N.B. The Bank of Scotland should not be confused with the Royal Bank of Scotland.
At 2:50 today, Saturday, 10th April, 8 gay activists from OutRage! descended upon the Bank of Scotland stand at London’s Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition, challenging staff to explain the massive joint business venture with the notorious US right-wing fundamentalist Dr. Pat Robertson, handing out leaflets to exhibition visitors, and displaying placards with the slogans:
Robertson, founder of an organisation which calls itself the Christian Coalition, (which he describes as “people of faith working together to become the unified voice of families with children in middle-class America”), is on record as opposing almost every other group: women, Moslems, Hindus, gay men and lesbians, … Twenty-five percent of the profits of the new subsidiary will go straight to the campaign coffers of his fundamentalist fanatics.
The Bank acknowledge that “Robertson is well known for his personal views, particularly on abortion and homosexuality”, but initially attempted to maintain that “these views do not reflect in any way on our continuing commitment to providing the highest levels of service to all members of the community”. However, BoS Treasurer Gavin Masterton conceded in the Scottish Sunday Herald, (28th March), that profits from Robertson’s involvement in the venture will end up funding his ultra-right-wing campaigns.
The Church of Scotland has condemned the deal in very strong terms; and Action for Churches Together in Scotland (ACTS), representing nearly all Scotland’s 1.5 million church members and including all main denominations, was widely reported to have advised all member churches to withdraw accounts, (although their official position as of 17th April is that they have not yet taken this action, but neither have they ruled it out). Edinburgh City Council has passed a censure motion; and other Scottish local authorities, including Shetland Islands and East Lothian are expected to follow.
Despite this well-documented background, which led to £1 billion being wiped off BoS share values in March, staff at the stand denied all details of the scandal.
Robertson has shown in the past that he has little respect for regulations. His Christian Broadcasting Network was fined a large sum last year by the U.S. tax authorities for illegally funding his U.S. Presidential bid to the tune of 8.5 million dollars.
“People should know what their money is funding. Robertson is a politician who actively promotes racism, sexism and homophobia in a national political campaign”, said Gordon Lee, one of the protesters.
PRESS COPY: Simon Bebbington (ISF reporter) 0378-30.76.36
PHOTOS OF PROTEST: Jack Bagha (ISF photographer) 0370-48.29.09
Quotes from Robertson
“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practise witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” — Fundraising letter, 1992.
“When I said during my presidential bid that I would only bring Christians and Jews into the government, I hit a firestorm. ‘What do you mean?’ the media challenged me. ‘You’re not going to bring atheists into the government? How dare you maintain that those who believe in the Judeo-Christian values are better qualified to govern America than Hindus and Muslims?’ My simple answer is, ‘Yes, they are.'” — Pat Robertson’s “The New World Order”, page 218.
(talking about apartheid South Africa) “I think ‘one man, one vote,’ just unrestricted democracy, would not be wise. There needs to be some kind of protection for the minority which the white people represent now, a minority, and they need and have a right to demand a protection of their rights.” — Pat Robertson, “The 700 Club”, 18-March-1992
To complain to the Bank of Scotland
To complain to the Bank to complain about this alliance with Pat Robertson ring their Head Office on 0131-442 7777, or Freephone 0500-31.31.11, (or 0800-43.52.14 for Bank of Scotland Freeway – a motor vehicle contract purchase scheme). Note that telephone calls may be recorded for security purposes and may be monitored under the Bank’s Quality Control procedures.
If you are not a BoS customer, insist on having your complaint registered as a concerned person or group. If you are a BoS customer, consider taking your business elsewhere and let the Head Office and your branch know you are considering this.
Note that on 22nd March the BoS appointed Jack Irvine, former Sun editor, and now a PR consultant specialising in crisis management, to defend the deal publicly for them. Irvine is well-known for his homophobic views. Writing last year in the Scottish Daily Mirror in response to the House of Commons vote to equalise the age of consent, he described gay men as “Slobbering queers who want to get their hands on 16 year-old boys’ bottoms”.
Gay rights protesters picket bank show stand
Demonstration at Ideal Home Exhibition over link with US evangelist Robertson
TANYA THOMPSON, The Scotsman, 12-April-1999
THE BANK of Scotland has suffered further embarrassment over its links with the right-wing US television evangelist, Pat Robertson, after its stand at the Ideal Home Exhibition in London was picketed by gay rights activists.
Bemused visitors attending the event at Earls Court watched as members of OutRage! waved placards and shouted abuse in protest at the bank’s involvement with Dr Robertson.
Protesters took exception to the Bank of Scotland/Mastercard slogan: “The card that shows you care” and brandished their own banners with the words: “Bank of Scotland in bed with American fascists”.
One of the activists, Gordon Lee, 30, from Edinburgh, distributed leaflets to hundreds of people visiting the exhibition on Saturday afternoon. He said: “We think customers of the Bank of Scotland should know what their money may be funding – which is a far-right fundamentalist organisation. Robertson is opposed to every minority group.”
