In late May, a Baptist church in Nuneaton, Norfolk, England was brought before the police because of a sign that read:
If you think there is no God you’d better be right!!
There were flames underneath the words.
When 20-year-old Robert Gladwin walked by Attleborough Baptist Church, he was offended by the message that non-Christians would go to hell, so he called the police.
He complained the sign couldn’t be any further from the popular Christian phrase of “loving your neighbor.”
After receiving the complaint, the police visited Pastor John Rose and ordered he take down the sign.
A spokesman for the Norfolk police said:
“Norfolk constabulary received a report regarding a poster outside a church in Attleborough which was deemed offensive by the complainant.
National guidance required us to investigate the circumstance and the matter has been recorded as a hate crime.
Having spoken to the pastor of the church, it has been agreed the poster will be taken down.”
However, not everyone agreed it was a hate crime.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Terry Sanderson of the National Secular Society said:
“If you don’t give speech to everyone then it isn’t free speech and as long as they aren’t inciting violence, then I think it is acceptable to say whatever you want.”
He suggested the police actions were essentially “banning the Bible.”
In an online survey on the Mirror, 75% of the people said the police should not have forced the church to take down the sign.