Street Preacher Fined, Judge Rules on Appropriateness of Bible Verses in Public

Country: United Kingdom

Date of incident: March 24, 2015

Taunton street preacher Mike Overd has been convicted of a Public Order offence for using a particular bible verse in a public conversation with a man who identifies as homosexual. The judge ruled that another bible verse would have been more appropriate and would have prevented the fine.

District Judge Shamim Ahmed Qureshi said that Mike Overd shouldn't have referred to Leviticus 20:13 to make his point about homosexual practice in the conversation, but indicated that he could have used Leviticus 18:22. The Judge said that Leviticus 20:13 was inappropriate because it mentions the death penalty, although the preacher insists that he did not use this part of the verse. “I am being punished for words that never passed my lips,” said the preacher. Judge Qureshi imposed a fine of £200 on Mr Overd and told him to pay a total of £1,200 in costs and compensation for causing “emotional pain.”  Mr. Overd expressed his shock that a Judge would adopt the role of Biblical censor, effectively dictating which parts of the Bible are fit for public preaching. “I am amazed that the Judge sees it as his role to dictate which parts of the Bible can and can't be preached. I did not quote the full text of Leviticus 20 or make reference to the death penalty but the Judge is telling me that I should use other parts of the Bible. This is not free speech but censorship. The Judge is redacting the Bible." “I have been ordered to pay compensation for causing ‘emotional pain’ to someone who approached me aggressively demanding to debate the issue. There was no harm, injury or theft, just a simple disagreement over theology which I have now been fined for." “My motivation for preaching the gospel is my love for Jesus Christ and my deep concern for people who do not know His great love and are heading towards an eternity separated from God.”

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