The effort to remove God’s Word from society continues in the UK as Jamie Murray, a Christian and owner of the Salt and Light Cafe was threatened with arrest by police for playing Bible verses from a DVD on a screen in the place of business that he owns. As the UK Daily Mail reported:
Jamie Murray was warned by two police officers to stop playing DVDs of the New Testament in his cafe following a complaint from a customer that it was inciting hatred against homosexuals.
Mr Murray, 31, was left shocked after he was questioned for nearly an hour by the officers, who arrived unannounced at the premises.
He said he had turned off the Bible DVD after an ‘aggressive inquisition’ during which he thought he was going to be arrested and ‘frog-marched out of the cafe like a criminal’.
The cafe, for years, had played the Watchword Bible, a 266 hour DVD set that displays Bible verses of the entire New Testament with a narrator reading the verses aloud. The volume is kept on mute during hours of operation so only the verses display.
The passage that caused the controversy was from Romans 1:
‘God let them follow their own evil desires. Women no longer wanted to have sex in a natural way, and they did things with each other that were not natural.
‘Men behaved in the same way. They stopped wanting to have sex with women and had strong desires for sex with other men. They did shameful things with each other, and what has happened to them is punishment for their foolish deeds.’
According to Mr. Murray, when the authorities arrived at his cafe, he was subjected to an ‘aggressive inquisition.’
“I said, ‘Are you really telling me that I am facing arrest for playing the Bible?’ and the [officer] fixed me with a stare and said, ‘If you broadcast material that causes offence under the Public Order Act then we will have to take matters further. You cannot break the law.'”
He then turned off the TV. “I was worried about being handcuffed and led out of the shop in front of my customers,” Murray said. “It wouldn’t have looked good so I thought it was better to comply. It felt like a betrayal. They left the shop and told me they would continue to monitor if we were displaying inflammatory material. At no stage had they spoken to me like I was a law-abiding citizen trying to earn a living. I felt like a criminal.”
The police said they received a complaint from a woman who said she was “deeply offended” by the verse on the screen. According to the UK’s Public Order Act of 1986, Section 29E makes it unlawful for any person who plays images or sounds that stir up hatred against homosexuals. However, the same ordinance says that ‘criticism of sexual conduct shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.’ So again, on the face of it, the display of a Bible verse that discusses homosexuality being a sin, does not appear to be a violation. That such an innocuous crime could lead to this cafe owner appearing on arrest records (go here) seems ludicrous.
The Christian Institute, a legal advocacy group for believers, is representing Mr. Murray. They believe the law in is on his side. The Institute’s spokesman, Mike Judge, stated:
‘I have no problem with the police looking into a complaint, but once they realised it was just the words of the Bible being shown on the screen then they should have walked away. ‘They did not even look at the offending DVD. They simply told Mr Murray that he had to stop showing the Bible and warned him that they would continue to monitor what he was doing. This is intimidatory and completely unacceptable. ‘It is a problem right across the country that the police are under huge political pressure to be seen to respond to anything homophobic.’
It’s important to note that Mr. Murray was not using the Bible to target gays or anyone. The Word of God, even when it is critical of a sin, should not be used to attack or offend others: “6:3 Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed:” (1 Corinthians). As Christians, our actions should never seek to offend. We are to love others, even when they are not returning that love. But displaying the Bible in the manner of this cafe is something we should never be afraid or embarrassed to do, even if it is something that homosexual advocates disagree with. The Bible says: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” -Romans 1:16.
Mr. Murray is resolved to pursue his religious freedom:
“I have now checked on my rights and I am not going to be bullied by the police and the PC lobby out of playing the Bible silently in my cafe,” he said. “It’s crazy. Christians have to stand up for what they believe in.”
Continue to pray for the saints all over the world going through all types of persecution. While what Mr. Murray experienced may not be nearly as severe as the struggles of believers in other nations, it is certainly a move in the direction against the faith. Fortunately, he is not ashamed.