BY DAVID V BARRETT
A STREET preacher in Workington, Cumbria, has been arrested for saying that homosexuality is a sin.
Dale McAlpine, 42, was preaching outside a mobile phone shop in the Cumbrian town last month when he listed homosexuality among a number of sins referred to in the First Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians, including blasphemy, fornication, adultery and drunkenness.
Mr McAlpine, a Baptist, said later that after he had spoken to a woman she spoke to a police community support officer who then approached him.
PCSO Sam Adams told him there had been complaints about his preaching and warned him that if he made racist or homophobic remarks he could be arrested.
Mr McAlpine said: “I told him I was not homophobic but sometimes I did say that the Bible says homosexuality is a crime against the Creator, but it was not against the law to say this.
“The PCSO then told me he was gay and he was the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender liaison officer for the police. I said: ‘It is still a sin’, and our conversation ended. It wasn’t a loud or aggressive conversation.” But the police said his remarks were loud enough to be heard by others, and charged him with using abusive or insulting language contrary to the Public Order Act. He was taken away in the back of a police van and kept in a cell for seven hours.
“I felt deeply shocked and humiliated that I had been arrested in my own town and treated like a common criminal in front of people I know, he said” Mr McAlpine said: “My freedom was taken away on the hearsay of someone who disliked what I said, and I was charged under a law that doesn’t apply.” The Public Order Act is usually used to curb football hooligans and street rioters. Sam Webster, a solicitor for the Christian Institute, says it is not a crime to say you believe that homosexual conduct is a sin.
“A Christian who stands in a public place and expresses his religious beliefs in the hope of persuading passersby of his views – that is freedom of speech.
“Yes, the police have a duty to maintain public order but they also have a duty to defend the lawful free speech of citizens. It’s not for police to decide whether Mr McAlpine’s views are right or wrong.
“Case law has ruled that the orthodox Christian belief that homosexual conduct is sinful is a belief worthy of respect in a democratic society.”