The Archbishop of York received racist and threatening messages just days after he voiced his support for traditional marriage, sparking a police hate crime investigation.
Earlier the Archbishop’s office confirmed that North Yorkshire Police had been called in following a number of “abusive and threatening emails of a racist nature”.
Last week Dr John Sentamu told The Daily Telegraph that marriage must remain between a man and a woman, but his comments provoked outrage amongst gay rights campaigners and led to a protest at York Minster.
It is the latest in a spate of incidents where supporters of traditional marriage have been attacked for publicly declaring their views.
A spokeswoman for Dr Sentamu said: “A large quantity of correspondence was received in response to the Archbishop’s interview with The Daily Telegraph, which touched on a wide range of issues.
“Amongst many positive emails that he has received, there have been a small number of abusive and threatening emails of a racist nature which North Yorkshire Police are investigating as hate crimes.”
Mike Judge from The Christian Institute said: “This clearly demonstrates some of the hostility towards people who speak out in support of traditional marriage.
“It would be good for this debate to be conducted with courtesy and respect by all sides.”
Dr Sentamu, the Church of England’s second most senior Bishop, had warned the Government not to ride roughshod over centuries of tradition by changing the definition of marriage, saying that they would face a rebellion over the issue.
But Peter Tatchell, a prominent homosexual activist, said: “Archbishop Sentamu is a religious authoritarian who wants to impose his personal opposition to same-sex marriage on the rest of society.”
Last year Adrian Smith, a housing manager with Trafford Housing Trust, was demoted and had his salary slashed by 40 per cent after he commented on Facebook that registering civil partnerships in churches was “an equality too far”.
The Westminster Government is set to launch a consultation on redefining marriage in March.