Share this article:
Freedom of speech is under attack in England in yet another legal case where European anti-Christian and multicultural sentiment has trumped both core liberties and Biblical truth.
Street preachers Michael Overd (UK), Michael Stockwell (US), were both arrested for publicly preaching the Bible on the streets of Bristol in July of 2016.
Unable to charge them directly with religious offenses in court, the docket lists their offense as "violating the Crime and Disorder Act" a law which bans speech or behavior that results in "intentional harassment, alarm or distress" that is "racially or religiously aggravated."
The guilty verdict was handed down on February 28th of this year and the fine set at just under the equivalent of $2,500 for each man.
Preaching on a range of issues and with the King James translation of the Bible as their support, the men engaged with passersby and answered the questions of those who stopped to listen.
According to evidence submitted at court, the questions and answers dealt with Buddhism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Islam, homosexuality, Hell and a good many other topics both moral and religious.
According to the police, the arrest came when bystanders were offended by the preaching or the responses they received to their questions.
The arrest was caught on video and recorded seconds before the men were approached by officers with Overd declaring that "The purpose of mankind is to worship God and enjoy Him. You need to obey God and obey His commands.
I hated His commands once and I remember what that mind frame is--it is like banging your head against a brick wall."
As the crowd grew increasingly aggressive and hurled insults at the four men, the officers decided to enforce the will of the mob and threaten the street preachers with arrest if they didn't leave.
Their response? To assert their rights to freedom of speech by proclaiming, "For God so loved the world, guys, that He gave His only begotten..." which saw them promptly arrested.
Up to this point, the story would not likely to draw attention because, sadly, it has become all too expected from society.
Four men preaching to a hostile crowd only to have the police side with the anti-Christian voices and arrest men whose only desire is to spread the Word of God.
No, the statements of the prosecutor in open court are what have really made Christians around the world sit up and take notice.
According to a press release by the Christian Legal Centre, Government prosecutor Ian Jackson derided the men for preaching the Bible and boldly claimed in court that "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."
Until the British blasphemy law was repealed in 2008, the prosecutor's statement itself could have been considered illegal.
According to the Daily Mail's reporting on the trial, Jackson went on to argue to the court that "some of the statements made by the preachers may have been in the King James Bible, translated in 1611, but that did not mean they were acceptable in 2016."
In an outrageous act of hostility, the government has essentially declared the Bible, God's eternal word, obsolete, while at the same time empowering mob rule against Christianity.
Andrea Williams, head of the Christian Legal Centre, commented on the court ruling by stating, "It is extraordinary that the prosecution, speaking on behalf of the state, could say that the Bible contains abusive words which, when spoken in public, constitute a criminal offense.
Today's ruling, in effect, states that Bible is offensive and contains illegal speech which should not be shared in public.
This is a very serious state of affairs and the men will be considering next steps to challenge this decision."
It is indeed a dangerous precedent to set in a country that pretends to enjoy freedom of belief and of speech.
Both Overd and Stockwell are in good company, as a similar charge was made against the Paul and Silas in Acts 17: "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also...and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. (vss 6b-8)
The men plan to appeal the verdict.