Losing Religious Freedom in England
Speaking about one’s religion is both a free speech and religious freedom issue. Both are being chipped away at in England.
A police community support officer ordered two Christian preachers to stop handing out gospel leaflets in a predominantly Muslim area of Birmingham.
The evangelists say they were threatened with arrest for committing a "hate crime" and were told they risked being beaten up if they returned. The incident will fuel fears that "no-go areas" for Christians are emerging in British towns and cities, as the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, claimed in The Sunday Telegraph this year.
The Bishop’s charges were denied vehemently, but it turns out he was right.
The "police community support officer" who accused them of the crime threatened to arrest them.
A police community support officer (PCSO) interrupted the conversation and began questioning the ministers about their beliefs.
They said when the officer realised they were American, although both have lived in Britain for many years, he launched a tirade against President Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr Cunningham said: "I told him that this had nothing to do with the gospel we were preaching but he became very aggressive.
"He said we were in a Muslim area and were not allowed to spread our Christian message. He said we were committing a hate crime by telling the youths to leave Islam and said that he was going to take us to the police station."
The police department wouldn’t apologize, and just gave the PCSO training in hate crime and communication. One would have hoped this training would have come before putting hit out on the street.
Unmentioned in the Telegraph article but picked up by the Daily Mail; the PCSO himself was Muslim. In addition, there was a threat of violence, and the actual constable on site backed up the PCSO
The community officer is also said to have told the two men: ‘You have been warned. If you come back here and get beat up, well, you have been warned.’
A police constable who was present during the incident in the Alum Rock area of Birmingham is also alleged to have told the preachers not to return to the district.
Presumably, this is not a Jihadi, just a (literal) Muslim-on-the-street (PCSOs are not official police officers) saying that Christians talking about their faith in a Muslim area are, in general, going to get beat up, in a "that’s just the way it is" attitude. If this is the kind of "law enforcement" that the police themselves are backing up, I fear for the freedoms in Britain.
[tags]England,freedom of religion,freedom of speech,Islam,Christianity[/tags]
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