Street Preacher Arrested for Marriage Comments Regains Freedom in UK

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Pastor John Sherwood of the Penn Free Methodist Church in north London has regained his freedom after he was arrested for preaching that marriage is between a man and a woman.

The 72-year-old street preacher was cleared by the Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court for charges including "hate speech" and supposedly causing "alarm and distress" with his message in the city.

In Sherwood's defense, Article 10 of the 1998 Human Rights Act, was cited. The act states that, “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority.”

In April 2021, police officers approached Sherwood after he preached from the book of Genesis 1:27-28, explaining that marriage is the union of one man and woman. According to the officers, they have received complaints from three people about his preaching. Hence, they arrested him on the grounds of causing “alarm and distress” to members of the public.

Christian Today reported that the preacher was detained overnight on April 23, 2021, in a police station. In September 2021, he was charged under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which outlaws “threatening or abusive words or behavior likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress."

Sherwood’s colleague, Pastor Peter Simpson, who was with Sherwood at the time of his preaching, told Conservative Woman U.K, “The trial was quite remarkable in that there was so much Scripture quoted in it. Pastor Sherwood was determined to impress upon the prosecution that everything that he ever preaches upon is grounded in the final authority of God’s word, the Bible.

"At the trial, the public gallery was full with Christians showing their support for a man of God who is willing to stand up for the truths of Scripture. And after the trial, Pastor Sherwood recited words of the hymn, 'To God be the glory, Great things he hath done.'"

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