There is a worrying report at the Cranmer blog this evening. It is good that they have highlighted this, because it seems to have gone otherwise unreported.
Mr Miano has recently been out preaching in Wimbledon. He very much enjoys biblical evangelism, speaking about spiritual growth, personal holiness and the person and work of Jesus Christ. On Monday, his theme was sexual immorality – all forms (1Thess 4:1-12). He talked about sin – heterosexual and homosexual – without discrimination. As he was preaching, a lady heard him say that homosexuality was a sin, and promptly summoned the police, who duly arrived.
Mr Miano was then arrested for violating Section 5 of the Public Order Act: he was accused of using homophobic speech likely to cause anxiety, distress, alarm or insult.
He was escorted to Wimbledon police station, where he was photographed, finger-printed and had a DNA sample taken. He was then incarcerated in a cell for seven hours.
And he was interrogated about his faith in Jesus Christ.
He was asked if he believed homosexuality was a sin. He was asked from which portion of the Bible he was preaching. Incredibly, he was asked whether, if a homosexual was hungry and walked up to him, he would give them something to eat.
He was then informed that there was sufficient evidence from his responses to forward his case to the CPS, and that the judge could order him to remain in the country for 4-5 months while his case came to trial.
This story reads like something out of the Keston College annals of religious persecution in Russia. The preacher … the informer … the bullying police-officers … the jeers at religion.
Of course we don’t blame the police for doing what they are told. The rulers of Britain have made this happen, and have ensured that the police will do this when the situation arises. The judges have likewise been screened to ensure that they too will toe the line.
These kinds of stories are troubling because each such incident sends a direct message to Christians: you are not wanted, and we will arrest you if you share your faith. What kind of country directs that message at a harmless minority?
However I have emailed Wimbledon police and asked for a statement. It is always wise to check one’s facts.
In the mean time, may I suggest that Christian readers remember to pray for both the informer, and the policemen involved, as well as the preacher and the blog that reported it.
UPDATE: I find a curiously similar story from 2010. Preacher Dale McAlpine was arrested under similar circumstances, and was committed for trial in September. But on May 1 the Mail on Sunday reported the story, echoed by the Daily Telegraph the next day. Two weeks later the BBC reported that the charge against him had been dropped. On December 18 2010 the Daily Mail reported that the police paid out 7,000 GBP plus legal costs, and refers to “new guidelines” issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers, entitled “Keeping the peace”. Perhaps they should issue a new booklet, and address it to Met Police. They might entitle it “Taking the peace”.