A criminal case against a Christian street preacher in the UK who was arrested in 2020 for alleged hate speech has been dismissed.
UK government prosecutors have argued that John Dunn, a 55-year-old British Army special forces veteran who has preached openly for 15 years in the south-west English city of Swindon, was guilty of hate speech when offended members of the public by denouncing homosexuality, according to the London-based Christian Legal Center.
Dunn was scheduled for another court hearing on November 13, in which he could have been slapped with a criminal record, but the case was thrown out after the women who complained about him refused to get further involved in the case.
During the November 1, 2020 incident that led to his arrest, Dunn was preaching in Swindon town center when two women walked past him holding hands and he said: “I hope they’re sisters.”
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When the women told him they were in a same-sex marriage, Dunn replied, “It says in the Bible that homosexuals ‘shall not inherit the kingdom of God,'” quoting the sixth chapter of 1 Corinthians. The women later reported him to the police.
When Dunn volunteered to go to the local police station for an interview about the incident, he was told that if he tried to leave the station, he would be arrested under a public order law that prohibits threatening and abusive words or behavior inside the audience. or the sight of someone who is “likely to be harassed, alarmed, or distressed.”
Dunn’s legal counsel, who was retained by the Christian Legal Center, argued that he said what he did to the women out of spiritual concern for them.
Furthermore, they argued that Dunn’s interaction with law enforcement violated his human rights under Articles 9 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) regarding freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and expression.
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Strong opinions “even if they cross the sensibilities of the majority of the population” must be protected, they argued, and that “simply conveying biblical truth” cannot reach the threshold of illegal hate speech.
Lawyers representing the government reportedly maintained that the charges against Dunn were “proportionate” to his words, using Old Testament teachings on the death penalty to argue that “there are references in the Bible that simply aren’t true anymore.” appropriate in modern society and would be considered offensive if said in public”.
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Andrea Williams, executive director of the Christian Legal Center who represented Dunn, praised the legal outcome in a statement provided to Fox News Digital, but said the government prosecutor’s attitude toward the Bible in the case was “deeply concerning.”
“The Bible and its teachings are the foundation of our society and have provided many of the freedoms and protections we still enjoy today,” Williams said. “It is extraordinary that the prosecution, speaking for the state, can say that the Bible contains abusive words that, when spoken in public, constitute a criminal offense.”
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“The view from the [government] was that the Bible is offensive and contains illegal speech that should not be shared in public,” he wrote. “’Offense’ is a completely subjective concept and is easily manipulated to shut down views that people just don’t like. Any suggestion that there is a right not to be offended must be strongly resisted. In today’s democracy, we need the freedom to debate, challenge and disagree.”
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Arrests of street preachers in the UK for hate crimes, disorderly conduct or some similar offense have repeatedly made international headlines in recent years.
Most recently, London’s Metropolitan Police apologized in October and paid £10,000 in damages to Hatun Tash, a Christian evangelist who disputed her multiple arrests in 2020.
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Tash, who belongs to a group called Defend Christ Critique Islam (DCCI), often spoke at Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park and sometimes provoked backlash for publicly debating Islam and the Quran, including an incident at the who was reportedly stabbed in the face. by Islamic extremists.