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Christian preacher who said that homosexuality is sinful walks free

Printer-friendly version Common sense and the rule of law have prevailed after charges were dropped against a Christian preacher who said that homosexual conduct is sinful.

Common sense and the rule of law have prevailed after charges were dropped against a Christian preacher who said that homosexual conduct is sinful.

Dale Mcalpine, 42, was arrested and hauled before the courts after a homosexual police officer arrested him on 20 April 2010 for saying that homosexuality is going against the word of God. He was held in a cell for several hours before being charged with a public order offence.

(See the CCFON report)

Yesterday, 13 May 2010, charges against Mr Mcalpine were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) as preaching peacefully that homosexuality is a sin is not against the law. In response to the CPS’s decision, Mr Mcalpine said:

'It's good news. I'm relieved the police and the Crown Prosecution Service have finally seen sense. It was a ridiculous charge and I should never have been arrested in the first place. The whole thing was like fiction. It was surreal.

‘You couldn't have made it up. It was crazy. I hope this result guarantees freedom of speech for everyone in future.'

‘I think the PCSO abused his power, it's oppression – it's not right. It is concerning that this could happen in 2010. I have never been arrested in my life. It was an embarrassing experience. They treated me like a common criminal,’ he added.

On 20 April 2010, Mr Mcalpine was involved in his usual business of preaching the Christian Gospel to the public in Workington, Cumbria. He did not mention any aspects of homosexuality while delivering a sermon from the top of a stepladder, but admitted telling a passing shopper that he believed it went against the word of God.

When he was handing out leaflets explaining the Ten Commandments or offering a ‘ticket to heaven’ with a church colleague, a woman approached and engaged him in a debate about the Christian faith. During the conversation, he says he quietly listed homosexuality among a number of sins referred to in the Bible, 1 Corinthians.

After the woman walked away, she was approached by the PCSO who spoke with her briefly and then walked over to Mr McAlpine and told him a complaint had been made, and that he could be arrested for using racist or homophobic language.

Police officers are alleging that he made the remark in a voice loud enough to be overheard by others and have charged him with using abusive or insulting language, contrary to the Public Order Act.

The PCSO then said he was homosexual and identified himself as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender liaison officer for Cumbria police.

Melanie Phillips, an Orwell Prize winning journalist and author, wrote at the time of Mr Mcalpine’s arrest:

‘... so we have the oppressive and sinister situation where a gentle, unaggressive Christian is arrested and charged simply for preaching Christian principles.

‘It would appear that Christianity, the normative faith of this country on which its morality, values and civilisation are based, is effectively being turned into a crime.  Surreally, this intolerant denial of freedom is being perpetrated under the rubric of promoting tolerance and equality – but only towards approved groups.

‘Never has George Orwell's famous satirical observation, that some people are more equal than others, appeared more true,’ she added.

After the charges were dropped, a spokesman for the Emmanuel Evangelical Church, where Mr McAlpine worships, said:

'It is great news for Dale. He is a happy man and now he can get back to doing what he loves, speaking the word of God.’

Chief Superintendent Steve Johnson, of Cumbria Police, said:

‘Our officers and staff often have to make difficult decisions while balancing the law and people’s rights.  This is not easy especially when opinions and interpretations differ.  We would like to reassure the public that we respect, and are committed to upholding, the fundamental right to freedom of expression.

‘We are just as committed to maintaining the peace and preventing people feeling alarmed or distressed by the actions of others in public places.  The Crown Prosecution Service has carefully assessed the evidence in the case and has decided to discontinue the prosecution of Mr McAlpine.’