounds. The university is also working with other organisations around Swansea to ensure student safety while off campus.

You’d think that the Snowzell clan who run Freedom Church would have learnt from past misdemeanours. It’s only two years since they were caught handing out sweets at Whitecross School. But it appears that their recruiting tactics have moved from dishing out Smarties to school children to far more sinister methods.

One Swansea University student who is said to have been ‘damaged’ by their time in the church, claims that Freedom are now using a ‘profiling system’ in which existing members approach new members as friends and use conversation to collect personal details to use to target them in future.

All this is extremely worrying. These people are based in Hereford and are exporting their brand of fundamentalist Christianity around the world. They have now opened churches in Belgium, Cambodia and Uganda.

Recently the old Marian Fathers residential home on Holme Lacy Road has been acquired by the church and renovated for a considerable sum to create their ‘international headquarters’.

But questions are now being asked about Freedom Church; about their beliefs, about their methods and about the source of their funding. People are well aware of the threat fundamentalist religious groups like Freedom Church pose.

Don’t be fooled by the slick videos and their ‘down with the kids’ attitude. These people are a danger to young people.

As we have seen recently, religious radicalisation of impressionable people can end in tragic ways.

Luther Blissett

Good riddance to Anthony Priddis

The Bishop of Hereford Anthony Priddis announced his resignation this week. He has cited, in part, the refusal of the Church of England to accept women bishops in his making this decision. On the surface he appears to be painting himself as a liberal minded Christian and has received sympathy and respect in standing up against the Church establishment.

Priddis, likes women, hates gays!

But Mr Priddis seems to think we have short memories. Back in 2007 he was voted Bigot of the Year by Stonewall. This was after he was found guilty of ‘discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation’ following his refusal to employ an openly gay youth worker. During a so-called job interview Priddis subjected the applicant to a series of humiliating questions about his past relationships. Clearly his ‘liberal’ views don’t extend to gay people.

But it comes as no surprise that a religious leader is a hypocrite. Just look at the Catholic church. You could laugh at this sex-obsessed fear-mongering religion if it wasn’t for the pain and suffering caused by those in power. Christian leaders don’t have the the monopoly on hypocrisy. Both Jewish and Islamic leaders will preach love and tolerance while suppressing the rights of women in the name of religion.

We are in no way claiming that all religious people are closet bigots like Priddis. On the contrary, the vast majority of people who subscribe to organised religions are probably lovely tolerant people. But they are lovely and tolerant in spite of their religion, not because of it. And it’s because of them that people like Priddis or Keith O’Brian, or even Abu Hamza and Rabbi Noson Leiter can continue to chat their shit.

We look forward to the day when people realise they can be decent human beings without needing the crutch of religion to prop up their morals. But until that day people like Priddis deserve to be shown for the charlatans they are.

What makes a war?

Heads are rolling at the BBC this week as the falsely accused Alistair McAlpine pursues the BBC for misinforming the public by alleging he was a paedophile. Well over £150,000 will be paid in compensation, and the BBC Director General, George Entwistle, has already resigned following the fiasco.

However, something quite different is happening in the BBC’s reporting of the events in Palestine.  The BBC have been carrying out a systematic manipulation and misinformation campaign since the launch of Operation Pillar of Cloud last week. And for those who followed the reporting of Cast Lead 4 years ago, it seems oh so familiar.

Phosphorus shells hit Gaza

So before people race to regurgitate the tripe the BBC manage to palm in to their ‘reporting’, know that before Israel launched Operation Pillar of Cloud, not 1 Israeli had been killed in 2012 by a Palestinian rocket. On the other hand, over 70 Palestinians have been killed in the last 11 months by Israeli jets, tanks and drones.1

Know that many of those who reside in Gaza are refugees who’s ancestors were driven from their homes by violence and force. Many have lived under Israeli military occupation their whole life and since 2007 have been blockaded in the worlds largest open-air prison, with Israel patrolling the seas, the land and the skies.

Know that what is happening is not a ‘religious war’. In fact it is not a war at all. What is happening right now is a slaughter of men, women and children by one side which has stolen and occupied the others land, imprisoned and tortured it’s people and uses the memory of all those who suffered through the anti-semitism in Europe 70 years ago to justify these actions.

Protest against Isreali aggression by Rabbis in New York

Last week, Israeli forces shot a 13 year old boy in his head as he was playing football in the Gaza strip. Following that instigation of violence, the Palestinian resistance responded by returning fire onto a military vehicle on the Eastern border. On Monday 5th November, Palestinian groups agreed to an informal truce which was again broken by Israel on Wednesday by the assassination of Ahmed Jabari, the head of Hamas’ military wing.

The BBC bare some responsibility for the ongoing atrocities in Gaza. Unlike the case of McAlpine, where money can settle a grievance, Gazans will die today, tomorrow and everyday Israel continues it’s offensive. By denying the context of what is happening now and deliberately misinforming the public, the BBC have become an important cog in Israel’s military machine. The BBC are complicit, not because they pay for the bombs or because they pull the triggers, but because they speak of a war when it is not. Because they speak of a Qassam rocket landing in the middle of nowhere, whilst at the same time a pregnant Palestinian women is blown in half by an Israeli F-16 attack.

This article finishes today as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu threatens another escalation of force. The UK Foreign Secretary’s response to that is to announce that ‘Hamas bare the principle responsibility’ for what is happening and that de-escalation can happen only if ‘Hamas stop firing rockets’.

Content without context is meaningless. By refusing to report the context of what is happening in Gaza today, the BBC distort the true meaning behind every rocket. This is not a fight between 2 equal sides, nor is it a war between 2 neighbouring states. This is a decades old military occupation. There is a resistance to that occupation. But unless pressure is put on Israel to stop the slaughter now, there will be another massacre in Gaza in the coming weeks.

By Moqlieh


UNITED NATIONS Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory Protection of Civilians Weekly Report, 31 October – 6 November 2012

A Right Old Christian Ruckus

Five footballers are facing year long bans after a match between two church sides descended into a mass brawl. Zion Athletic and Common Ground United are both members of the West Midlands Christian League, a league set up to promote peace and understanding!

Trouble flared up early in the second half of the match with Zion leading 5-1. Zion players have been accused of bating United players after a penalty decision went their way. As a fight ensued a United player who had earlier been sent off ran back onto the pitch to get stuck in.

Common Ground United, Jesus told them to fight!

In a league where bad language is a sending off offence and spitting and arguing are ‘frowned upon’, last weekends game was abandoned with five United players on ‘violent conduct’ charges.

Tony Sadia, Common Grounds founder, has claimed that his players were provoked. “It’s devastating and shocking” he told reporters ”we don’t condone this sort of behaviour.”

But investigations by the Heckler suggest that the league as a whole DOES condone this behaviour. The leagues mission statement reads that players are expected to behave “both on and off the pitch in a manner morally, decently and ethically sound of action and speech, honouring the name of Jesus Christ”.

Anyone whose read anything of the Bible would be aware that the levels of violence on that football pitch last Saturday falls well below what is expected of a good Christian.

 Mr Sadia went on to say that “Some of our players have had a bad course in life. By going to church, you don’t expect it to change overnight. Sometimes they go off the rails”.

While it may seem laudable to help these vulnerable young men, you have to wonder if they are spoiling the beautiful game by bringing religion into it. Football and Christianity, in particular, have never made good bed fellows, and besides, science is yet to prove that having an imaginary friend increases your goal keeping skills!!