Monday, July 15, 2024
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Trying times for the Christian street preacher


POLITICALLY incorrect street preachers like John Sherwood are surely going to continue being arrested unless Britain becomes a Christian country again.

TCW has well reported on the brutal arrest of Mr Sherwood by Metropolitan police officers in Uxbridge last year and his court victory last month.

The district judge at Uxbridge magistrates’ court upheld his freedom of expression as set out in Article 10 of the 1998 Human Rights Act. His preaching partner, Peter Simpson, wrote on this site: ‘After the trial the preacher and his supporters offered prayers of thanksgiving to God for the acquittal, and there sounded forth the words of the hymn “To God be the glory, Great things he hath done”.’ Indeed He did for His servant in this case.

But unfortunately it would seem that the grounds on which Mr Sherwood was acquitted, namely his ‘human rights’, are a flimsy basis for the safeguarding of orthodox Christian freedoms.

If political parties aiming to enshrine neo-Marxist morality in law go on winning parliamentary majorities then, as this country has increasingly experienced since New Labour won power in 1997 and the heir-to-Blair ‘Conservatives’ followed their master, LGBT ‘rights’ can all too easily triumph over the ‘rights’ of traditional Christians. An elected ‘Conservative’ government is about to pass a law to ban adult individuals experiencing unwanted same-sex attraction from seeking professional therapy.

Ironically, Section 5 of the Public Order Act under which Mr Sherwood was charged, outlawing causing a person ‘alarm or distress’ by ‘threatening or abusive words or behaviours’, was originally introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s government in 1986 to tackle football hooliganism. But in the past 25 years that law has been increasingly used against Christian street preachers who speak up for heteronormality. This is despite the fact that the late David Waddington, who served as Home Secretary during Mrs Thatcher’s premiership, successfully introduced an amendment to the Act in the House of Lords in 2008 allowing criticism of homosexual practice.

The Waddington amendment states: ‘For the avoidance of doubt, the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.’

But how is it surprising in the present moral climate that police officers are ignorant of the Waddington amendment? The police who arrested Pastor Sherwood were unaware of it. So, this is surely how the conversation is likely to go between a typical British police officer and the Rev Abraham Faithful, who has been preaching in a town centre that marriage as ordained by God is between a man and a woman, not between two men or two women: –

Officer: ‘You’ve caused alarm and distress to members of the public by your homophobic comments.’

Faithful: ‘But the law allows people to criticise sexual conduct.’

Officer: ‘It may do in some cases but gay sex is a protected characteristic under the law, so I am arresting you.’

How could the conversation go otherwise with the police officer’s head so full of the neo-Marxist diversity training he has been subjected to?

In his profoundly prophetic Reflections on the Revolution in France, published in 1790, Edmund Burke wrote this about those he termed ‘the people of England’:

‘We know, and it is our pride to know, that man is by nature a religious animal; that atheism is against not only our reason but our instincts; and that it cannot prevail. But if, in the moment of riot, and in a drunken delirium from the hot spirit drawn out of the alembick of hell, which in France is now so furiously boiling, we should uncover our nakedness by throwing off that Christian religion which has hitherto been our boast and comfort, and one great source of civilisation among us, and among many other nations, we are apprehensive (being well aware that the mind will not endure a void) that some uncouth, pernicious and degrading superstition, might take place of it.’

What has filled the void left by the retreating sea of Christian faith in Britain? Is it not the ‘uncouth, pernicious and degrading superstition’ of wokery that has taken over the minds of the police officers who arrested John Sherwood and of their colleagues all over the country who are likely to go on arresting open-air Christian preachers?

Secular ‘human rights’ or, to use 18th century terminology, ‘the Rights of Man’, would appear to be no protection against the new religion, which cannot be neutralised by pro-free speech campaigners, journalists and politicians.

‘We’ are different now and no ‘here-today-gone-tomorrow’ politician can possibly save us.

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Julian Mann
Julian Mann
Julian Mann is a former Church of England vicar, now an evangelical journalist based in Heysham, Lancashire.

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