Two Christian street preachers questioned by police after preaching on a Surrey high street in December will not face criminal charges.
Charges were dropped against preachers Dave Barker (right) and Stephen Wan (left) after the Christian Legal Centre explained to police that freedom of speech permitted them to explain Christian beliefs
A victory for the street preachers whose case was HEART’s April 2017 cover story
Christian campaigners are celebrating court decisions in favour of three street preachers.
Michael Overd and Michael Stockwell were arrested after preaching in Bristol city centre and fined in February, but Judge Picton overruled the conviction at Bristol Crown Court in July, saying he was “conscious of the right of freedom of speech and freedom of expression”.
Rev Andrew Symes of Anglican Mainstream answers three of the most commonly voiced questions:
Are there other precautions these street preachers should have taken or that others should learn from for the future?
I personally don’t like street preachers who just shout at passers by.
I’ve been involved in street evangelism in the past where music and drama can draw a crowd; there can be a challenging but winsome message, the distribution of tracts and the offer of chat and prayer on a one to one basis.
So I think there can be street preaching that is effective and attractive, or annoying and off-putting. But that’s a matter of taste, and people shouldn’t be arrested for bad taste! If someone is courageous enough to preach in the street, they should perhaps work with local churches to make sure they are in the right place and doing it in a way that attracts people and doesn’t just repel them. I’m talking about the method…
The Crown Prosecution Service has dropped all charges against Michael Jones, a street preacher of Hornsea, who was arrested and charged for comments made about Islam and IS.
The accusations of shouting “All Muslims are terrorists, they should not be allowed in this country, Islam is not a religion, it’s terrorism” and “Islam does not preach the Bible” were proven to be fabricated by a passer-by and a woman on her lunch break. Fortunately, Mr Jones made a recording of all of his preaching, without which he would quite likely have been convicted and would now have a criminal record.
In the last edition of Heart, we brought you news of pastor Josh Williamson who was arrested twice for preaching on the streets of Scotland.
Earlier this month, the London Borough of Wandsworth decided to drop charges against another street preacher, Dominic Muir,