Street preacher faces arrest after reading Bible in public, screams a headline in Christian Today.
No, no, no. He’s facing arrest for reading stuff out that could offend because it was deemed homophobic. It doesn’t matter that it’s the bloody Bible, you blithering, oversensitive idiots. It could have been anything.
I’m not entirely sure that people shouldn’t be allowed to read any passage they wish, assuming they’re allowed to read stuff in public anyway (and that’s another argument), because we can expect our own freedom of speech to be stamped on once we start going down that road.
If he wasn’t actually inciting people to go out and kill a gay, it should be OK – as long as he’s prepared for people to heckle and put their points. (Not that he would have a decent argument if he’s relying on prepackaged answers instead of thinking for himself.)
But the law is as it is, and it was the homophobia of the piece – by my reading of this tale, anyhow – that was likely to cause offence. Perhaps the police interpreted it as likely to cause a breach of the peace, who knows? And what had he said before reading the passage? He’s called a preacher, not a reader, so had he been spouting inflammatory stuff before that?
Whatever, it seems he wasn’t facing arrest for reading from the Bible, but for reading offensive material in a public place that just happened to be from the Bible.
One of the passages he was reading out – presumably the one that got the cops twitching – was from Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, in which he speaks of men who, “leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly”. Vile affections and all that.
Mind you, had be been reading the stuff from Leviticus, he’d have had to add that the culprits in this most heinous act of filth must be put to death. That might be considered a bit inciteful!
The story tells us that Miguel Hayworth, 29, who’s been a street preacher in Manchester, UK, for the last five years, has sought help from the Christian Legal Centre, and a human-rights barrister is to represent him.
Chances are that nothing will come of it. But he’s had his collar felt. If gay people went into the streets and slagged off Christians and Muslims by reading loudly from texts, there’d be hell to pay.