Britain continues its crushing campaign against the free speech of Christians. Just a couple of months ago we documented the arrest and incarceration of a Christian street preacher for nothing more than speaking out about sin. Well, this time the preachers didn’t even need to do that much to get themselves tossed into a British jail. In fact, now you can be arrested and detained in jail in Britain simply for being falsely accused of speaking against homosexual behavior.
Evangelist Rob Hughes was speaking on the streets of Basildon, Essex when he was approached by police officers who began to question him about what he had been saying that day. The police officers told him that they’d received a complaint that he had been speaking out about homosexuality and referring to it as “sinful” behavior. They also let him know that that kind of speech violated British law, which does not allow “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior, or disorderly behavior” or the display of “any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting” within earshot or sight of a someone who is “likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.” The street preacher was then arrested and jailed for suspicion of violating hate speech laws.
The Christian legal organization Christian Concern is handling the legal issue for Mr. Hughes. Their President, Andrea Williams, says that there is much cause for concern in Britain’s Christian community. “This is happening alarmingly often now, Rob’s experience shows why it’s so important that we at the Christian Legal Center keep giving legal support to Christians like him who simply want to share the good news of Jesus,” Williams said.
While Hughes was arrested for something he did not do, namely calling homosexuality sin, that is not the heart of the problem. On another day words to that effect may indeed come out of his mouth; the problem is the attack on freedom of speech in Britain. We can draw a direct line from our British heritage to the liberties we enjoy here in the United States today. If it can happen in Britain, make no mistake, it can happen here. When we are no longer free to speak as we choose, simply because we cause offense… we are no longer truly free, but slave to whomever can claim to be offended.
Preaching against homosexuality on a street corner may not be the way I would try to spread the Christian message, but it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be allowed to do it. If we aren’t vigilant, we will lose all of our liberty – death by a thousand cuts.
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