Owner of Christian café in UK warned by police against exhibiting Bible verses
A man in the UK was warned recently by police that the Christian cafe that he owns is in breach of public order laws because it shows Bible verses on a TV screen.
Jamie Murray, owner of Salt and Light Café in Blackpool, was told by Lancashire Police that a customer had complained about offensive material being displayed in the cafe, but the police did not specify what the offending Bible verses were.
The Café regularly plays a DVD version of the Watchword Bible, which contains the entire New Testament on 12 DVDs, on a TV screen. It had been doing so without incident for eight years.
The DVDs combine video, narration, text, sound effects and music to portray all 27 New Testament books from the Contemporary English Version of the Bible.
The police told Murray that a customer was offended by a Biblical passage and said that this was in breach of the Public Order Act, Section Five. Murray told BBC that he asked the two policemen, “Are you seriously telling me I could be arrested for playing the Bible quietly on a screen?”
Murray told the BBC, “I was quite incredulous at the way they treated me. I was told, ‘it’s offensive and homophobic material we are against.’” However, no specific Bible verse was cited by the police.
Murray told The Gazette, “I’m not here to insult or offend anyone, but the Bible is the Bible. We’re always being told we’re a tolerant and diverse nation. Yet the very thing that gave us those values – Christianity – is being sidelined.”
Murray asked the two policemen if he could display Bible verses that didn’t talk about homosexuality. The police replied that they would be looking for anything that would be viewed as insulting or offensive by people.
Murray told BBC, “I was just incredulous because we all know the list of things that we find offensive is massive and varied and we don’t expect the police to get involved.”
The Lancashire Police denied to The Gazette that they had asked Murray to stop showing the Bible verses, but did admit that they spoke to him because a customer had complained.
Murray is considering filing a complaint.
In 2005, the Lancashire Police were sued by Joe and Helen Roberts from Fleetwood, whom they interrogated over allegations that the couple had made homophobic remarks.
The police also stopped the couple from placing Christian tracts beside gay rights literature in Poulton’s civic center. Because of this, the Roberts’ filed a case with the help of The Christian Institute and the police had to pay some $15,000 to the couple.
Sam Webster, solicitor-advocate of the Christian Institute told WorldNetDaily, “Mr. Murray … may well have grounds for a legal action against the police for infringing his rights to free speech and religious liberty.”
Mike Judge, Christian Institute spokesman, told WND, “I’d have thought Lancashire constabulary would have learned their lesson after paying out 10,000 [British pounds] to a pair of Christian pensioners who they had interrogated over their views on gay rights.”
The Lancashire Police told The Gazette that they were “duty bound” to act on the complaint they received and to visit the Christian café. A spokesman told The Gazette, “The officer discussed the matter with the cafe owner and explained to them the legislation that is in place around materials that are displayed or broadcast in a public environment.
“At no point did the officer ask the cafe owner to remove any materials or arrest the man and we took a common sense and objective approach in dealing with the complaint.
“We believe our response was completely proportionate and our officers are always available should the cafe owner want to discuss the matter or need any advice in the future.”
Murray, however, disagreed. He told WND, “It felt like an interrogation. … We are approaching a state where people can be possibly arrested just for displaying the Bible in public. What’s next? Police going into churches and saying you can’t say this or that?”
Murray temporarily stopped the display of Bible verses, but now that he is getting legal advice from the Christian Institute, he has since restored them.
Judge, of Christian Institute, told WND, “We’ve all seen the police stand by while extremist Muslims hold placards calling for infidels to be beheaded, but woe betides a Christian café displaying Bible text.”
Webster told WND, “It ought to go without saying that reading the Bible out loud in a public place, or displaying Bible texts in a Christian café, is not of itself a criminal offense. I am alarmed that I even have to point that out.”