Prosecutor: Bible passage 'no longer appropriate in modern society'

(Image courtesy Unsplash)
(Image courtesy Unsplash)

In a case against a street preacher charged for speech condemning homosexuality, a government prosecutor in England argued certain Bible passages “are simply no longer appropriate in modern society.”

John Dunn was charged with violating the Public Order Act by engaging in “threatening,” “abusive” and “insulting” speech when he told a lesbian couple that homosexuals will not “inherit the kingdom of heaven,” citing the Bible, the Daily Signal reported.

A prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service, the office of government prosecutors for England and Wales, wrote in a document sent to the defense before the trial that “there are references in the bible [sic] which are simply no longer appropriate in modern society and which would be offensive if stated in public.”

The case against Dunn, a 55-year-old British army special forces veteran, was dismissed because the lesbian couple declined to testify.

Dunn has preached regularly for 15 years on the streets of the town of Swindon in southwestern England.

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The Daily Signal said a spokesman did not respond to questions about whether the official government prosecution office endorses the claim.

“The non-response from the CPS speaks volumes,” Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which represented Dunn in the case.

“The CPS should be offering a full explanation and apology, not ducking the seriousness of what they have wanted to argue against the Christian faith in court,” she told the Daily Signal.

Williams contended it would not happen to another religious text, such as Islam’s Quran.

“This is a war on Christian culture, with the aim of removing it from the public square,” she said. “If the CPS had won, this would have set a precedent that put Christians on the wrong side of the U.K. law.”

While Britain does not have a First Amendment to protect free speech, Dunn’s defense cited the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The prosecution, in turn, argued that Dunn violated “the similarly protected rights of the aggrieved parties.”

The case centered on a Nov. 1, 2020, incident that began when two women hold hands walked past Dunn while he was preaching in the town center of Swindon.

“I hope you are sisters,” Dunn said.

They replied that they were in a same-sex marriage.

Dunn said he responded out of “genuine concern for the women” when he said, “It says in the Bible that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God,” citing 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.

The women reported Dunn to the police for what they described as “biblical speak.”

The women allege Dunn shouted, “You are going to burn in hell” and referring to one of them as “devil woman.”

Dunn categorically denied making either comment, the Daily Signal reported.

Christian Concern argued Dunn would not have been able to shout at the women because he “lost his voice box following throat cancer.”

Senior Crown Prosecutor Nicholas Hoyle wrote in a Sept. 9, 2021, letter to the defense that the defendant “denies saying to the women that ‘they will burn in hell’ or to one of them ‘you are a devil woman’ – presumably because this would be ‘crossing a line’ into unacceptable behaviour.”

“It is precisely these phrases which form the crux of the prosecution case,” he wrote.

“The Crown does contend that ‘you will burn in hell’ is intrinsically threatening, as well as abusive and intimidating,” Hoyle said. “Targeting comments through a megaphone at specific members of the public is similarly behaviour which the court can legitimately conclude is disorderly. The complainants are clear that the behaviour was ‘offensive’ and ‘upsetting’ – clearly consistent with an interpretation of ‘Harassed, alarmed or distressed.'”

He said that regardless of whether a statement is “of Christian belief or not, the Court is being asked to consider whether the language has the potential to cause harassment, alarm or distress,”

“This document is not the forum for religious debate, but the bible contains other material recognising slavery (Exodus 21:7), the death sentence (Exodus 35:2 and Leviticus 24:16) and cannibalism (Deuteronomy 28:27). There are references in the bible which are simply no longer appropriate in modern society and which would be deemed offensive if stated in public.”

Arrests of street preachers in the U.K. for hate crimes, violating public order or a similar offense have made international headlines in recent years, Fox News noted.

Christian concern highlighted the case of Hatun Tash, who was awarded 10,000 British pounds () in damages in October 2022 for her repeated arrests by Metropolitan Police in London.

Tash, who belongs to a group called Defend Christ Critique Islam, frequently spoke at the famed free speech platform, Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park.

Her speeches and debates sometimes were met with backlash, including an incident in which she was stabbed in the face by Muslims.

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