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UK Police Admit Persecuting Street Preacher

by | Mon, Mar 4 2024

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An English police force has admitted it over-reacted in attempting to stop a street preacher from commenting publicly on other religions. Avon and Somerset Police issued a Community Protection Notice to Bristol-based pastor Dia Moodley that prohibited him from passing comments on any other religion and atheists, or comparing them to Christianity. He was also banned from delivering a sermon or religious address at a time or place that did not have prior police consent and approval and from “passing comments on beliefs held by those who believe in evolution”.

Christian Today reports the police agreed to settle Pastor Moodley’s claim for damages on the grounds of religious discrimination conceding their actions were “disproportionate”. He welcomed the outcome, saying he had received some measure of justice after having been wrongfully silenced. He said it’s not up to police to decide which religions or worldviews can be free from criticism.

“When I preach, I am committed to speaking about the good news of Christianity in love, grace, and truth, but that doesn’t mean that I will never say something that others may disagree with. The nature of a free and democratic society is that we can speak publicly about our beliefs. This creeping culture of censorship is detrimental to all of us in society, whatever we believe, and we must challenge it wherever we see it, ” the pastor asserted.

Pastor Moodley’s lawyers from ADF UK said that the restrictions on free speech in his  notice amounted to unlawful censorship. Legal counsel Jeremiah Igunnubole said: “Bristol authorities unabashedly requested prior review of Dia’s sermons and banned him from speaking about any other religion, including atheism. This blatantly restricted his freedom of religion and speech in an attempt to redefine established British values in accordance with their own ideals.”

“Whilst we welcome the police force’s admission that their actions were “disproportionate”, it is crucial that the laws permitting such flagrant violations of freedom of speech are urgently addressed to prevent the need for Dia and others like him from being embroiled in years of legal proceedings only to defend what should have instantly been recognised as their lawful, peaceful and constitutional rights to speak freely in public,” he declared.

Bryn Harris, chief legal officer for the Free Speech Union noted: “The state does not hold a monopoly on truth, and the ability to discuss and debate ideas, including religious ideas, is the lifeblood of any genuinely free society. Yet, repeatedly, we see this principle violated by unaccountable police officers and local councils who aggressively pursue their own ideological causes rather than using scarce public resources to tackle real crime.”

Photo: ADF UK