A judge in the UK has fined a street preacher for quoting a Bible verse that was offensive to homosexuals. In the process the judge seemed to be saying that some Bible verses were now illegal to quote in public. In this particular case, apparently quoting from Leviticus 18 was acceptable but Leviticus 20 was deemed to be against the law. Here’s the story from Christian Concern:
A Christian street preacher has been convicted of a Public Order offence for using the wrong Bible verse in a public conversation with a man who identifies as homosexual.
…In a highly unusual judgment, Michael Overd, who regularly preaches on the streets of Taunton, was told by the Judge that he should not have referred to Leviticus chapter 20 to make his point but clearly indicated that he could have used chapter 18 of the book.
District Judge Shamim Ahmed Qureshi found that Mr Overd could have pointed to Leviticus 18:22 which describes homosexual practice as an ‘abomination’ but that reference to Leviticus 20:13 was inappropriate because the chapter refers to the death penalty.
Mr Overd points out that in his use of Leviticus 20 he never referred to the death penalty.
"I am being punished for words that never passed my lips," he commented. …
“I am amazed that the Judge sees it as his role to dictate which parts of the Bible can and can’t be preached. I did not quote the full text of Leviticus 20 or make reference to the death penalty but the Judge is telling me that I should use other parts of the Bible. This is not free speech but censorship. The Judge is redacting the Bible.
“I have been ordered to pay compensation for causing ‘emotional pain’ to someone who approached me aggressively demanding to debate the issue. There was no harm, injury or theft, just a simple disagreement over theology which I have now been fined for.
“My motivation for preaching the gospel is my love for Jesus Christ and my deep concern for people who do not know His great love and are heading towards an eternity separated from God.”
<Read the whole article>
Response: Could this happen in America? Is this where we are headed? I can easily see this happening in Canada where any kind of so-called ‘offensive’ speech is already being censored.
Even with our strong Constitutional rights to freedom of religion we are now in a battle over whether those rights should be re-interpreted and re-defined as merely ‘freedom of worship’ within the four walls of an officially zoned and recognized place of worship out of the public square.
There have been a number of cases in the last several years where street preachers have been arrested, fined, or stopped by police from preaching or praying in public. There was even a case where Christians were blocked from giving out free bottles of water. So it is not entirely far fetched that it could happen here.
The part of this case that is really shocking is that this judge has taken it upon himself to censor part of the Bible. It would be an interesting case if this happened in America to see how it would be resolved. In so many cases recently business folks have been censored for taking Biblical stands on homosexuality and same-sex marriage in the name of ‘discrimination.’ In many places the law has been changed to include LGBT folks in civil rights provisions.
It is not really a stretch to see some of these laws used in the future to restrict free speech and religious speech in public if it is deemed to be offensive or ‘hate speech’ to those protected from ‘discrimination.’ Certain Bible verses could even be classified as ‘hate speech’ by some judge in the future if quoted in the public square.
Look for this to happen in the next ten years or less if President Obama’s push for the acceptance of ‘Freedom of Worship’ becomes the law of the land through a future more liberal Supreme Court. Hopefully enough Christians stand up for their rights in America before this becomes a reality. *Top