Street preacher convicted. Michael Overd with his wife Rachel outside Taunton Magistrates Court when he was acquitted in 2012.
A street preacher has been convicted over ‘homophobic’ sermons, the BBC reports.
Michael Overd was preaching in Taunton, Somerset, in June and July 2014.
He was cleared of a second similar charge and another of causing “racially-aggravated” harassment aimed at Muslims. During the case, Mr Overd told the judge he must be born again.
The charges were brought under the Public Order Act.
We were pleased to support Michael Overd when he faced similar charges and was acquitted at Taunton Magistrates Court in 2012.
Mr Overd, 50, was fined £200 and ordered to pay compensation of £250 and costs of £950 totalling £1,400 at Bristol Crown Court.
Sentencing, judge Shamim Qureshi told Mr Overd he “knew full well the power of words to hurt”. We understand the Muslim judge came down from Birmingham to sit in the case, and it was when he referred to Christianity and Islam as joint Abrahamic faiths that Michael Overd urged him to repent and be born again.
He was told to pay £250 to his ‘victim’, Darren Chalmers. Mr Overd said the judgement was “flawed” and told the judge he would have to “answer to the same God”.
After the failed case in 2012, the police began looking for complaints against the long-standing Taunton preacher again last year, appealing in a local newspaper for the public to record him making “offensive remarks”. A number of witnesses said they could not remember what Mr Overd said, just that it was ‘offensive’.
Support for the principle of street preaching came from the Bishop of Peterborough, Rt Rev Donald Allister, who said we should have freedom to express our views, provided it were done in a Christian manner.
A campaign by the Christian Institute to remove the word ‘insulting’ from the Public Order Act was meant to stop preachers being prosecuted, but the police have just switched to charging them with ‘threatening and abusive’ behaviour instead.
Intriguingly, the judge had reserved judgement, which indicates he wanted to take advice from those higher up.
Judge Qureshi told the preacher he seemed to enjoy testing the laws on free speech to their limits. He said: “In my view he enjoys coaxing people into asking him questions so that he can reply loudly into the microphone to answer them.
Mr Overd had “double standards”, the judge said, ‘believing he was right and everyone else was wrong’, according to the BBC, although that does not seem to indicate ‘double standards’, merely settled views. The complainant, Darren Chalmers, appears to have contrary views to Mr Overd which are just as settled.
“He happily shouts out the negative points in any other religion,” said the judge, without acknowledging that the negative points in Islam are not very hard to find.
Asked after the case whether he would tone down his sermons, Mr Overd said: “I follow my Lord and leader, so I won’t tone down.”
Mr Overd had faced two charges of using threatening and abusive words, and a third of causing racially or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress. Only one charge succeeded.
We understand Michael Overd is being advised to appeal to the Crown Court.
PRAY: Thank God for Michael Overd and pray the Lord will bless him and grant District Judge Qureshi in the case repentance and faith in Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
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