Ludeger Janning, a nurse who worked with gay and lesbian groups in Germany, said: “Ordinary people have a lot of power. They can close their accounts. Hopefully the bank will react.”
The demonstrators were ushered outside by security guards where they continued their protest.
OutRage! also singled out Jack Irvine, the Bank of Scotland’s new public relations spokesman, accusing him of making “grossly homophobic” comments about the gay ageof consent in his column in the Scottish Daily Mirror last year.
The group said he called homosexuals “slobbering queers”. Last night, Mr Irvine was in the United States and unavailable for comment.
On 2 March the bank announced it was setting up a new direct banking venture with Dr Robertson, who will have a25 per cent stake.
Dr Robertson, a fundamentalist preacher, has been criticised by civil libertarians who believe his past praise for right-wing dictatorships makes him an unacceptable partner for a Scottish institution with a good record for community involvement. He had been criticised for his views on the status of women, gays and ethnic minority religions.
He told the Wall Street Journal last week that the Scots’ reaction has made him less proud of his Scottish ancestry. However, last night there were serious doubts about the authenticity of his Celtic links.
The Bank of Scotland had said that Dr Robertson’s Scottish forebear left the Highlands and sailed for America in 1695, the year the bank was founded. The Church of Scotland’s records, widely regarded as one of the best genealogical sources, show no trace of his ancestors.
Last night, a spokesman for the Bank of Scotland said it had not verified Dr Robertson’s family history and it had no intention of doing so. “If Pat Robertson says his ancestors are from Scotland we have no reason to doubt him. If people have evidence that his ancestors weren’t Scottish then let’s see it.”
In the five weeks since the deal was announced, the bank has been inundated with requests from customers demanding to know why it has chosen to do business with Dr Robertson. A significant number of personal accounts have been closed and a number of businesses, including fund managers and councils, are considering their position with the bank.
Last night, David Allison, a spokesman for OutRage! said the organisation would continue its fight.
He said: “We are keeping up the pressure and we are determined to press on with the campaign against the Bank of Scotland. This is not just a nine-day wonder which will go away. Saturday’s demonstration had a huge impact. It was the busiest day of the exhibition and we generated a lot of interest.”
Bank of Scotland threaten to sue OutRage!
The OutRage! action on 10th April protesting against the Bank of Scotland’s proposed joint venture with the American extreme right-wing evangelist Pat Robertson was well-reported in the “Scotsman”, (Monday, 12th); and a full-page article on the deal appeared in the “Independent”, (Wednesday, 14th).
The Bank of Scotland’s Legal Department then rang OutRage! on Thursday, 15th April, alleging that the opposition by the Scottish churches was less than we stated, and threatening to sue. — Interestingly, they did not complain of any other inaccuracies: on the proposed deal, Pat Robertson, his fascist opinions and quotations, or the opposition from Scottish councils.
On Saturday, 17th April ACTS issued a press release, stating their current opposition to the deal.
ACTS Press Release, 17-April-1999
The following statement is issued today, April 17th, by the General Secretary, Dr. Kevin Franz, on behalf of Central Council.
The Central Council of ACTS views with deep concern the proposed link between the Bank of Scotland and Robertson Financial Services. That concern is rooted in the Scottish churches’ understanding of their vocation to bring the good news of God’s love to the people of our nation, and to promote the building of a society of love and justice with all people of good will. As the ecumenical body representing some 1.5 million Scottish Christians we view with abhorrence the reported views of Dr. Pat Robertson on the role of women, on homosexuals, on people of other faiths, and what it means to be a Christian. We express our great surprise and regret that the Bank of Scotland should have failed to take Dr. Robertson’s very public views into account when planning its project, and instead to subordinate moral questions to purely commercial considerations. The business community understands the integral Iink between the practice of business and ethics.
The Central Council recognises the particular vocation it has as the agent of the Scottish churches and as a customer of the Bank. At this stage our desire is to allow time to the Bank to reconsider, although we do not rule out the withdrawal of ACTS’ accounts.
Central Council today calls upon the Bank as a matter of urgency to pursue its dialogue with the churches, and to enter into dialogue with the other faith communities in Scotland. We call upon the Bank to Iisten to the deep concern of people of faith.
Central Council invites its member churches to address themselves to this whole matter and to take all appropriate action.
Bank of Scotland cancel deal, 5-June-1999
The Bank of Scotland announced that “Dr. Pat Robertson and Peter Burt, following a meeting in Boston yesterday (Friday), agreed that the changed external circumstances made the proposed joint venture between Robertson Financial Services (RFS) and Bank of Scotland unfeasible,” after Robertson told his television viewers that Scotland was a “dark land” where homosexuals ruled the roost: “In Scotland, you can’t believe how strong the homosexuals are. It’s just simply unbelievable”. Poor Pat Robertson claims a TV audience of 55 million, who sent him $167m in donations in 1997.
The Bank acknowledged that up to 500 people had switched their accounts to other banks; but was more concerned by a 4% drop in their share price, and by threats from institutional customers including the new Scottish Parliament, West Lothian Council, and the Scottish TUC.