This post is written under UK government restrictions on discussing homosexuality.
Premier Christian Radio reports today:
Preacher’s trial over homosexuality comments adjourned. While standing as an independent election candidate in Colchester Paul Shaw distributed leaflets on which he stated homosexual acts should be made illegal.
Christian Quoter tells us:
Colchester Magistrates today agreed to adjourn the case of Christian brother, Paul Shaw, … [who] said:
“I believe for example that homosexual and lesbian acts are immoral and that the law should reflect that; by making them unlawful as they once were; and so acting as a deterrent to such behaviour. The concept of homophobia is nonsense and a play on words; it is not and has never been a phobia! A phobia is an un-natural fear; whereas a rejection of perverse behaviour; is a righteous godly fear; that fears to do wrong because it knows that there are consequences and punishment otherwise! This is the most pronounced example of a nation that has lost its way …”
It was the Crown Prosecutor who applied for an adjournment. This was in order, he said, to consider the case in the light of freedom of speech. The Magistrate, District Judge David Cooper, agreed.
A further article in Pink News (why is there no Christian comment on this?) says he was arrested on June 11th, and is known around the town as a street preacher. eChurch Christian Blog tells us that Shaw was denounced to the police earlier in the year. The Chelmsford Weekly News has the same story:
District judge David Cooper told him: “You said you were spreading God’s word and when interviewed you said children needed to be protected and basically, homosexuals and lesbians should repent and ask for God’s forgiveness.”
Mr Shaw claimed that there would be “terrible consequences” if homosexuality was not made illegal again soon and warned that God’s judgment was “not very far away”.
He refused to be bound over to keep the peace, which is a criminal conviction. Instead, he said: “In four years, I’ve only dealt with homosexuality about twice. I have to act in good conscience, I’m afraid, and I think [homosexuality] is a particularly significant thing for this nation at this time.” The case was dismissed as the prosecution could offer no written evidence from complainants and Mr Shaw argued his right to free speech.
Mr Cooper warned him that further complaints could land him back in court and said: “There are other sorts of ‘sins’. Do you think you could concentrate on those for a bit?”
Shaw is now due for trial on 23rd September.
I suspect from all this that Mr Cooper is a sensible chap who finds himself wondering why on earth he is being asked to decide what people are allowed to say, and why people can’t just get along. But of course this is the front-line of a political war, and not a court matter at all. One side has managed to get a law passed, allowing it to lock up the other for expressing an opinion. So it was in the days of the State Trials, of evil memory.
I finish this account of religious persecution and interference with free speech with a link to a columnist for the Independent, one of the major UK national newspapers, on The Slow Whining Death of British Christianity, abusing Christians in the most hateful terms possible, for daring to complain of persecution. It reads like something from Der Sturmer.
Let us pray for the United Kingdom, for God’s mercy upon it, and also upon the persecutors, maddened by their vice and swollen with the arrogance that comes from believing oneself powerful. No good consequence comes of such things, except for the church itself. We might also read what Tertullian wrote to Scapula, in time of persecution.
UPDATE: Stephen Green notes in the comments that apparently the prosecution of Paul Shaw has been dropped by the CPS. Good news! Christian Quoter has the story.