Thursday, July 11, 2013
Bible message illegal in London
As crowds swelled in the streets of Wimbledon, London, to watch the famed tennis tournament July 1, Tony Miano stood preaching out of his worn Bible to anyone who would listen. A former Los Angeles County deputy sheriff, Miano now spends his time evangelizing outside of abortion centers and on the street while carrying a cross. He worked for Ray Comfort’s street evangelism ministry until last year and writes for the blog Cross Encounters.
Last Monday afternoon, he preached on 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12, calling on people who have engaged in sexually immoral lifestyles—lust, premarital sex, and homosexuality—to repent.
After 25 minutes, local police cut Miano off and took him into custody. An offended woman had called to complain about the preaching and while street preaching is not illegal—Miano had been preaching for a week already—his offensive message was.
According to London law, anyone who engages in homophobic speech that offends others can be arrested. After questioning the woman, police arrested Miano for breaking Public Order Act Section 5, which prohibits anyone who “uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior … within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.”
The police finished by asking Miano if he thought he had done anything wrong—he said no—and whether he would continue preaching if released, to which Miano answered yes. The police then decided to press charges, telling Miano he likely would spend the night at the station, face a magistrate, and would need to plea for his case.
But an hour later, the inspector changed the decision and opted to release him without any further action. After seven hours, Miano walked free. He documented the experience later in a video: “By God’s grace, I was released with no further action”