DUNDEE, Scotland — An American evangelist was arrested for the second time in the UK while open air preaching this week.
Evangelist Tony Miano, a retired police officer from California, was arrested for breach of peace in Dundee, Scotland this Wednesday following a complaint that he had preached against homosexuality.
Miano had been preaching about the salvation that comes through Jesus Christ and about the nature of sin, including sexual sin, when a woman began to shout at him. The woman blurted out that her son was a homosexual before calling the police.
Pastor Josh Williamson of the Craigie Reformed Baptist Church in Perth, who was present during the incident, said that Miano’s message did not center on homosexuality.
“Tony wasn’t focusing on homosexual practice; it was about all sin,” he explained. “A woman was yelling at him, and her friend noticed we were filming the preaching, so she ran up to me and tried to smash my camera.”
Williamson said that a council warden soon approached him and Miano and told them to move on, but also advised that what they were doing was not illegal.
Two police officers then arrived at the scene as Williamson and Miano were packing up. According to Williamson, the woman began shouting again so that the preachers would be arrested.
“The female officer saw that we had a camera and lunged for it and then the male policeman grabbed it and threw it in the police van,” Williamson said. “After Tony was put in the police van, I asked why he was being arrested and was told it was for breach of peace and for using homophobic language.”
Andrea Minichiello Williams, Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, says that the incident raises serious questions about police procedure and understanding of the law in dealing with such incidents.
“This appears to be an overzealous reaction by the police,” she said. “The incident adds to the number of arrests of Christian street evangelists for preaching from the Bible. It is indicative of the suppression of the freedom to speak and to live out the words of Jesus Christ in public and present the teachings of the Bible.”
Miano was released the next day after being held in police custody overnight–28 hours after the arrest. He said that he was grateful for all the support he received, but was saddened by what had happened.
“It’s alarming that in a country such as the UK, which helped spread Christianity to the world, [that] we’re seeing police oppression of God’s word being preached in the streets of our towns and cities,” Miano stated.
Miano appeared in court the following day, where he pleaded not guilty to a charge of breach of peace with “homophobic” aggravation. He is now free on bail and may return to America, but is required to appear in Scottish court on April 22.
As previously reported, Miano was also arrested last July in London for alleged “homophobic” comments, but no charges were formally filed.