A Christian street preacher has been arrested in Britain, accusing of telling a woman that homosexuality is a sin, and alarms are being raised that such actions soon are coming to the United States.
The case in Britain involves 42-year-old Baptist Dale McAlpine, who was preaching in the Workington section of Cumbria, England, recently when he was arrested and charged with using abusive language under the 1986 Public Order Act, which originally was written to deal with abusive soccer fans.
Published reports explain McAlpine told a woman before his sermon that homosexuality is a sin. Then after the sermon, a police community support officer confronted McAlpine about the conversation. The officer notified other officers, who then handcuffed McAlpine and took him to jail for questioning.
According to Mike Judge of the Christian Institute, police should not have made an arrest.
“We believe the police have overstepped the law. He has pleaded not guilty and a criminal trial has been set for September. He is being prosecuted under Section 5 of the Public Order Act. The Act outlaws ‘threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior’ within the hearing ‘of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress.’ But the law includes a defense of reasonable conduct. The peaceful expression of Christian beliefs about sexual ethics is reasonable conduct in a free and democratic society,” Judge said.
Liberty Counsel Cultural Affairs Analyst Matt Barber raised the warning that such cases will be seen more and more in America, too.
“We know that what’s happening in Europe and what’s happening in Canada offers us a window into the future of what will happen here in the United States,” he said. “The hate crimes laws and employment sexual orientation laws such as ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act here in the United States, have been the precursor to the more oppressive hate speech laws,” Barber explained.
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“Make no mistake, those laws we have now for hate crimes and the more present danger with ENDA, these laws are the precursor in the U. S. for the same kind of criminalization of Christianity that’s happening in the U. K.,” Barber said.
Judge said as in the U.S., British law supposedly protects the freedom of religious expression.
“The law does protect free speech in the UK and it is not a crime to express the belief that homosexual conduct is wrong. However, there have been a number of troubling cases where the police have overstepped the law,” Judge said.
New Zealand-born evangelist Ray Comfort, who runs the Living Waters ministry in California, said it’s tragic that a free country like Britain has taken such a dangerous turn.
“I find it hard to believe that modern England – with its rich Christian heritage (John Wesley, Whitefield, Spurgeon, etc.) would go to the extreme of arresting a man for his beliefs,” Comfort said.
“I think that this is a case of two police officers being offended at the gospel, and that was the motive for the arrest,” Comfort said.
But he said that’s not a surprise.
“This is to be expected from a world that loves the darkness and hates the light. Christians will be hated whenever they preach the gospel and make a stand for that which is right and good. They will be hated for the same reason a criminal hates a police officer. It’s not the individual who is hated, but the ‘badge’ for which he stands,” he said.
Barber added that the goal of the radical homosexual lobby is to silence Christians.
“Their goal is to silence any dissent and to silence under any penalty of law the Biblical recognition and expression of a traditional Judeo-Christian world view relative to sexual behavior and sexual morality,” Barber said.
He warned if unchecked, the radical homosexual lobby will ensure that the U.S. goes the same direction as Britain.
“We’ve seen the same kind of vague language and loopholes that are used to prosecute Mr. McAlpine in Great Britain show up in laws employed here in the United States to prosecute individuals for non-violent speech, for simply sharing a Biblical world view relative to sexual morality,” Barber said.
He cited the well-known case of the “Philadelphia 11,” Christians arrested for witnessing at a homosexual rally.
“The 11 people who were arrested and charged with a hate crime for sharing the Gospel at a Philadelphia gay pride event is an example of the trend. They could have been put in prison for 47 years,” Barber said.
Judge said this is not the first time cases like this have happened.
“In June 2005, 21-year-old Oxford student Sam Brown was arrested under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 and fined 80 British pounds after joking to a mounted police officer, ‘How do you feel about your horse being gay?’ He was taken to police station and held in a cell until the morning. The fine was later overturned,” Judge said.
“In October 2007, Landlord Adrian Taylor was convicted under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 for a sign outside his pub that read ‘faggots and mince not on the menu.’ This was taken by the previous owners of the pub, a homosexual couple, as an insult against them, and a complaint was made to the police. The case ultimately resulted in a 500 pound fine. A crude and tasteless joke, yes. But a crime?” Judge said.
“In April 2002, pensioner Harry Hammond, suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, and was convicted and fined 300 pounds plus 395 pounds costs. When preaching in Bournemouth town centre, Mr. Hammond held up a sign saying: ‘Stop Immorality’, ‘Stop Homosexuality’, ‘Stop Lesbianism’, and ‘Jesus is Lord’,” Judge said.
“Mr. Hammond was physically attacked by a group of protesters. Despite being forced to the ground and having mud and water thrown over him, it was Mr. Hammond that was arrested, prosecuted and convicted under section 5 of the Public Order Act. One of the police officers on duty disagreed with his colleague over the arrest and he appeared as a witness for the defense,” Judge said.
“In September 2006, police arrested and charged Stephen Green for handing out evangelistic tracts at a ‘gay’ pride festival in Cardiff. Police admitted that he had not behaved in a violent or aggressive manner, but confirmed that officers arrested him because the leaflets contained biblical quotes about homosexuality,” Judge said.
“Mr. Green was held at a police station for four hours, questioned, charged and eventually committed for trial. The case against Mr. Green was subsequently dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service,” Judge said.
Comfort says McAlpine is holding his own even with the difficulties.
“When I heard of the arrest, I called Mr. McAlpine to encourage him and let him know that we would keep him in prayer. I found that Mr. AcAlpine was in very good spirits because he understood that, but he was still in a state of shock that they went to the extreme of an arrest,” Comfort said.
McAlpine is free on bail on condition that he not preach in public.