The U.K. prosecutor who presented the government’s case last week against two preachers who were found guilty today of “intentionally alarming” the public with their open-air preaching had argued before the court that the men’s speech declaring Jesus as the only way “cannot be a truth.”
“To say to someone that Jesus is the only God is not a matter of truth. To the extent that they are saying that the only way to God is through Jesus, that cannot be a truth,” prosecutor Ian Jackson declared, according to a press release issued on Tuesday by the Christian Legal Centre.
He contended that Michael Stockwell and Michael Overd had crossed the line by stating that those not following Christ are on the broad path to destruction.
“[Stockwell preached that] people were on their way to Hell because of their failure to adopt the worldview of Christianity,” Jackson told the court.
“If you are trying to come through Catholicism, through Jehovah Witness, through Mormonism, the Bible says you’re a thief and a liar, and a thief comes to steal and destroy. But Christ came that we may have life,” Stockwell had explained during the outreach.
Jackson said that it was also wrong for the preachers to include homosexuals in a list of sinners that included drunkards and thieves, contending that doing so “must be considered to be abusive and is a criminal matter.”
But attorney Michael Phillips of the Christian Legal Centre noted to the court that the men were simply citing 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, which reads, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived: Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
The Daily Mail reports that Jackson “told the court some of the statements made by the preachers may have been in the King James Bible, translated in 1611, but that did not mean they were acceptable in 2016.”
On Tuesday, Justices Robert Stacey, Gerry McDermot and Josephine Ramsden declared Overd and Stockwell guilty of violating the Crime and Disorder Act, which prohibits speech or behavior causing “intentional harassment, alarm or distress” that is “racially or religiously aggravated.”
The verdict against Michael Overd of the U.K. and Michael Stockwell of the U.S. was handed down Tuesday in Bristol Magistrates’ Court. They were fined nearly $2,500 each.