Monday, May 3, 2010

Meanwhile, in England, They are Throwing Baptists in Prison Again

And the charge is the same old one: preaching the Bible in public.

In the 17th century it was a common occurrence, of course, for Puritans to be imprisoned for preaching the Bible in the open air. John Bunyan, for example, was imprisoned on November 12, 1660 and spent most of the next 12 years in prison for preaching the Bible. He was eventually released and became a famous and popular preacher and pastor - and author of Pilgrim's Progress, which he first conceived while in prison. So throwing Baptists in prison for preaching the Gospel didn't work out so well for the legions of Hell and newer, more modern, infernal strategies were developed. But old habits die hard.

In the Daily Telegraph of May 2, 2010 we read:

Dale McAlpine was charged with causing “harassment, alarm or distress” after a homosexual police community support officer (PCSO) overheard him reciting a number of “sins” referred to in the Bible, including blasphemy, drunkenness and same sex relationships.

The 42-year-old Baptist, who has preached Christianity in Wokington, Cumbria for years, said he did not mention homosexuality while delivering a sermon from the top of a stepladder, but admitted telling a passing shopper that he believed it went against the word of God.

Police officers are alleging that he made the remark in a voice loud enough to be overheard by others and have charged him with using abusive or insulting language, contrary to the Public Order Act.

Mr McAlpine, who was taken to the police station in the back of a marked van and locked in a cell for seven hours on April 20, said the incident was among the worst experiences of his life.

“I felt deeply shocked and humiliated that I had been arrested in my own town and treated like a common criminal in front of people I know," he said.

“My freedom was taken away on the hearsay of someone who disliked what I said, and I was charged under a law that doesn't apply.”

Christian campaigners have expressed alarm that the Public Order Act, introduced in 1986 to tackle violent rioters and football hooligans, is being used to curb religious free speech.

Sam Webster, a solicitor-advocate for the Christian Institute, which is supporting Mr McAlpine, said it is not a crime to express the belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.

“The police have a duty to maintain public order but they also have a duty to defend the lawful free speech of citizens,” he said.

“Case law has ruled that the orthodox Christian belief that homosexual conduct is sinful is a belief worthy of respect in a democratic society."

Mr McAlpine was handing out leaflets explaining the Ten Commandments or offering a “ticket to heaven” with a church colleague on April 20, when a woman came up and engaged him in a debate about his faith.

During the exchange, he says he quietly listed homosexuality among a number of sins referred to in 1 Corinthians, including blasphemy, fornication, adultery and drunkenness.

After the woman walked away, she was approached by a PCSO who spoke with her briefly and then walked over to Mr McAlpine and told him a complaint had been made, and that he could be arrested for using racist or homophobic language.

The street preacher said he told the PCSO: “I am not homophobic but sometimes I do say that the Bible says homosexuality is a crime against the Creator”.

He claims that the PCSO then said he was homosexual and identified himself as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender liaison officer for Cumbria police. Mr McAlpine replied: “It’s still a sin.”

The preacher then began a 20 minute sermon, in which he says he mentioned drunkenness and adultery, but not homosexuality. Three regular uniformed police officers arrived during the address, arrested Mr McAlpine and put him in the back of a police van.

At the station, he was told to empty his pockets and his mobile telephone, belt and shoes were confiscated. Police took fingerprints, a palm print, a retina scan and a DNA swab.

He was later interviewed, charged under Sections 5 (1) and (6) of the Public Order Act and released on bail on the condition that he did not preach in public.

Isn't it great to know that the police are making the street safe for little secularists in Britain and not getting distracted by right-wing calls to focus on Muslim terrorists, street gangs or other innocuous little over-hyped so-called "dangers to society?"

I wonder if we might have a mild word of concern from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who was heard preaching at Easter that Christians are not really being persecuted in Britain like in some parts of the world where they are actually thrown in prison:

The Archbishop of Canterbury today condemned the "overheated language" used to describe Christian suffering in Britain as a coalition of religious groups launched a campaign to protect what they see as the country's religious heritage.

Rowan Williams told a congregation at Canterbury Cathedral that "wooden-headed bureaucratic silliness" combined with a "well-meaning and completely misplaced anxiety about giving offence to non-Christians" should not be mistaken for persecution. - - snip - -

t was not the case that Christians were "at risk of their lives or liberties in this country simply for being Christians", Williams noted. "Whenever you hear overheated language about this, remember those many, many places where persecution is real and Christians are being killed regularly and mercilessly or imprisoned and harassed for their resistance to injustice."
Dr. Williams' legendary patience apparently prevents him from getting all excited about a little thing like a man getting thrown into jail for preaching the Gospel. He was, after all I suppose, just a Baptist.

A nice blog post title from Christine Odone at her Daily Telegraph blog: "Homosexuality is legal. Christianity should be too." But it does raise the question no one wants to discuss: "Is it possible for both to be legal? Maybe they are mutually exclusive and one must win and the other must lose." An ominous thought. (I'm not saying I think this is true; but I think a certain version of it might be. It is possible that the ideology that wants to defend, advance and impose pro-homosexual thinking is inherently and completely of the anti-Christ. In that case, read the Book of Revelation to see how things turn out.)

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