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Police apologise to Christian café owner

Police have given a partial apology to the owner of a Christian café who was wrongly told displaying Bible verses on a TV screen was a breach of public order laws.
 


Christian cafe owner Jamie Murray was warned recently by two police officers to stop playing DVDs of the New Testament in his cafe following a complaint from a customer that it was inciting hatred against homosexuals. However the police have now given a partial apology to Mr. Murray.

A report by the Christian Institute
states that police have now visited the café owner , admitted they got the law wrong, and said sorry for the ‘manner’ of their investigation. But they refused to apologise for launching the investigation and they also denied banning the display of the Bible texts in the café.

The report continues:

Forgiven
The café owner, Jamie Murray, says he accepts the police’s apology as far as it goes. He forgives them but he believes some important matters remain unaddressed.

Mr Murray says he will not allow the police to brush the incident under the carpet, because he is worried that it could happen to another Christian.

Supported by The Christian Institute, he has taken legal advice and intends to lodge a formal complaint with the police.


Obfuscate

The police claim they never told Mr Murray that he couldn’t display the Bible texts. But Mr Murray says the police are obfuscating.

He says he asked the police whether displaying the Bible texts was a crime, and they indicated he could be arrested if he continued to display the offensive or insulting material.

There also appears to be confusion over which part of the Public Order Act 1986 the police were using to justify their actions.

Confusion

Originally two police officers told Mr Murray they were investigating a possible Section 5 offence, which outlaws insulting words that are likely to cause distress.

But days later the police told the media they were investigating a possible Section 29E offence, which outlaws the broadcasting of offensive material intended to stir up homophobic hatred.

The Christian Institute’s solicitor-advocate, Sam Webster, says that simply displaying Bible texts in a Christian café does not fall within the scope of either offence.

And many will doubt whether the police action was an ‘investigation’ at all, given that the police failed to look at the material that allegedly caused offence, or give Mr Murray an opportunity to refute the allegation or explain his position. They seemed to have predetermined that he was in the wrong.

Relief

The Christian Institute’s Mike Judge said: “Mr Murray is obviously pleased that the police have admitted to some of their mistakes.

“He is certainly relieved that he doesn’t face arrest for displaying Bible verses in his Christian café.

“As a Christian he accepts the police’s apology, as far as it goes, and he forgives them.

Unfinished

“But there are some issues that the police have not acknowledged or apologised for, and some important details remain in dispute.

“Mr Murray doesn’t want to see this happen to anyone else, so he intends to lodge an official complaint with the police.

“He isn’t doing this for himself, he’s doing this so that we can live in a free society where the text of the Bible can be publicised without police interference.

Shuddering

“It is shuddering to think that a British police force in the 21st Century needs to be reminded of such basic civil liberties.

“There is clearly a need for Lancashire police force to review the training of its officers.”

Lancashire Police told the BBC: “It appears that the officer has misinterpreted the Public Order Act and we have apologised to the cafe owner for any distress we may have caused.”

The constabulary said it respected all religious views but said, “we have no issues with the professionalism or courtesy shown by the officer”.

Christian Institute, 03/10/2011

Feedback:
Peter Carr 04/10/2011 09:35
Interesting that in this day and age when we are exposed to all sorts of obscene sexual images via multi-media, that the bible should be singled out!! Twisted or what?
Editor 04/10/2011 11:27
This is the moral inversion that Isaiah spoke of:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Is 5:20

Anne Widdecombe has recently written:
“Does the Chief Constable of Lancashire want to ban the Bible itself? After all that is the logic of his position if what his force is doing meets with his approval.”

"Has anyone noticed that it’s always Christians who end up on the wrong side of the law? Who brings test cases against the owners of Muslim guest houses?”
Editor 04/10/2011 18:06
It is interesting,and perhaps of no little insignificance, that such is the perceived importance of what is happening in Britain that more and more of these incidents (including now the one above) are being picked up and commented on by the Christian community in the US.
Jenny 04/10/2011 19:35
yes - I was reading a book by an American evangelical Christian which took me aback somewhat. The author related a string of incidents I already knew of thanks to the Christian Institute, but it was something else to see them presented in a context of "just look what horrors are going on abroad and aren't you glad this is the States, but remember we could be next!!!"
Jenny 04/10/2011 19:45
It's not too surprising though, really.
Once again, Britain leads the world!
One of the leaders of the Reformation, we were still ahead of the curve in Darwinian apostasy, and now in belligerent atheism. while the US got stalled somewhere along the line and as a result can still field politicians godly enough to bring down the wrath of a Dawkins.

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