Case against Christian couple thrown out
Whilst the charges against the Christian owners of a guest house has been thrown out this week, the case raises serious questions about how the case ever went as far as it did.
With the help of the Christian Institute and expert legal advice the charge against guesthouse owners Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang was thrown out of court by the judge, however the case raises very serious concerns about the nature of the society in which we are living and the extent to which the police, procurator fiscals office and the legal service were involved in a protracted and expensive action about an alleged exchange of words in a domestic situation.
One left-leaning national newspaper which does not have a reputation for supporting traditional views reported the outcome under the heading Common sense triumphs in Liverpool writing: 'The dismissal of the case against a Liverpool couple charged with insulting a Muslim guest is excellent news.'
The report in the Guardian stated: 'This is the kind of thing that brings the law, Islam, Christianity, and the idiot police who charged them all into disrepute. For once, the Christian Institute, which funded their defence, was right to portray Christians as the victims of a biased secular bureaucracy. But it was not the Christian Institute which brought the law and the police into disrepute. The police did that themselves.'
Read the full report in the Guardian ....
The normal procedure (in Scotland at least) would be that any complaint would be investigated by the police and the evidence then presented to the procurator fiscal in order establish whether there was sufficient support for a case to be brought.
In dismissing the case District Judge Richard Clancy stated: “I’m not satisfied on the facts that this case has been made out.” He questioned Mrs Tazi’s version of events which amounted to “fairly big differences as to what happened”. Judge Clancy also said Mrs Tazi’s claim that she was verbally abused for up to an hour was not backed up by other witnesses.
The couple were supported throughout by the Christian Institute and a legal team. Hugh Tomlinson QC, who was representing the Vogelenzangs, said: “The fact that someone is upset or offended is not a reason for criminalising the speech used by the other person.”
The couple faced a £5,000 fine and a criminal record if found guilty of the charge but the court’s ruling means they are entirely innocent. A major client of the couple’s hotel ceased referring guests because of the allegations.
Read report full report from the Christian Institute.
The book 'The spirit of Islam', by the Muslim scholar, Afif A. Tabbarah was written to promote Islam. On page 247, Tabbarah stated: "Lying is not always bad, to be sure; there are times when telling a lie is more profitable and better for the general welfare, and for the settlement of conciliation among people, than telling the truth. To this effect, the Prophet says: 'He is not a false person who (through lies) settles conciliation among people, supports good or says what is good."
Whatever the truth of this case the fact that it was brought to court in the first place illustrates the nature of our society and the serious threat facing freedom of speech.
However Jesus simultaneously forewarned and encouraged his followers:
"But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. " And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations.
" And when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit."
Through the period between the initial complaint and the subsequent dismissal of charges the Vogelenzang's have suffered an 80 per cent drop in the hotel’s income, leaving the couple in financial difficulty. They have been supported by Christians in prayer in their church, their locality and beyond. God is no man's debtor and Jesus also promised that he would confess to his Father in heaven those that confessed him before men (Matt 10:32).Footnote:
In different circumstances other Christian guest house owners have come under duress in terms of the Sexual Orientation Regulations
Christians Together, 11/12/2009