Monday, 13 February 2017

A Bloody Prelate Makes a Comeback

An Ancient Curse Shows Signs of Life

We have seen a growing number of cases in the United Kingdom where Christians are being silenced for proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and His holy Word in public.  We are seeing the first signs of a recrudescence of the Star Chamber.

For those not aware of the Star Chamber, it is clothed with infamy.  An historical summary of that English court is as follows:
The importance of the Star Chamber increased during the reigns of James I (1603–25) and Charles I (1625–49). Under Archbishop William Laud, the court became a tool of royal oppression, seeking out and punishing religious and political dissidents. In the 1630s Laud used the Star Chamber to persecute a group of Puritan leaders, most of whom came from the gentry, subjecting them to the pillory and Corporal Punishment. Though the Star Chamber could not mete out Capital Punishment, it inflicted everything short of death upon those found guilty. During this time the court met in secret, extracting evidence by torturing witnesses and handing out punishments that included mutilation, life imprisonment, and enormous fines. It turned equity's traditionally broad discretion into a complete disregard for the law.  [Legal Dictionary]
Not for a moment do we mean to suggest that the UK has embarked on torturing witnesses and mutilating those judged to be guilty.  Rather, the link back to the Star Chamber comes with the increasing public and official persecution of Christians in the UK.

We recently read of a case where a man was arrested and accused with hate speech for speaking publicly about the Christian faith.  Such cases are not infrequent.  Thankfully, many of them are being tossed out by the courts.  But the application and militancy of the police has distinct echoes of the Star Chamber.  A report on the case reads as follows:
A Christian street preacher was locked up and charged with a hate crime for quoting from the Book of Genesis in response to a gay teenager’s questions on how God views homosexuals.  Gordon Larmour, 42, spent a night in custody and faced a six-month ordeal over the charges before they were finally thrown out in a hearing last month.

The father-of-one, who has been street preaching for seven years following his conversion to Christianity, was handing out leaflets in his home town of Irvine, Ayrshire, last June when a group of young men passed him, The Telegraph has reported.  He told the men: “Don’t forget Jesus loves you and He died for your sins.”  One asked Mr. Larmour, “What does your God say about homosexuals?” He responded by referring to the Book of Genesis, stating that God had created Adam and Eve to produce children.

The two men argued and Mr. Larmour claims that he was chased by the young man. However, it was he who was arrested and frogmarched to the police van before being held in police custody overnight, charged with threatening or abusive behaviour aggravated by prejudice relating to sexual orientation.  “I think the police should have handled it differently and listened to what I had to say. They should have calmed the boy down and left it at that,” Mr. Larmour told the Scottish Herald on Sunday.

He added: “In court the boy’s friend told the truth – that I hadn’t assaulted him or called him homophobic names. I had simply answered his question and told him about Adam and Eve and Heaven and Hell. Preaching from the Bible is not a crime.”

At Kilmarnock Sheriff Court last month, Sheriff Alistair Watson agreed, acquitting Mr. Larmour of the charge. He also found him not guilty of a second charge of assault aggravated by prejudice relating to sexual orientation.  Mr. Larmour said: “I can’t see why I was arrested in the first place – it was a massive overreaction and a waste of everyone’s time. The police didn’t listen to me. They took the young homosexual guy’s side straight away and read me my rights.

“I feel they try so hard to appear like they are protecting minorities, they go too far the other way. I want to be able to tell people the good word of the Gospel and think I should be free to do so. I wasn’t speaking my opinions – I was quoting from the Bible.”  Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “It is a great relief that the judge ruled in favour of Gordon, because the case simply did not stand up to scrutiny.”  [Donna Rachel Edmunds, Breitbart London]
"It's a minor matter," some may retort.  "A long way from the unjust ravages of the Star Chamber."  Fair enough, but in human society few things happen in a vacuum.  The great stakes in the ground protecting liberty of conscience and freedom of speech were hammered into English law in reaction to the depredations of the Stuart monarchs and the Star Chamber.  Now, it seems, at least in some quarters of the current regime, those stakes are being shortened by official chainsaws.

The prosecution of Christian "hate speech" is itself hateful.  The only one smiling in his grave would be Archbishop Laud.

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