The Daily Telegraph carried a report today about Mr Hayworth, a street preacher, and his father who the police “threatened to arrest for reading the Bible in public.” Andrea Minichiello Williams, the director of the Christian Legal Centre wrote to Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester after being contacted by the couple and arranged for them to be represented by a lawyer. She claims that Mr Hayworth and his father were unlawfully and unfairly treated as they preached Christianity in the city at the end of July.
I only have the Telegraph report as a source of information. The report says Mr Hayward was reading passages from the Old and New Testaments while his father distributed leaflets containing the message of the gospel. What Christianity were they preaching that day in Manchester, what passages from the OT and NT were they reading, what gospel message did the tracts contain?
The passages included Romans 1.27 and 1 Corinthians 6.9 from the King James Bible:
“And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly…”
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.”
Chief Inspector Chris Hill said the police were called to St Ann’s Square following complaints from members of the public who considered the comments being made by two street preachers were racist and homophobic. “When spoken to, the men said they were quoting from the Bible. The officers confirmed they were entitled to preach on the street, but advised them offensive behaviour is not acceptable.”
It would seem that Mr Hayward was not preaching the Gospel, at least not the Good News of Jesus Christ as I understand it, but specifically preaching against homosexuality. The law says it is it is an offense to use offensive, threatening or abusive words or behaviour and to incite hatred on grounds of race, religion or sexual orientation. Using selective texts from Leviticus, Romans and 1 Corinthians is not preaching the Gospel of Jesus. It is preaching selectively with the effect of inciting hatred towards those of a particular sexual orientation.
The Christian Legal Centre is fighting for the right to incite hatred against homosexuals. The law says they can’t. The Centre maintains that Christians have a right to read the Bible in its entirety and preach from it, whoever they might offend – but most cases they represent seem to involve preaching against homosexuality.
The report says the Christian Legal Centre “seeks to promote religious freedom and, particularly, to protect Christians and Christianity.” It does not represent the majority of Christians in this country and it does not protect Christians and Christianity – quite the reverse. It is fuelling prejudice against LGBT people and doing untold harm to mission and evangelism, portraying the church as sex-obsessed and against loving, adult gay relationships.