PERTH — Police in Scotland have again arrested and jailed an open-air preacher for proclaiming the Gospel in the street.
As previously reported, Josh Williamson of Perth states that he was preaching from Scripture about man’s enslavement to sin last Wednesday when he was taken into custody, interrogated and later released with the warning to stop open-air preaching.
“I asked [the officer] what law I was breaking, and he replied that I was in breach of the peace,” he wrote on a blog post outlining the incident. “When I asked him to explain, he pointed to my mp3 recorder and said I was too loud. … I then asked him what a reasonable sound level would be. The police officer replied that the noise level isn’t the issue, but rather that a complaint had been made.”
The police contended that Williamson must discontinue preaching. He replied that he was not in violation of the law.
“At this the officer said, ‘If you do that I’ll arrest you,’” Williamson recalled. “My answer was, ‘I guess you had better arrest me then, as I’m not breaking the law.’ With this the police officer placed me under arrest for breach of the peace.”
Moments later, Williamson asked a female officer what law he had violated.
“It was at this point she told me that the content of my message was illegal. I found this amazing, since I was only preaching the Gospel,” he stated. “She also said people had accused me of swearing at those in the crowd. I pointed out that was a lie, and that I have an mp3 recording of the whole open-air.”
Williamson was later released with the warning not to open-air preach again or he would continue to find himself behind bars.
On Saturday, as Williamson was preaching from the Bible in a commercial district of Perth, he was again approached by police, who claimed that they had received complaints because he was elevating his voice to address the people.
According to video footage of the incident, as Williamson was speaking, a female bystander began to call out, “What does the Bible say about standing in the street shouting?” He then cited the command from Christ to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature.”
“Yes, you’re correct to say that, but does it actually say in the Bible that you can shout in the street?” she contended.
Moments later, a female officer accompanied by a male constable approached Williamson and announced, “[Y]our shouting has been upsetting members of the public.”
She then detained Willamson and escorted him to the police vehicle, where the two engaged in further discussion about the matter. Bystanders began laughing as Williamson was led away.
“This is what happens when you preach the Gospel of Christ!” he declared. “Men love the darkness and hate the light. They won’t come to the light lest their deeds be exposed as evil. Christ has come into the world to save sinners and I get detained for it. May Christ be glorified!”
As the officer proceeded to tell Williamson that she had received “numerous complaints” about his activities, he asked why she did nothing to interfere with a busker down the street who was much louder than Williamson’s preaching.
“I’ve not had a complaint about anyone else,” she replied. “The complaint is about yourself.”
When Williamson asked what volume level would be acceptable, she replied, “Talking.”
“But that’s not preaching,” he explained. “See, preaching by nature is projecting.”
However, the officer asserted that complainants bemoaned that Williamson had been shouting in the streets, and threatened him with arrest.
“If you fail to desist, then you will be arrested for breach of the peace,” she warned.
“Well, I’m going to continue preaching because I’m not breaking the law,” Williamson replied.
The evangelist was then informed that he was under arrest and was transported to the local jail, where he spent the next five hours after refusing the conditions offered to him.
“[The desk sergeant] said I was going to be charged, but there were two ways in which this could be done,” Williamson explained in a blog post on his website. “I [could] sign bail and be released, but that meant I wouldn’t be allowed in the city centre of Perth. This was unacceptable, as that would mean I couldn’t perform my pastoral duties or preach.”
“The other option was to not sign bail, and be kept in custody until I could see a magistrate on Monday, and then a decision would be made as to my future,” he continued. “I refused to sign bail, and as a result I was left in my cell.”
Although he was to have spent the next two days in jail, Williamson was released hours later after being permitted to speak with an attorney.
He does not know at this point whether he will face charges for his preaching.
“Please pray for us as we continue to preach Christ in Perth and throughout Scotland,” Williamson stated. “Soli Deo Gloria!”