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LONDON, May 4, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – An elderly British pastor was arrested last week and forced to spend a night in a London jail after passers-by complained that his preaching from the Bible on marriage and the family was “insulting.”

John Sherwood, a 71-year-old pastor of the Penn Free Methodist Church, was preaching outside of Uxbridge railway station in the northwest of London on the Biblical definition of marriage when police confronted him.

The authorities had received a number of complaints about Sherwood’s preaching that day, claiming the pastor had made “homophobic” comments as he preached on Genesis 1, saying “God’s design in creating mankind was to set human beings in families, headed by a father and a mother, not by two fathers or by two mothers. The distinction within mankind of just two genders, male and female, made in the image of God, constitutes the essence of God’s created order.”

The police confronted Sherwood, accusing him of causing “alarm and distress.” The 35-year veteran preacher dialogued with the authorities before continuing to address the crowd, turning his attention to the freedom of speech, Christian Concern reported.

As he resumed speaking, two bystanders, one who identified as bisexual and the other as lesbian, reportedly heckled Sherwood, declaring his preaching to be “homophobic” and “hate speech.” This prompted the police to take statements after which they violently tore the Bible from Sherwood’s hands and dragged the septuagenarian from the stool upon which he was preaching in order to place him under arrest.

The police took Sherwood into custody under suspicion of a breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which lays out a broad description of “harassment,” including the use of “insulting words or behaviour … thereby causing … harassment, alarm or distress.”

Although Sherwood was later released without charge, an offense against the Public Order Act carries with it the possibility of a six-month prison sentence and an unlimited fine.

The Metropolitan Police later released a statement about the arrest, announcing that “The Met's Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) have since assessed the footage and found no indication of misconduct. The arrest will not be subject to a full DPS review,” closing the door to any investigative report on policing standards.

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PETITION UPDATE (2/23/21) - 

LifeSite has signed on to a Media Research Center (MRC) letter to all 50 state Attorneys General, calling for an investigation into Big Tech.

Google, Facebook, and Twitter have monopolized the industry, and are using their influence to collect user data, suppress content, and silence those who voice ideas and beliefs counter to their own.

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PETITION UPDATE (1/26/20) -

Twitter has again locked LifeSiteNews out of two of our accounts on the platform for displaying a message noting that President Joe Biden’s newly named Assistant Secretary of Health “Rachel” Levine is a man.

Both accounts displayed a simple message which read: “Biden names transgender ‘woman’ as Assistant Secretary of Health. ‘Rachel’ Levine is a father of two who divorced his wife in 2013 after 30 years of marriage.” The tweets also included a link to LifeSite’s article Biden names transgender ‘woman’ as Assistant Secretary of Health, and contained part of the opening sentence of that article, “Joe Biden has announced his intention to appoint a gender-confused man” as Assistant Secretary of Health.

For stating biological or Biblical truths, Twitter and Big Tech are trying to shut down conservative voices.

Therefore, it is now more important than ever to consider dumping Twitter, Google (who own YouTube) and Facebook. To be clear: LifeSite is still using Twitter and Big Tech to encourage others to migrate away from these illiberal platforms.

This is not the first time that LifeSiteNews has been censored by Twitter. In December 2019, Twitter indefinitely suspended our account for a tweet that linked to an article on transgender activist Jonathan “Jessica” Yaniv.

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And, while LifeSite's account was eventually restored, we must now consider what course of action we will pursue in this case, over and above appealing the ban.

Meanwhile, since taking office on Wednesday last week, Joe Biden has already signed an executive order which will force women’s athletic programs, restrooms, and locker rooms to be open to men. He has also turned back the Trump administration’s policy protecting women’s sports programs in schools.

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Twitter just deplatformed President Trump premanently! And, other conservatives, including General Flynn and Sidney Powell, were also summarily deplatformed.

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When you use Twitter or Facebook to communicate, and, or, Google and Amazon to search for something online, these companies can stifle your ability to share your thoughts and opinions and manipulate your search results, threatening your privacy, your freedom of speech, and even our democracy.

