Growing spectre of persecution in Britain

Posted: May 15, 2010 in Persecuted
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Posted on May 14, 2010 | by Michael Foust

LONDON (BP)–A shocking video has emerged showing a Baptist street preacher in the United Kingdom being arrested for calling homosexuality a sin.

Newspaper stories about 42-year-old Dale Mcalpine have received attention in the United Kingdom and the United States, but the video — which Mcalpine recorded with a hidden camera — did not surface publicly until May 14. It lasts just under two minutes and makes it clear that he was arrested for expressing a biblical view of homosexuality.

According to the Telegraph newspaper, Mcalpine was arrested April 20 in the British town of Workington for causing “harassment, alarm or distress” after a police officer — who happened to be homosexual — overheard him telling a woman that 1 Corinthians forbids homosexuality. The officer warned him to be quiet, and when he didn’t, he was arrested.

Mcalpine was charged and jailed for seven hours under what is known as the Public Order Act, although charges were dropped May 13, the Daily Mail reported. But despite the fact that he is now out of legal trouble, his arrest was a chilling blow to religious speech in the country and should serve as a lesson for the rest of the world, his supporters say.

“England, the U.S. and other Western nations share the same legal, political and religious traditions,” Mike Judge, a spokesman for the Christian Institute in the U.K., told Baptist Press. “If this can happen in England, it can happen where you live. Christians need to be aware that small changes in the law can lead to big changes in the culture. If you want to be free to share the Gospel, you must defend that liberty in the public square. Don’t hide in your churches; get out there and engage in the culture. Do it wisely, graciously, with excellence and with courage.”

Mcalpine told the Daily Mail, “You couldn’t have made it up. It was crazy. I hope this result guarantees freedom of speech for everyone in future…. I have never been arrested in my life. It was an embarrassing experience. They treated me like a common criminal.”

The video, which shows several police officers surrounding Mcalpine, can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/user/christianorguk#p/u/0/12LtOKQ8U7c.

Following is the transcript of the exchange:

Mcalpine: “We’re not out here to break any laws. We want to abide by the law. There isn’t any law against saying that them things are sins. There isn’t any law against that.”

Police: “Hello sir. What’ve you been saying, homophobic-wise?”

Mcalpine: “Well, homophobia is hatred towards homosexuals. That’s the definition of homophobia but I’m not a homophobia [sic]. I spoke to your officer earlier and he was upset that I was saying homosexuality was a sin — which is what the Bible says. And I affirm that’s what I say because that’s in the Bible. And there’s no law, there’s no law …”

Police: “Well there is.”

Mcalpine: “No there isn’t.”

Police: “There is. Unfortunately, mate, it’s a breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act.”

Mcalpine: “It actually isn’t.”

Police: “Sir, it’s a …”

Mcalpine: “We wouldn’t do that because if it was against the law, y’know. Lord Carey, was it Lord — the guy who passed that law in the Houses of Parliament recently — the free speech [inaudible].”

Police: “[inaudible] It protects free speech to a degree but [inaudible].”

Mcalpine’s friend: “Actually, I certainly didn’t. These two gentlemen listened to probably all I’ve said. I certainly never mentioned homosexuality.

Police: “Yeah, we know.”

Mcalpine: “The only time I mentioned it was when I was talking to this gentleman here. When I was up on the steps preaching, I didn’t mention it. Even so, y’know, it still is not against the law.”

Police: “It is against the law. Listen, mate, we’re pretty sure. You’re under arrest for a racially aggravated Section 5 Public Order offence. You don’t have to say anything but it may harm your defense if you do not mention when questioned something which you later rely on in court. Anything you do say may be given in evidence.”

Mcalpine: “Fair enough.”

Police: OK. “Do you want to walk this way to our van?”
–30–
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.

http://baptistpress.com/BPnews.asp?ID=32939

Update on this case: By  Tue 18 May the case against  Dale Mcalpine has been dropped.

  • “After reviewing the evidence, crown prosecutors decided last week to discontinue the prosecution of Dale Mcalpine, as reported by the Christian Institute.”
  • “It was a ridiculous charge, I should never have been arrested,” the 42-year-old preacher said. “I’m relieved that they have seen sense.

Meanwhile, Chief Superintendent Steve Johnson, police commander for West Cumbria, said balancing the law and people’s rights isn’t easy, especially when opinions and interpretations differ.

While reassuring the public that they respect and are committed to upholding the fundamental right to freedom of expression, Johnson said they are just as committed to “maintaining the peace  and preventing people feeling alarmed or distressed by the actions of others in public places.

As Christians this issue should never have  arisen.  There was a time when Churches used to meet in the town squares and hold services and preach the word of God without fear of arrest or persecution.  Now if some passer by gets offended the police can be called and the preacher arrested.  It does not matter if any real offence was given.  Only the percieved offence seems to be all it takes.  Clealry the Law is unclear in these matters and the rights of Christians are being slowly eroded.

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