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A London Baptist church was the focus of protests after hosting a carol concert organized by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).

Dozens of people recently waved Israeli flags and handed out flyers outside Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church.

Several heated exchanges occurred between supporters of both sides. More than 200 people attended the service, titled Voices of Bethlehem, featuring readings from playwright Caryl Churchill, whose play, “Seven Jewish Children,” has been accused in some quarters of being anti-Semitic.

David Gifford, chief executive of the Council for Christians and Jews, is one of a number of groups to criticize the church for hosting the event. He said, “A Christmas carol service should be about the message of Christmas and by politicizing that, it misses the point.”

Others have criticized the PSC for its support of Hamas’ right to govern in Gaza, where it won elections.

Rev. Simon Perry, a minister at Bloomsbury, revealed the decision was not taken lightly by the church – and that he supported the event. He said there was a distinction between “supporting the people of Palestine and being active endorsers of all that Hamas stands for.”

“I’d be very surprised if people here would not endorse the PSC,” he said. “There is nothing I have seen in anything it has done that I find disturbing. I’ve researched every critique but I find none of them convincing.”

“I’ve read Caryl Churchill’s play and there is nothing in it I find anti-Semitic,” he added.

“We’ll face the consequences of standing by who we stand by – and can’t balance everything we do.”

This article appeared originally in The Baptist Times of Great Britain.

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