Joel Thornton

A Christian minister who has been arrested twice previously in Oslo for talking about Jesus in public now has been chased from the city center by police officers with the threat of yet another arrest if he returns, according to a lawyer who is working on his case.

Joel Thornton of the International Human Rights Group told WND today that Larry Keffer, who works through the Biblical Research Center in Tampa, Fla., was among a team of Christians trying to proclaim the message of Christ during the recent visit to the city by President Obama.

Obama was in Oslo to accept a Nobel Peace Prize for which he was nominated days after he took office in the United States. Obama admitted he had few accomplishments and used his speech to defend the use of war just nine days after ordering 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

Keffer, whose previous arrests came while he was working with Norwegian evangelist Petar Keseljevic and whose cases still are being challenged, was working with other American evangelists, including Ruben Israel, this week in Oslo.

Thornton reported the evangelists arrived with banners in front of the Nobel commission offices to proclaim the Gospel message before, during and after the Nobel presentation to Obama.

“They brought banners with messages about abortion, change, homosexuality, and Old Testament Scriptures regarding the effects of wickedness upon any nation. One of the banners stated that Hitler was wrong for killing the Jews, and abortion is also wrong,” Thornton said.

Almost immediately, police agents told the evangelists to remove their banners and their signs, then move across the street, even though the nation’s laws formally recognize freedom of speech.

“A few minutes later the Oslo police again approached the evangelists and ordered them to lower their voices. Again, the evangelists complied with the order of the police.
At this point the Oslo police ordered the evangelists to stop sharing their message or be arrested based on the Oslo police law. Oslo police stated that they were ordering them to leave because they were afraid of a riot – even though there was no one in the crowd who was upset about the message being delivered by the evangelists,” Thornton reported.

Then, as the evangelists prepared to leave, they were told they were banned from the center of Oslo for 24 hours and would be arrested if they returned under any circumstances.

At the American embassy, they were told they could call a telephone line for citizens if they wanted to lodge a complaint. Thornton said Runa Bunaes, the chief of operations for the Oslo police, confirmed she would stand by the orders of the officers on the streets.

Thornton said the three were making plans to return.

“It seems that Oslo is not interested in permitting Christian speech in public areas during any outdoor event,” he said.

The Nobel award surprised many because of Obama’s brief tenure in office. According to a Quinnipiac poll, only 26 percent of respondents believed Obama deserved the award.

In a commentary written for WND, Walter E. Williams, the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, said he was embarrassed on Obama’s behalf by the nomination.

“He must have felt a bit embarrassed as well,” Williams wrote. “He said, ‘To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who have been honored by this prize.'”

“Typically,” Williams observed, “the Nobel Prize is awarded to someone, or an organization, that has actually done something, even if that something is controversial or unwise.”

The previous encounter with police by Keffer and Petar Keseljevic took place last year. The two were sharing their faith calmly and quietly during the Norwegian Independence Day Celebration when officers made them leave the area of the Royal Palace.

Officers soon chased them down at a new location and arrested them.

The men’s work is shown in a YouTube video:

Their actual arrest is shown in another YouTube video:

They were convicted in Norway, but an appeal was filed with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.


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