Nearly 500 years after the Bishop of London burned copies of William Tyndale's New Testament outside of St. Paul's Cathedral, the church is once again at the center of controversy for blocking the reading of scripture.
A man was apparently arrested outside St. Paul's after reading the Bible aloud in public. The street preacher insisted to a police officer that he was "not committing a crime" as the arrest took place.
A video shows a bearded man with an American-sounding accent asking a policeman why he is being told to move on when other people are standing there talking.
The police officer tells him, "I haven't got a problem with what you are doing, but staff here have asked you to move off of the property."
When the preacher protests, the police officer says, "Then I will arrest you for a breach of the peace."
The preacher replies, "You are going to have to do that… The Lord has asked me to read the Bible here. These people need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You are not allowing them to hear."
Another video has surfaced from several months ago of a similar event showing police stopping a man publicly reading the Bible outside St. Paul's, with what appears to be a member of the cathedral management standing close behind the police officers. The man was reading from the "Sermon on the Mount" in Matthew chapter 5.
A police officer called to remove the man says on the video, "I am of the opinion that this chap isn't causing any breach of the peace. This chap isn't impeding anyone. I am happy for him to stay here."
Then a member of the cathedral staff tells the officer, "The Registrar and the Dean and the Chapter have given instructions to the head of security that at any time he shows up he should be asked to leave and we are just following those orders."
But the Christian advocacy group the Barnabas Fund says the cathedral is choosing to be one-sided with its Bible-reading ban.
"The cathedral authorities have not attempted to move on far more disruptive protestors from in front of St. Paul's", says the Barnabas Fund. "For example, in 2011 the area was occupied by hard left 'Occupy London' anti-capitalism protestors who literally set up camp there for months with the Dean of St. Paul's resigning in protest at legal attempts to evict them, even though the protestors had at one stage forced the closure of St. Paul's."
"It seems the cathedral is prepared to tolerate hard-Left protestors outside the cathedral for months, but not someone peacefully reading the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in the 'Sermon on the Mount,'" the Barnabas Fund said.
The arrested preacher was not identified.
Barnabas Fund has launched a petition calling on the British Parliament to protect religious freedom, including the freedom to read Scripture in public.
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