Preachers Found Guilty of Violating UK ‘Crime & Disorder Act’ After Arrests for ‘Anti-Social’ Opposition to Islam, Homosexuality

BRISTOL, UK — Two street preachers who were arrested last July on accusations of “causing a disturbance” and engaging in “anti-social behavior” after some listeners became offended by their speech about issues such as Islam, Buddhism, homosexuality and divorce have been found guilty of “intentionally alarming” the public with open-air preaching.

The verdict against Michael Overd of the U.K. and Michael Stockwell of the U.S. was handed down Tuesday in Bristol Magistrates’ Court. They were fined nearly $2,500 each.

The men had been on trial over accusations that they violated a section of the Crime and Disorder Act, which prohibits speech or behavior causing “intentional harassment, alarm or distress” that is “racially or religiously aggravated.”

During their trial, prosecutor Ian Jackson “told the court some of the statements made by the preachers may have been in the King James Bible, translated in 1611, but that did not mean they were acceptable in 2016,” according to the Daily Mail.

As previously reported, Overd and Stockwell, along with Adrian Clark and Don Karns, had been taking turns open air preaching outside of the Bristol shopping center on July 6, as well as engaging passersby in conversation and/or holding gospel signs.

Two of those involved in the evangelism effort, Stockwell and Karns, were American citizens visiting the country to share the gospel. The men allegedly preached on a variety of issues, and took questions from those who stopped to listen—questions that ranged from Islam, Buddhism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuality and other moral and religious issues.

Police state that some became offended by the men’s preaching and/or responses to the questions, as statements reportedly included remarks such as “Allah is the greatest deceiver—that’s in the Koran,” “David Cameron is no more a Christian than my dogs” and that false religion leads men to “the gates and the very depth of Hell.”

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An online video shows the moment the men were arrested.

“The purpose of mankind is to worship God and enjoy Him,” declared Overd, who was preaching at the time. “You need to obey God and obey His commands. I hated His commands once and I remember what that mind frame is—it is like banging your head against a brick wall.”

Seconds later, Overd was approached by a police officer, who ordered him to leave the area.

“Look, you are causing a disturbance now,” the officer stated. “You are not welcome.”

“Go home! Go home!” a few men nearby chanted.

The officer warned that if Overd did not stop preaching, he would be arrested.

“For God so loved the world, guys, that He gave His only begotten…” Overd declared, advising that he was not going to leave.

The officer consequently grabbed Overd by the arm while he was speaking and pulled him away. The crowd clapped and cheered enthusiastically.

“There’s a line of freedom of speech,” the officer told Overd. “[I]t’s when you’re causing a disturbance, that is, aggravating people, anti-social behavior, which you were causing.”

“How were we causing it?” Overd asked. “What did we say?”

“People were getting angry. You were challenging [homosexuality]. You were challenging Muslims,” the officer replied.

“But just saying what the Bible says,” Overd noted.

“That’s fine,” the officer said.

“Well, if it’s fine, why are you arresting me?” Overd asked.

Stockwell, Karns and Clark were also arrested, but the charge against Karns was later dropped and the charge against Clark was dismissed last week at trial.

U.K. blogger Richard Carvath decried the guilty verdict handed down against Stockwell and Overd on Tuesday.

“[T]he four Christian men were preaching—quite lawfully—about their Christian beliefs in a public place in Bristol; they were certainly not bent on causing any trouble. They were not violent and did not incite violence. They spoke no profane words,” he said.

“In Britain we cherish liberty and the rule of law. We do not live according to yobs’ mob rule. Police officers are supposed to uphold the law and protect the right of law-abiding people to speak in public—not side with the mob against public speakers whom the yobs want to silence,” Carvath continued. “It’s yobs and mobs that engage in public disorder—not peaceful Christian evangelists.”

The men plan to appeal the verdict.

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  • Bob Hutton

    We are in an Acts of the Apostles situation. Are we going to stand firm as soldiers of the cross or are we going to be chocolate soldiers?

