Two preachers were charged, tried, and convicted on “public order offenses” in Great Britain, but it’s what they did that is drawing attention.
Liberals tend to laugh at the phrase “war on Christianity,” but here we have an example of just that. Of course, the main-stream media has no intention of bringing this story to light.
According to prosecutor Ian Jackson, preaching from the Bible should “be considered to be abusive and is a criminal matter.”
Michael Overd, and Michael Stockwell are “street-preachers” who were arrested back in June of 2016 for preaching the Gospel in public. According to the prosecutor, the two men were guilty of using “threatening or abusive words.”
The prosecutor says that “although the words preached are included in a version of the Bible in 1611, this does not mean that they are incapable of amounting to a public order offense in 2016.”
“To say to someone that Jesus is the only God is not a matter of truth. To the extent that they are saying that the only way to God is through Jesus, that cannot be a truth.”
Andrea Williams, Christian Legal Centre CEO, says that this case “raises huge questions about the state of freedom of speech and freedom of religion in the UK.”
“The Bible and its teachings are the foundation of our society and provided many of the freedoms and protections that we still enjoy today. So it is extraordinary that the prosecution, speaking on behalf of the state, could say that the Bible contains abusive words which, when spoken in public, constitute a criminal offense.”
The organization is representing the two preachers in hopes to prevent the courts from labeling the Bible as hate speech. Michael Phillips, the courtroom representative for the preachers, believes that “this prosecution is nothing more than a modern-day heresy trial – dressed up under the Public Order Act.”
“Every negative remark about other religions and ways of life are taken straight from those texts. The preachers do not use inflammatory language, but simply the language of the Bible. If it is the case that the crown seeks to ban biblical scripture, that would be a bold move.
We need to stand against the movement which says it’s only ok to say things that don’t offend others. That might be nice for people in the short term, but it is not beneficial in the long term.”
After a four-day trial, the court found the two men guilty for using “threatening or abusive words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress.”
In their ruling, the magistrates of the court said that “we feel it has been proved that both defendants’ behaviour went beyond preaching the virtues of their religion.” In turn, the men were each fined, but they are appealing the ruling.
According to ChristianConcern.com, the Crown Prosecution Service is also pursuing criminal charges for daring to preach God’s word. That hearing is expected to begin sometime in May.
The Preachers Respond
After the ruling came down, Mr. Stockwell said that he and his friend were preaching out of love for their fellow man, not hate. He said the two were hoping to expose others to “God’s message of love,” but were discouraged at how their message was being distorted as hate.
“Our motivation for public preaching is love. We want people to have access to the good news about Jesus Christ. I am shocked that God’s message of love, is now considered hateful and dangerous. Today, speaking God’s truth seems to be a hate crime, according to some.
There is a very disturbing pattern here. We declare Jesus’ message and critique rival beliefs such as Islam. Some people don’t like what we say, and threaten violence to silence us. Then, instead of defending free speech and protecting us, the police shut down free speech to avoid public disorder. And then a court convicts us of provoking disorder and risking violence!
Something has gone badly wrong. This gives a green light to Islamists and other groups to silence speech that they don’t like, simply by threatening disorder or violence.
Freedom of speech is under assault. People should be free to express their beliefs in public, without risk of harm, violence or other repercussions.”
The media likes to pretend there isn’t a war on Christianity, but that’s because they choose to ignore stories like this. All these men did was preach the truth from God’s word, and now they are being punished by the law. Now, more than ever, the body of Christ needs to stand united!