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Suppression of Dissent::

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports:

[Evangelical Christian Stephen Green] faces a court appearance today charged with using 'threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour' after his attempt to distribute the leaflets at the weekend 'Mardi Gras' event in Cardiff.

A spokesman for the police said the campaigner had not behaved in a violent or aggressive manner, but that officers arrested him because 'the leaflet contained Biblical quotes about homosexuality'....

The anti-gay campaigners were first asked by police to leave the site of the [Mardi Gras event] following 'complaints from the public', and complied with the request. However, they were approached again by police when they began handing out leaflets at the entrance to the park where the Mardi Gras was staged.

Mr Green refused to stop distributing leaflets and was arrested, and then questioned for four hours at a police station. He was charged after refusing a caution.

The leaflets were headed Same-Sex Love - Same-Sex Sex: What does the Bible Say?, and included a series of quotations from the 1611 King James Bible, a text usually regarded as one of the foundation stones of the English language.

Aimed at demonstrating Biblical disapproval of homosexual sex, they included from the Old Testament Leviticus 18.22, 'Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination'.

The leaflets also quoted Romans 1:25-27 from the New Testament, to the effect that homosexuals are given to 'vile affections'.

The handbills urged homosexuals to 'turn from your sins and you will be saved'.

The charge against Mr Green is that he used 'threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby', contrary to the Public Order Act 1986....

Colin Hart of the Christian Institute think tank said: 'This was a very gentle leaflet. There was no use of words like "perversion". I have to wonder if churches, bishops and archbishops are now vulnerable to arrest for their views on homosexuality....'

There may well be more to the case than the article reports, of course; if readers know more, I'd much appreciate their pointing it out. I should note that I'm puzzled by Mr. Hart's distinction between "perversion" and "vile"/"abomination," but I agree that it's hard to draw a principled line between Mr. Green's leaflets and broadcasts, newspaper articles, and other anti-homosexuality items that may "insult[]," "alarm," or "distress" some readers. It does look like publicly teaching traditional Christianity might indeed be a crime in England.

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