because it breaches public order laws. Officers attended the Salt & Light Coffee House on Layton Road, Blackpool, on Monday 19 September, following a complaint about “insulting” and “homophobic” material.
The café’s owner, Mr Jamie Murray, says the officers did not specify which Bible texts had caused the offence. He says the officers told him that displaying offensive or insulting words is a breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act, and told him to stop displaying the Bible.
The Bible texts are displayed on a TV screen at the back of the café. Mr Murray uses a set of DVDs called the Watchword Bible. The DVDs cycle through the whole of the New Testament verse by verse, with the words appearing on the screen. Mr Murray mutes the audio. He told the police officers he would agree to stop displaying the Bible verses while he sought legal advice. After speaking with a lawyer, he is once again displaying the material.
The café’s name, Salt & Light, is a quote from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Christian leaflets are available in the café, and it has links with a local church...
Mr Murray said: “I couldn’t believe the police were saying I can’t display the Bible. The officers were not very polite, in fact they were quite aggressive. It felt like an interrogation. I said ‘surely it isn’t a crime to show the Bible?’ But they said they had checked with their sergeant and insulting words are a breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act. I was shocked."
“I’m not here to insult or offend anyone, but the Bible is the Bible. We’re always being told that we’re a tolerant and diverse nation. Yet the very thing that gave us those values – Christianity – is being sidelined. I’m not looking to make a name for myself, I’d rather be quietly getting on with running my café. But there comes a time when you have to say enough is enough.”
The Christian Institute’s Head of Communications, Mike Judge, said: “We’ve all seen the police stand by while extremist Muslims hold placards calling for infidels to be beheaded, but woe betides a Christian café displaying Bible texts.
“Yes, the Bible speaks about morality, of course it does. But the Bible isn’t hate speech. Disagreement isn’t hatred. If a café customer dislikes parts of the Bible, the right response is to take their custom elsewhere – not dial 999. Will Lancashire Constabulary be publishing a police-approved Bible? Perhaps they could call it the PC-PC version. Haven’t they heard of free speech or religious liberty?”...