Hilary White

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Stop arresting street preachers, says Christian rights group to head of London police

Hilary White
Hilary White

LONDON, July 28, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Exasperated with the numerous arrests of Christian street preachers for speaking against homosexuality, a UK advocacy group has written to the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (of London) demanding that guidance be issued to beat officers to put a stop to the problem. 

The last straw was the arrest earlier this month of visiting US street preacher Tony Miano for preaching that homosexual conduct is a sin. 

“As you might be aware, this is the position adopted by all the major churches in the United Kingdom,” said Andrea Minichiello Williams, the head of the Christian Legal Centre (CLC), in the letter to Sir Bernard Hogan Howe of New Scotland Yard. "I hope we can agree that preaching the Gospel on sexual ethics (absent extenuating circumstances) is a lawful activity."

Williams said that not only was the arrest unlawful, so was officers’ questioning on the content of Miano’s preaching. 

CLC is asking for the dismissal of the officers involved - PC Green, PC Bailey and PC Rutland - and referral of the incident to Independent Police Complaints Commission. “We assert that such officers are unfit to remain within the Police Force,” said the group. 

Miano was arrested and detained for several hours after police received a complaint by phone from one woman with whom he said he had tried to engage in dialogue. Miano said that while preaching on “both heterosexual immorality and homosexual immorality,” he  was approached by the woman who, he said, “turned, glared at me and told me to ‘f-off’.” Police subsequently arrived and told him he was “guilty of using homophobic speech that could cause people anxiety, distress, alarm or insult.” 

At the police station he was fingerprinted, had a DNA sample taken and was interviewed “under caution.” At first he was told that he would be charged with an offence under the now-notorious Section 5 Public Order Act.

However, the section under which Miano was arrested,\ has been overturned by an act of Parliament after several similar incidents came to wide public attention. A campaign group on freedom of speech, spearheaded by actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson, argued successfully that the word “insult” needed to be removed from the act. The change in the law, however, has yet to come into effect. 

Later that night Miano was abruptly released without charge. 

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While he was detained, officers not only questioned Miano about the incident but also about his personal beliefs. “The questioning is unlawful as intrusive to ‘private life’ within Article 8 of the European Convention [on Human Rights],” CLC said in the letter.

“From the transcript it appears as though the officers are convinced that if someone perceives there to have been a ‘homophobic incident’ then they believe an offence has occurred and therefore the speaker can be arrested.

“We remain of the view that no reasonable police officer would arrest a Christian for preaching a Bible message in the circumstances of this case, nor pursue such an offensive line of questioning.”

Street preaching, popular among Evangelicals, has a venerable history in Britain, starting in the 18th century with the Methodist movement when preachers John Wesley and George Whitefield would preach outdoors to crowds that had grown too large to be accommodated in church buildings. But with the sudden growth in political power of secularist ideologies, street preachers are increasingly becoming the most public targets of anti-Christian complaints, with the full cooperation of police. In some recent cases, this aggression against public displays of Christianity has escalated into outright violence. 

In an interview with LSN on the incident, James Bogle, British barrister and head of the Catholic Union of Great Britain, said that the removal of the term “insult” from the law was a step in the right direction, but far from an adequate response to the problems created by this law. In the current political climate, Bogle said, “at all levels of government,” homosexuality is considered “a special area” deserving of special protections and treatment.  

“Instead of groups or individuals getting the benefit of the law evenly and being equal before the law there is now inequality in the application of human rights law in the United Kingdom, in statutes like the Public Order Act or the discrimination [Equality] acts, as a matter of public policy. So the law is in effect being biased,” Bogle said. 

“The reason for this is that in the nature of human rights law, if you’re not careful, it becomes the opinion of a particular judge, or indeed a police inspector.” In most cases, those arrested have not faced charges, or have had the charges overturned by the courts. 

“Frankly, it’s a disgrace,” Bogle added, “that the higher echelons of the police force have allowed this situation to arise. Because what happens in all these cases is, no sooner do they hit the desk of the public prosecutor, or even of the local police inspector, they are immediately rejected, and the person freed. It doesn’t get to a court because the prosecutor knows it hasn’t got a chance because it is contrary to the law.”  

The Christian Legal Centre cited several similar cases of arrests for preaching against sexual impurity, and said that the European Court of Human Rights had upheld the principle that “the duty of the Police is to facilitate free speech on controversial speech and not permit a silencing of viewpoints disagreed with.” 

“Free speech requires a level playing field,” they added.

 

Read related LSN coverage: 

American Street Preacher Arrested in Britain for Declaring Homosexual Behavior a Sin

Street preacher awarded £4000 for wrongful arrest over gay remarks

It’s Getting Dangerous Out There — A Preacher Is Arrested in Britain

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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