Tuesday, two street preachers were convicted in England for engaging in a verbal skirmish last July in which they quoted the Bible to a crowd including Muslims and LGBT supporters.
The British magistrate convicted Michael Overd and Michael Stockwell of disorderly conduct and using “threatening and abusive words … likely to cause alarm.” The men were both fined roughly $370 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of $37. They’ll also have to jointly pay court costs of over $4,000. A Criminal Order Behavior application will be made against Overd in May. The two men may face six motnsh in jail.
Chief Inspector Andy Williams defended the arrests, saying:
The police have to strike the balance between the right to freedom of expression and free speech and behavior that causes a member of the public to feel harassed, alarmed or distressed as a result of what is said or done. The court has determined that these men crossed that line and used their platform to comment on other religions and sexuality using disparaging and offensive language. They recorded their preaching on a GoPro camera which captured the exact words used and the reaction of those listening. They were fully aware of the impact their preaching was having on their audience and the resulting tension it was causing.”
As Christianconcern.com reported, Prosecutor Ian Jackson told the court, “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 offence 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.”
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