ICC Note: Earlier this year, two preachers in the UK were found guilty of violating the Crime and Disorder Act of 1998 for their open air preaching. Police reported that passersby became offended by their preaching, particularly in response to their messages about the exclusivity of the Gospel. However, after going through an appeals court, the men have been acquitted of their charges.
By Heather Clark
06/29/2017 United Kingdom (Christian News Network) – Two preachers who had been found guilty earlier this year of “intentionally alarming” the public with their open-air preaching have now been acquitted in a UK appeals court.
“We hope and pray that today’s ruling will be an encouragement to Christians across the nation to continue preaching the good news,” defendant Michael Overd said in a statement on Thursday.
As previously reported, Michael Overd and Michael Stockwell had been charged by British officials last July with violating the Crime and Disorder Act of 1998, in allegedly using “threatening or abusive words or behavior or disorderly behavior within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress.” The statute specifically hones in on offenses that are “religiously motivated.”
Overd and Stockwell, along with Adrian Clark and Don Karns, had been taking turns open air preaching outside of the Bristol shopping center on July 6, as well as engaging passersby in conversation and/or holding gospel signs.
Two of those involved in the evangelism effort, Stockwell and Karns, were American citizens visiting the country to share the gospel. The men allegedly preached on a variety of issues, and took questions from those who stopped to listen—questions that ranged from Islam, Buddhism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuality and other moral and religious issues.