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'Believe in Christ for Eternal Salvation': Elderly Street Preacher Wins Case After Being Charged with 'Hate Speech'

In a screenshot from a viral video taken in April of 2021, London Police have interrupted Pastor John Sherwood's sermon, telling him to "come down, you're under arrest." (Screenshot credit: YouTube)

An elderly pastor who was arrested by police last year for preaching on a public street in London has been cleared of all "hate speech" charges against him. He had been accused of a crime for teaching what the Bible says about marriage.

Pastor John Sherwood was acquitted by the Uxbridge Magistrates' Court on April 7, according to his colleague Pastor Peter Simpson writing for the website Conservative Woman

As CBN News reported in April of 2021, Sherwood and Simpson of the Penn Free Methodist Church of Penn, England, were preaching outside of the Uxbridge Underground Station located in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's own constituency, according to Breitbart

After Sherwood's arrest, Simpson described what happened to the preacher in an article for the Conservative Woman website. 

Sherwood, who's in his early 70s, was preaching to people on the final verses found in Genesis 1 of the Bible's Old Testament. 

"God's design in creating mankind was to set human beings in families, headed by a father and a mother, not by two fathers or by two mothers," he said. "The distinction within mankind of just two genders, male and female, made in the image of God, constitutes the essence of God's created order."

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Simpson said a number of police officers appeared and began telling Sherwood they had received three complaints about his preaching. An officer reportedly warned him not to make any "homophobic statements."

After speaking to the police, Sherwood resumed his preaching, speaking on freedom of speech. However, a couple of bystanders in the crowd apparently shouted that his preaching was "homophobic" and "hate speech," and the officers returned to the scene. 

One of the bystanders captured Sherwood's arrest on video and posted it to social media. The video shows Sherwood standing on a step stool as two police officers are talking to him. Much of their conversation is garbled. However, one police officer who can be heard, asks Sherwood to come down, and the preacher answered him. Then the officer tells Sherwood he is "under arrest" and he needs to "come down." Then three police officers are seen pulling Sherwood off the stool.

As one police officer is holding Sherwood's arm, the preacher tries to pull his arm up. This seems to anger the officer who appears to stop himself from kicking the elderly man. 

This draws a response from the person who's videotaping the incident, yelling at police, "You're on camera. You're on camera."

Then two other officers step in to force Sherwood's hands behind his back, treating him roughly as they put him in handcuffs. 

This dignified man of God, who is in his early 70s, was marched off to a nearby police car, as one of the helpers from my church cried out, 'What has happened to us as a nation that a man can no longer preach from the Bible?'" Simpson recalled. 

The elderly pastor spent the night in a detention center located near Heathrow Airport and was not released until noon the following day, according to Simpson. 

Sherwood told Breitbart that during his stay in jail, he was questioned by officers about what he would do if he had a homosexual child.

"It is surely the task of police to ask questions about the specific alleged offense, not more general questions about why someone holds a personal view on an aspect of Biblical morality," he said. 

Sherwood's Trial Filled With Scripture

According to Simpson, Sherwood's trial was "quite remarkable" because "there was so much Scripture quoted" during the proceedings.

"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," he wrote

The court's gallery was filled with fellow Christians showing their support for the preacher who was willing to stand up for biblical truths in public despite the current climate in the UK of embracing the LGBTQ+ agenda as well as other woke, secular ideas. 

Preacher Sworn In Using Own Bible

Before giving his testimony, Sherwood made it a point to ask the judge if he could be sworn in on his Bible rather than following COVID protocols of reading from a card affirming he would speak the truth. His request was granted. 

"During his defense, Pastor Sherwood explained that at no time was he attacking or disparaging any individuals. His motivation was only that his hearers, whoever they might be, might come to repent of sin and believe in Christ for eternal salvation," Simpson wrote

Sherwood's main point in his defense was his right to freedom of expression as stated in Article 10 of the U.K.'s 1998 Human Rights Act

"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," the act states. 

As CBN News has reported, this is not the first time Christian street preachers have had a run-in with the London police.  As we reported in February of 2019, preacher Oluwole Ilesanmi was wrongfully arrested by police when he was falsely accused of 'Islamophobia'. The video of Ilesanmi's arrest went viral on social media. 

The viral video of the incident showed police yanking a Bible from Ilesanmi's hand, while he was pleading "don't take my Bible away. All I wanted was for them to understand the Word of God."

One month later, the Metropolitan police told CBN's Faithwire that, after it became clear that Olu had done nothing wrong, he was subsequently "de-arrested" and no charges were filed.

Ilesanmi was later awarded around $3,100 by Scotland Yard in July of 2019 after an investigation into the incident. 

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