Manifestation of Beliefs

There are situations when people argue with each other. Having different views is normal and expected as we all have different parents, traditions, religions and experiences. But, when it is about homosexuality the situation is slightly different as you can get arrested for expressing different views than those of homosexuals. But, is that legal? 

Case of an evangelist Tony Rollins, a 49 years old preacher shows that it is not legal to punish someone for opposing homosexuality. But, sharing such views can certainly meet with unpleasant responses from authorities. This is what happened to Mr Rollins who got arrested for talking in the public about sanctity of marriage. Fortunately, the court found that it was not a public order offence. 
Image result for reading bible in public
But, his problems did not end there. His second arrest took place in Coventry for sharing with the public his views about how homosexuality can negatively influence the society. What is surprising about the case is that the West Midlands police pointed to quotes from the Bible as especially offensive. Why is it surprising? The answer is obvious-because these were not his own words. Besides, the Bible is not on a list of banned by the government books. So, it was unjust to charge him with section 4(1) of the Public Order Act 1986 for “using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour”. 

Fortunately, he was found not guilty. Moreover, in 2010 the County Court awarded him £4250 compensation to be paid by the West Midlands Police for unlawful detention and arrest. 

Nevertheless, he was discriminated because of his religious beliefs after he got arrested because his King James Bible was taken away. The reason the officers gave for doing that is that the Bible was to be used as evidence. However, the book was not used during his trial. Regardless, he was not able to regain it for the whole 8 months after his release.

It must have been very frustrating for him that even after he went to the police station to ask for the book he was told that he cannot get it at the time. Moreover, during his next visit there the officer told him that they could not find his address or contact number to give it back to him.  But, previously they sent him bail notice and the date of his court case. Besides, they talked with him on the phone so they must have had his number.
Another issue is that while he was in a cell he was not given the Bible after he asked for it several times. In comparison at the same time there was an Asian prisoner who could read Koran after he asked for it. It clearly shows discrimination of Christians.

Dale McAlpine, a 42 years old Baptist street preacher was also arrested for telling a passer-by something which is obvious to Christians-  that homosexuality is a sin. Causing harassment, alarm or distress is how this act was called. It is a crime under s.4A and s.5 of the Public Order Act 1986.
Another “terrible” thing he did was quoting fragments of the Bible about homosexuality. Although, it is normal for Christians who read the Bible every day, it was considered to be offensive by a homosexual police community support officer who overheard him.

As his subjective view about the quote was not enough to arrest him, the police officer argued that Mr McAlpine could be overheard by others while using “insulting and abusive” language. Sam Webster, solicitor and advocate for the Christian Institute, referred to this allegation by explaining that saying that homosexuality is a sin is not a criminal offence. 

Another thing about which the police officer complained was that Mr McAlpine handed out leaflets and talked about Ten Commandments. This is exactly what priests do at mass, parents do it while raising their children, and theologians explain Ten Commandments during religious studies lessons. Then, why was it considered to be offensive when McAlpine did it?

Although, logic and common sense suggest that the defendant did nothing wrong, the preacher was released on bail only on a condition that he will not preach in public places. Does it mean that priests reading the Bible at mass in churches which are also public places commit an offence of causing harassment, alarm or distress every Sunday? Certainly not.

Nevertheless, such cases are not rare at all as the same situation happened to Michael Overd, a Christian pastor in 2015. So, it is possible for consecrated people to get arrested for doing their job after all. This is exactly what he was doing- quoting the Bible in public.

The fragment of the Bible says: “if a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13). The police considered it to be threatening and abusive. 

It is probably not common to threaten someone with a quote but he was found guilty anyway. The judge, Shamim Qureshi ordered him to pay a £250 fine plus compensation to the homosexual for emotional damage totalling £1200. After he refused to pay it the judge said that he could give him a sentence of 45 days imprisonment. Following this way of thinking, if listening to the Bible can cause emotional damage parishioners at masses should receive warnings about the possible threat. 

But, the truth is that the Bible is not offensive in any part. Therefore, the pastor said after the trial that he cannot be told what parts of the Bible to teach about. Fortunately, his appeal was allowed.

But, people can be arrested even for what they wrote. One of such persons was Harry Hammond, a pensioner who was found guilty of an offence under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 in 2002. Holding a sign which said: “Stop immorality. Stop homosexuality. Stop lesbianism. Jesus is lord” while he was preaching in Bournemouth was an offence. However, he was expressing his opinion based on his faith. Why was it not considered to fall within freedom of religion and expression? It is because rights of homosexuals deserved higher protection than those of Christians, according to the British courts.

There are many more cases where Christians were arrested for what they thought was their right to religion under Art 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Steven Green, a Christian campaigner arrested in 2006 gave religious leaflets is such an example. He drew attention of authorities because what he was doing offended homosexuals during their festival in Cardiff. But, fortunately the case was dropped which suggests that sometimes Christians get protection of their rights under the British justice system.