One preson is “offended” by Bible passages, so goodbye Bible.
September 25. 2011
Police have threatened a Christian cafe owner
with arrest –for displaying.passages from the Bible on a TV screen.
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
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’.
But he added: ‘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. It’s crazy. Christians have to stand up for what
they believe in.’
The Salt and Light cafe in Blackpool has for
years repeatedly played the entire 26-hour-long Watchword Bible, a 15-DVD set
produced in America in which a narrator reads the whole of the New Testament, on
a small flatscreen TV on the back wall.
The sound is turned down but the words flash
on to the screen against a series of images.
The cafe, which opened eight years ago, also
prides itself on being an oasis of calm in a high-crime area of Blackpool.
Mr Murray said the two uniformed officers from
Lancashire Constabulary arrived at lunchtime on Monday, the cafe’s busiest time
of day. WPC June Dorrian, the community beat manager, told him there had been a
complaint and he was breaching the Public Order Act 1986.
above, led to the complaint
Mr Murray said: ‘I told them that all that
appeared on the screen were the words of the New Testament. There is no sound,
just the words on the screen and simple images in the background of sheep
grazing or candles burning. I thought there might be some mix-up but they said
they were here to explain the law to me and how I had broken it.
‘I said, “Are you really telling me that I am
facing arrest for playing the Bible?” and the WPC 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.”
Mr Murray, who worked in a homeless shelter
for five years before taking over the cafe three months ago, said he realised
the only way to appease the police was to pull the plug on the Bible.
TV are quotes from the New Testament
‘I was worried about being handcuffed and led
out of the shop in front of my customers. 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.’
Mr Murray said he had been given no indication
of who had complained or which verses of the New Testament had caused the
offence, but he guessed it may have been a reaction to the Book Of Romans that
had been playing the week before. The Book takes the form of a letter from the
apostle Paul to the people of Rome, in which he rails against all manner of
In verses 26-28 of Chapter One he says: ‘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.’
Murray’s DVDs is free to display the Bible any way he chooses, even by playing
The verses take 30 seconds to play and the
Bible translation used is the 2005 Contemporary English Version (CEV), a plain
English text by the American Bible Society.
Experts at the British Bible Society, whose
patron is the Queen, have described it as a well-respected text that, while
using straightforward language, fairly reflected the meaning of the
Lancashire Police said they had
received a complaint on Saturday afternoon from a female customer who was
‘deeply offended’ by the words she had seen on the screen.
The Christian Institute, which is supporting
Mr Murray, said its lawyers had told him he is free to display the Bible in any
way he chooses, and they are preparing a complaint against the police. The
Institute’s spokesman Mike Judge said: ‘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
‘It is a problem right across the country that
the police are under huge political pressure to be seen to respond to anything
Lancashire Police said they had received a
complaint on Saturday afternoon from a female customer who was ‘deeply offended’
by the words she had seen on the screen.
A spokesman said they were ‘duty bound’ to
respond to the complaint and had concluded the cafe could be in breach of
Section 29E of the Public Order Act, which warns that people who play images or
sounds that stir up hatred against homosexuals could be guilty of an
However, it also says criticism of sexual
conduct ‘shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up
A police spokesman said: ‘At no point did the
officer ask the cafe owner to remove any materials or arrest the man and we took
a commonsense and objective approach in dealing with the complaint. We believe
our response and the action we took was completely proportionate and our
officers are always available should the cafe owner want to discuss the matter
or need any advice in the future.
‘The Constabulary is respectful of all
religious views. However, we do have a responsibility to make sure that material
that communities may find deeply offensive or inflammatory is not being
displayed in public.
‘No complaint has been received about the
conduct of the officer in question and we are satisfied that they performed
their duties professionally