An English judge has penalized Michael Overd $2,100 for citing certain portions of the Bible in public. This included a $300 fine and paying $1,800 in compensation for causing “emotional pain.”
Last summer, Overd, a former British paratrooper, was street preaching in Taunton in the county of Somerset, England with a loudspeaker when spoke of Leviticus 20. The chapter speaks of the death penalty for homosexuality (verse 13). Though he referenced the chapter, Overd, who has been a street preacher for five years, claims he never spoke about the death penalty.
Two homosexuals came forward claiming Overd had offended them leading to two charges. There was also a charge of harassment of Muslims, but it was dropped. In the end, Michael was convicted on only one count — preaching a “homophobic” sermon, fined, and also ordered to pay compensation to the two men.
Overd, 50, claims the two approached him to discuss his preaching and though it became heated Overd said, “there was no harm, injury or theft, just a simple disagreement over theology which I have now been fined for.”
WND reports that Justice Shamin Ahmed Qureshi, who oversaw the case, also serves on the Muslim Arbitration Tribunal that provides oversight to Islamic Sharia courts across Britain.
According to Christian Concern, Qureshi stated if Michael had simply referred to Leviticus 18:22 that describes homosexuality as an abomination, there would not have been problem. But when the preacher strayed into chapter 20, it became a crime.
Overd initially stated he would not pay the fine, but changed his mind when the judge threatened 45 days of jail time.
In response to the fine, Overd said:
“I am amazed that the judge sees it as his role to dictate which parts of the Bible can and can’t be preached.”
Overd was defended in the case by the chief executive of the Christian Legal Center — Andrea Williams. She said in a statement on the case:
“It’s clear from the evidence that he (Overd) has consistently dealt with people’s objections in a balanced an reasonable way. He has explained his beliefs. He hasn’t been aggressive or targeted anyone in particular. The evidence bears all this out.”