A judge in the United Kingdom recently chastised a Christian preacher for referring to the wrong verse in the Bible while sermonizing against homosexuality in 2014, as he convicted him for disturbing public order and required him to pay a fine. District Judge Shamim Qureshi told the guilty Michael Overd, who is notorious for preaching controversial Biblical verses on the streets of Taunton that he should have cited Leviticus chapter 18 instead of chapter 20 to pitch his argument against homosexuality.
Free from the dock, Michael Overd is now preaching outside the court about homosexuality. pic.twitter.com/0Xet8qOUYQ
— Caron Bell (@CaronBellITV) March 23, 2015
“I am amazed that the judge sees it as his role to dictate which parts of the Bible can and can’t be preached. I did not quote the full text of Leviticus 20 or make reference to the death penalty but the judge is telling me that I should use other parts of the Bible,” Overd said in a statement. ”This is not free speech but censorship. The judge is redacting the Bible.”
Overd was convicted under section 5 of the Public Order Act, a legislation that revolves around causing harassment and distress by the use of insulting behavior or abusive language. According to Christian Legal Center, the law firm that represented Overd, the court fined him £200 and an additional £1,200 for costs and compensation. He was cleared of two other charges however – one of which accused him of racially aggravated harassment against Muslims.
Qureshi also said that Overd did not seem to have a scholarly approach towards controversial topics and preached only what little he had learned irrespective of whether it was offensive to others.
After his trial, Overd said he did not intend to tone down his preaching.
Surprisingly, Overd received support from some unlikely quarters, including National Secular Society, a British organization that promotes secularism and the separation of church and state. Despite labeling Overd as obnoxious and differing with his point of view, National Secular Society decided to support his right to freedom of speech.
“It seems almost futile to repeat this mantra, again, but I will add my voice to the chorus: you do not have a right to not be offended,” said Benjamin Jones, the group’s communications director. “This applies just as uncompromisingly if you are a Muslim upset about cartoons of Muhammad, or a gay person distressed by a street preacher claiming that your love life is ‘sinful.’We must be completely unambiguous and unrelenting in our defence of free speech: up to the point of defamation of living people, or incitement to violence, anything goes.”
Below, Overd is seen delivering one of his passionate sermons.
Photo Credits: Days of Revelation