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Christian cafe owner banned from displaying Bible verses

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A Christian cafe owner in Blackpool has been told to stop displaying Bible verses on a TV screen in his café and threatened with arrest.

Jamie Murray, the owner of Salt and Light cafe, was approached by police last Monday, 19thSeptember, after they had received a complaint that some of the verses were “homophobic” and “insulting.”

The police officers informed Mr Murray that displaying words from the Bible breached Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which states that use of “insulting words” is enough to constitute a criminal offence.

Mr Murray uses a set of DVDs called the Watchword Bible, which display each verse of the New Testament successively. In the Salt and Light cafe, the DVDs are played with the audio muted.

Describing the encounter, he said:

“I couldn’t believe the police were saying I can’t display the Bible. The officers were not very polite, in fact they were quite aggressive. It felt like an interrogation.

“I said ‘surely it isn’t a crime to show the Bible?’ But they said they had checked with their sergeant and insulting words are a breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act. I was shocked.

“I’m not here to insult or offend anyone, but the Bible is the Bible. We’re always being told that we’re a tolerant and diverse nation. Yet the very thing that gave us those values – Christianity – is being sidelined.

“I’m not looking to make a name for myself, I’d rather be quietly getting on with running my café. But there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough.”

Initially Mr Murray stopped playing the DVDs but, having since obtained legal advice, has begun to show them again.

There has been some concern over the presence of the word ‘insulting’ in Section 5 of the Public Order Act, with many suggesting that it has given rise to occasions of police misusing the law. As a result, several groups are calling for the word to be removed.

An amendment to remove the word from Section 5 has been tabled in the House of Commons as part of the Protection of Freedoms Bill and the Home Office has promised to consult on the matter.

Andrea Williams commented:

“It is extremely worrying that the police saw fit to stop Mr Murray showing Bible verses in his cafe. This is indicative not only of broader attempts to eliminate Christianity from public life but also the crippling fear of causing offence that has now taken root as a result of the ideology of political correctness, which is nothing more than an attempt to control what people are allowed to think or say.

“If the Bible itself is now deemed offensive by the police then that has huge ramifications for religious freedom across the nation. This is pure totalitarianism and against everything Britain used to stand for.”


Daily Mail

Christian Concern: Religious Freedom