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Street preacher arrested in Glasgow for saying that homosexuals would go to hell

Printer-friendly version A street preacher from the US was arrested by police while responding to questions from people in Glasgow on 18 March 2010.

A street preacher from the US was arrested by police while responding to questions from people in Glasgow on 18 March 2010.

Shawn Holes, 47, from New York State, has prompted concerns over religious freedom in Scotland after being fined £1,000 for telling passers-by in Glasgow city centre that homosexuals would go to hell.

He was accused of breaching the peace by ‘uttering homophobic remarks’ that were ‘aggravated by religious prejudice’.

Mr Holes, who is a Baptist, was asked questions about homosexuality and then answered:

‘Homosexuals are deserving of the wrath of God – and so are all other sinners – and they are going to a place called hell.’

He later explained:

‘There were homosexuals listening – around six or eight of them – who were kissing each other and cuddling, and asking ‘What do you think of this?’

‘It felt like a set-up by gay campaigners.  When asked directly about homosexuality, I told them homosexuals risked the wrath of God unless they accepted Christ.’

He said he had no choice but to admit the charge at Glasgow Sheriff Court because he was desperate to fly home to see his wife, and his father, who is in a hospice.

Tony Kelly, Mr Holes’ solicitor, said:

‘This case raises important issues about the interface between the criminal law and religious freedom.’

Gordon Macdonald, of Christian Action Research and Education for Scotland, said:

‘This is a concerning case.  I will be writing to Chief Constable Stephen House of Strathclyde Police for clarification of the guidance given to police officers in these situations.’

Peter Kearney, spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church, said:

‘We supported this legislation but it is very difficult to see how this man can be charged for expressing a religious conviction.

‘The facts of this case show his statement was clearly his religious belief.  Yes, it is strong language he has used, but it is obviously a religious conviction and not a form of discrimination.’

At the end of 2009, Parliament passed legislation which maintains the important freedom to discuss and to comment on the subject of sexual ethics.  The Government had tried three times to remove the protection, but failed before it reluctantly accepted the position and allowed it to go on the statute book.

(See the CCFON report)

In October 2009, an elderly Christian woman was visited by two police officers informing her that she may have committed a crime after she wrote a letter to her local council blaming homosexuals for ‘their perverted sexual practice’ and sexually transmitted diseases.

After lecturing her about the choice of words, the officers told her that she will not be prosecuted.

Later, Channel 4 News had equated her with murderers who killed Ian Baynham, a homosexual man, in September 2009.

(See the CCFON report)