Evidence suggests that Twitter and Facebook's 'community guidelines' are selectively enforced against conservatives and Christians, while Google rigs their search algorithms to direct traffic away from conservative and Christian websites, effectively choking traffic to those sites.

Simply put, Twitter, Facebook, Google (who owns YouTube) and Amazon appear to be actively suppressing access to pro-freedom, pro-family and pro-life news and opinion.

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To repeat: a few liberal and completely unaccountable computer programmers in Silicon Valley are dictating what we do and do not see in our Twitter and Facebook feeds, and in our Google searches.

We, here, at LifeSite, also recently had our Twitter account suspended by the company over "misgendering" a man who claims to be a woman.

LifeSite has also experienced a fall-off in Google search-related traffic since the company updated its search algorithms at the beginning of May.

And, since the November election, Twitter and Big Tech appear to have dramatically INCREASED their censorship of conservatives and Christians as the President Trump disputed the results of the election and when evidence of election fraud began to mount.

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The great irony is that, while Twitter, Facebook, Google and Amazon executives talk a lot about maintaining freedom of speech and diversity, in fact, these hypocrites are ATTACKING free speech point-blank!

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Sherwood defended his actions, claiming that he was not making “homophobic” comments, rather he was simply “defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman,” according to a report in the Daily Mail

“I was only saying what the Bible says – I wasn't wanting to hurt anyone or cause offence. I was doing what my job description says, which is to preach the gospel in open air as well as in a church building.”

Sherwood explained to police that by preaching from the Bible he was exercising religious liberty as well as his conscience. Subsequently, “I was forcibly pulled down from the steps and suffered some injury to my wrist and to my elbow. I do believe I was treated shamefully. It should never have happened,” Sherwood said.

A spokesman for London’s Metropolitan Police told Premier Christian News that “At 13:35hrs on Friday, 23 April, officers on patrol were flagged down by a member of the public who made them aware of a man allegedly making homophobic comments close to Uxbridge Underground Station.”

“A number of other people also approached the officers with concerns about the man's language.”

“Officers spoke with the 71-year-old man and he was subsequently arrested on suspicion of an offence under Section 5 of the Public Order Act.”

Sherwood revealed that he was left bruised by the arrest and that, while in police custody, he was quizzed on his attitude toward gay people and how he would react to having homosexual children.

“The question was irrelevant to the allegation against me. I said I would seek to bring them to Christ, but of course I would love them no matter what, because they're my children,” Sherwood responded.

Sherwood’s colleague, Peter Simpson, who was preaching alongside Sherwood, argued that police officers should be focused on asking questions “about the specific alleged offence” in a case, “not more general questions about why someone holds a personal view on an aspect of Biblical morality” in an article published by The Conservative Woman.

Simpson wrote that the police told him that “some matters,” namely concerning sexual ethics, “simply cannot be referred to in public places, because there is no freedom to make statements which offend people.”

Highlighting the hypocrisy of the authorities regarding the application of this standard, Simpson responded that “the police would have no objection whatsoever to a Pride parade being held in Uxbridge, yet that would be highly offensive to Bible-believing Christians.” Simpson related that the officer he spoke with “did not appear to appreciate the logic behind this argument” before adding that “there is no law stating that people have a right never to be offended.”

Concluding his statement, Simpson noted that the arrest “of a faithful minister for doing nothing other than declaring what the Bible teaches about one of the important moral issues of our time reveals a dangerous assault upon freedom of speech and, not least, upon the freedom of Christian pastors to declare in public all that the Bible teaches.”

“The State has no right to designate that some parts of God’s word are no-go areas,” he declared.

Andrea Williams, the Christian Legal Centre’s chief executive, weighed in on Sherwood’s arrest: “Street preaching has a long and honoured history in the UK. In many ways it is symbolic of the kind of freedoms we have treasured in this nation. So to see a 75-year-old (sic) pastor arrested in such a manner for preaching the Gospel (sic) in London is deeply concerning.”

“The laws to protect the freedom to preach in public are very strong. Sadly, what we are seeing all too often is police officers who are quick to arrest at the first suggestion that a member of the public is offended because of the prevailing cancel culture.”

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