  • Amos Moses

    the “free world” …… aint …

  • Michael C

    “Hey, look at that guy over there video taping himself berating passersby with a bull horn. Let’s join his religion!”

    That being said, I much prefer how we approach the freedom of speech here in the U.S.

  • William of Glynn

    We all know their ultimate goal was to get arrested.

    • Charles

      I’m pretty sure there goal was to witness to the lost sheep. Apparently, there wasn’t any sheep left there.

  • NCOriolesFan

    Be very afraid Britain, ISIS can only kill the body but God can kill the soul, if the country has one.

  • So, you’re not allowed a dissenting view? wow…

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    UK is arresting truth-speaking Christian preachers. So sad. It’s true that Islam’s doctrines pose danger to all infidels and the homosexuality practice hurts all children. Peaceful and fair co-existence of everyone is impossible where Judeo-Christian doctrines are not dominant, because people are all sinners. Everyone needs Christian teaching to get saved and be moral and civilized.

    • johndoe

      Homosexuality hurts no one. No one needs christianity to be moral or civilized

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        Westerners enslave mankind by upholding their homosexuality. Today’s West is the grand proof that homosexuality is harmful to everyone.

      • ki-lee

        self inflicted

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Today’s UK and USA are sad to see. All the English people losing their wits by having lost Christianity. The English people need Christianity to be good and do what is right and keep fairness and freedom. The rule of the law is just another toxic trash if the laws are evil. Magna Carta was only possible in the Christendom. Secularism only corrupts everyone. People need sane morality, not just freedom. Where there is no Christianity, there is no freedom anyway but only slavery by evil because sin is slavery.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Western Europe must realize that there is no cozy happy life on earth while rebelling against the Creator God. The Western Civilization was superior only because it sought after God’s objective truth and not one’s own cozy life. Yesteryears’ Westerners were not that way. God will never give the skies to the Western Sodomites. Sodom inherits nothing but just gets destroyed. Read Genesis and Revelation. Western Europe needs repentance by being humble before God and forsaking infanticide and the depraved immorality and returning to Saviour Jesus. It’s time to be realistic like today’s Eastern European Christendom. People need each other to remind the life-saving God’s truth in the Holy Bible.

  • When did the Authorised Version lose its authorisation? Did I miss the announcement?

    • In America those that advocate crying, lifting up and causing their voice to be heard in the street with bullhorns seem to be predominantly from the “repent of your sins” school (not the “whosoever believeth in him” school). None of these articles have clearly set out the form of the gospel being preached. Possibly it was the “all that believe are justified from all things” school, since the prosecutor seems to imply that they are using the once-authorised version. I’d like to think that they are preaching justification by faith – but the testimony in the video about nobody actually being saved suggests that they are not.

  • mollysdad

    “Intentionally alarming” is nonsense. Alarm can be caused only by threatening words. These men were convicted of abusive language.

    That determination was wrong save for the following of Mr Stockwell’s words: “If you are trying to come through Catholicism, the Bible says you’re a thief and a liar and a thief comes to steal and destroy.”

    These words are abusive because he took God as a witness that Roman Catholics are liars. I am fullly certain of my good faith in believing that the beliefs and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church are true, and thus equally certain that Mr Stockwell cursed the Name by the Name.

    Although this is a capital crime in Scripture (Leviticus 24), Mr Stockwell is entitled to an acquittal, because there was no evidence that his blasphemous words were spoken within the hearing of a Catholic.

  • david

    in the 1800’s the UK sent many missionaries around the world and the British empire was wealthy and the royalty was honored. the KJV Bible was first printed in 1611 and widely available in the UK. now some 400 years later the UK is a shell of a empire and the people have became sullen and apathetic .

    the words of the Bible in past days where a comfort to those who read when society was not so insane . now when insanity is on the rise and evil accepted we see the intolerance towards the same words of the Bible that have been around the UK for over 400 years.

    the truth did not change. the people did. and the change is toward evil not toward good.