A 71-year-old preacher in London, England, was arrested April 23rd for preaching out of a passage of Genesis which states, “God created mankind…male and female.” The pastor, John Sherwood, was reported to the police and accused of preaching a “homophobic” message and spreading hate speech against homosexuals. He stated that he did not mention homosexuality and was simply “preaching about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman” when he was arrested on the street. A onlooker videoed the event in a since-gone-viral video. Sherwood stated that an officer told him that there is “no freedom to make statements which offend people”. The pastor was handcuffed, arrested, and detained overnight.
Many on both the Right and the Left have been outspoken about the arrest. Pastor Peter Simpson, Sherwood’s friend who had been preaching with him at the time, stated, “You don’t have to be an evangelical Christian to be shocked by this. Anyone who cares about liberty should be concerned about what happened in Uxbridge.”
“This is the consequence-free policing of our speech. Draconian police conduct with the added benefit of scaring others into silence…why bother with legislation when the police can drag people off the streets, or record hate incidents against them, or arrest someone for otherwise lawful activity because someone says it is having a ‘detrimental effect’?”Paul Coleman, Executive Director for Alliance Defending Freedom International
The official Twitter page for the Leave.EU political campaign asked, “Would this have happened with any other religion?” LGBTQ and human rights activist Peter Tatchell tweeted, “Christian preacher arrested in London for criticizing homosexuality. An abuse of police power. He was not threatening or harassing. I’ve offered to testify in his defense, even though I disagree with him. Defend free speech!”