Charges Dropped against UK Preacher who Called Homosexual Acts a Sin
By Hilary White
WORKINGTON, UK, May 17, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Charges have been dropped against Dale Mcalpine, an evangelical street preacher from Workington in Cumbria, who was arrested April 20 after he was denounced to police by a homosexualist police community support officer (PCSO). Mcalpine had, in a private conversation with a passer-by during his day of preaching, said that homosexual activity is a sin, in accordance with Biblical teaching.
The Christian Institute reports that after reviewing the evidence, crown prosecutors decided to drop charges of “hooliganism.”
“It was a ridiculous charge, I should never have been arrested. I’m relieved that they have seen sense,” said Mcalpine.
Mcalpine, 42, says he is ready to go back to his street preaching, a tradition that dates back to the 1700s in Britain. “This is a victory for freedom of speech,” he said. “I hope we are not going down the road towards a police state and the thought police. I can’t wait to get out on to the streets again and preach the word of God.”
Mcalpine said he is considering possible action against the police, with legal assistance from the Christian Institute. “I’m a Christian man. I forgive the police. But it is important this doesn’t happen to someone else.”
A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said, “We keep cases under constant review and following a further review of all the evidence in this case we were no longer satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction and we have therefore discontinued the proceedings against Mr. Mcalpine.”
In statements after his arrest, Mcalpine said, “I’m not homophobic. I don’t hate gays. Then they said it is against the law to say homosexuality is a sin. I was arrested. It’s crazy isn’t it?”
A Christian Institute spokesman Mike Judge said, “Cumbria police can’t just walk away from this. They have arrested and charged an innocent man for no other reason than he peacefully expressed his religious beliefs.”
“And it has happened in other parts of the country too. So there is clearly a problem with the system and it has to be put right,” he continued.
Chief Superintendent Steve Johnson, police commander for West Cumbria, defended police actions, saying, “Our officers and staff often have to make difficult decisions while balancing the law and people’s rights.”
Johnson continued, saying that while “opinions and interpretations differ” he wanted to assure the public “that we respect, and are committed to upholding, the fundamental right to freedom of expression.”
“We are just as committed to maintaining the peace and preventing people feeling alarmed or distressed by the actions of others in public places.”
When he was arrested, Mcalpine said that the police noted that part of the offense for which hew as being arrested was having said that homosexuality is a sin in a voice “loud enough to be overheard” by others. After his arrest, Mcalpine was confined in a cell for seven hours, during which time he asked for his Bible. “I read it and sang hymns like Amazing Grace as loudly as I could,” he said.
Sam Adams, the PCSO who called police for his arrest, is a homosexualist activist who identified himself to Mcalpine as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender liaison officer for the police.
The Public Order Act 1986, under which Mcalpine was arrested, was intended to deal with the problem of football hooligans, but has recently been used to control speech. In April of last the police charged Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang, Christian hoteliers, under the Act, allegedly for “insulting” a Muslim guest at their Liverpool hotel. Although they were cleared of the charges, the couple said that the incident has caused a great deal of negative publicity, and has caused their business to fail.
The Act was also used in 2002 against pensioner Harry Hammond, who was convicted under Section 5 after preaching in Bournemouth. Hammond had held up a sign saying, “Stop Immorality. Stop Homosexuality. Stop Lesbianism. Jesus is Lord.”
In 2006, police arrested and charged Christian campaigner Stephen Green for handing out leaflets at a Gay Pride festival in Cardiff.
The Mcalpine arrest occurred only a few a weeks after a visiting American preacher, Shawn Holes, was arrested and fined Â£1000 in Glasgow for saying, in answer to a direct question, that homosexual activity is a sin. Holes, who did not contest the charge, paid the fine and returned to the U.S.
A solicitor for the Christian Institute, Sam Webster, said that it is not a crime to express the belief that homosexual conduct is a sin. “A Christian who stands in a public place and expresses his religious beliefs in the hope of persuading passers-by of his views – that is freedom of speech.
“Yes, the police have a duty to maintain public order but they also have a duty to defend the lawful free speech of citizens. It’s not for police to decide whether Mr. Mcalpine’s views are right or wrong.
“Case law has ruled that the orthodox Christian belief that homosexual conduct is sinful is a belief worthy of respect in a democratic society.”