Preacher Arrested in London

One of the main reasons that I have opposed same sex marriage is that I am certain that it is only a matter of time before churches are compelled to perform such marriages, in defiance of their teachings and doctrine. If you believe that I am raising an unlikely possibility, all I can say is that the activists who favor gay marriage and other items on the radical homosexual agenda have not proved to be very tolerant of opposing viewpoints. Consider the example of the American preacher who was arrested in London for daring to state that homosexuality is a sin.

An American evangelist said he was arrested and interrogated about his Christian faith after he was caught on a London sidewalk preaching that homosexuality is a sin.

Tony Miano, a retired deputy sheriff and former chaplain with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept., was charged with “using homophobic speech that could cause people anxiety, distress, alarm or insult.”

Miano had been preaching on a London street corner during the Wimbledon Tennis Championships with a ministry group called Sports Fan Outreach International.

He was preaching about immoral living – and cited homosexuality as an example of lifestyle choices that are contrary to biblical teaching.

“I never used any gay slurs,” he said. “You would never hear me using slang or discriminatory language against homosexuals or any other group. That would be contrary to my faith.”

At some point, the evangelist quoted I Thessalonians 4:1-2 – a passage of scripture that mentions sexual immorality.

“I talked about women addicted to romance novels, men addicted to pornography, people with lustful thoughts, heterosexual fornication and homosexuality,” Miano told Fox News. “When I mentioned that the Bible was clear that homosexuality is a sin, a lady walked by and she glared at me and hurled the f-bomb.”

Of course she did. People on the Left are not much for reasoned discourse. They prefer insults and censorship.

Miano said the woman came back a short time later and began to videotape his sidewalk sermon. Then, she called the police.

“They were concerned about homophobic speech,” he said. “But I told them I don’t fear homosexuals. The language I used was not homophobic, as I was not promoting fear or hatred of homosexuals.”

Miano said he did not limit his remarks to homosexual acts.

“I did not speak solely about homosexuality as a form of sexual immorality but also about any kind of sex outside marriage between one man and one woman, as well as lustful thoughts,” he said. “All of these are considered mainstream Christian positions and have been taught and believed by Christians for thousands of years.”

The fact that he was preaching positions held by Christians for the last two thousand years is irrelevant, as is the fact that he did not mean to be hateful. Any opposition to the gay lifestyle is hateful and bigoted and must be punished.

“I was made to feel that my thoughts could be held against me,” he said. “The detective also asked me if I thought I was 100 percent right in what I had done. I said yes.”

Miano said he would gladly offer assistance to a homosexual.

“The Christian faith is dictated by the two greatest commandments – to love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor,” he said. “As such, I am compelled to love all people. Had a gay come up and asked me for something to eat, I would have fed him.”

But what troubled Miano is the idea that a hypothetical situation could have been used against him in court.

“I was actually going to be tried for how I thought,” he said.

In an ironic twist, the officers made arrangements to provide the evangelist with a Bible to read in jail – the same book that led to his arrest.

“The same book I read from in public which resulted in my arrest, was now the same book the police were giving to provide me comfort,” he said.

Miano, who is a member of the Evangelical Free Church, has been open-air preaching for eight years. He said this is the first time he’s been arrested.

“It was a rather surreal experience,” the retired deputy sheriff said. “I’ve conducted many interrogations but I’ve never been the subject of one.”

Miano spent about seven hours in jail before he was released without explanation and without an apology.

Now back home in Southern California, Miano said he fears that what happened in Great Britain could soon happen in the United States.

“I believe that’s what our government is going to eventually do here,” he said. “I believe homosexuals or others who are sensitive to their point of view will be visiting churches to listen to what preachers say from the pulpit. And I believe that pastors will be arrested in their pulpits for teaching what the Bible says about homosexuality and other sins.”

Perhaps the first amendment would prevent such an outrage here in America. Maybe not. Freedom of religion would seem to include the freedom of a religious body to decide for itself would constitute sinful conduct, yet we have also seen that the activists care little about such freedom. It may be possible that the recent decision on DOMA by the Supreme Court could be used to justify harassing dissenting churches. Hadley Arkes from National Review Online commented on the day the decision was announced,

These decisions, handed down by the Court today, affect to be limited in their reach, but they are even worse than they appear, and they cannot be cabined. They lay down the predicates for litigation that will clearly unfold now, and with short steps sure to come, virtually all of the barriers to same-sex marriage in this country can be swept away. Even constitutional amendments, passed by so many of the states, can be overridden now. The engine put in place to power this drive is supplied by Justice Kennedy’s “hate speech,” offering itself as the opinion of the Court in U.S. v. Windsor. Kennedy wrote for the Court in striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the part of the act that recognized as “marriage,” in federal law, only the union of a man and woman. In Kennedy’s translation, the Defense of Marriage Act showed its animus in its very title: The defense of marriage was simply another way of disparaging and “denigrating” gays and lesbians, and denying dignity to their “relationships.” As Justice Scalia noted so tellingly in his dissent, Kennedy could characterize then as bigots the 85 senators who voted for the Act, along with the president (Clinton) who signed it. Every plausible account of marriage as a relation of a man and woman can then be swept away, as so much cover for malice and blind hatred.

As Scalia suggested, that opinion can now become the predicate for challenges to the laws on marriage in all of the States. A couple of the same sex need merely go into a federal court and invoke Justice Kennedy’s opinion in the DOMA case (U.S. v. Windsor): The Supreme Court has declared now that a law that refuses to recognize same-sex marriage is animated by a passion to demean and denigrate. Any such law cannot find a rational ground of justification. As Kennedy had famously said in Romer v. Evans, those kinds of laws can be explained only in terms of an irrational “animus.”

Read the part I put in bold. Arkes is only referring to the fact that any state law restricting marriage to a man and a woman can now be overturned, but consider the wider implication here. If the belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman is not a sincerely held religious belief but animated by malice and blind hatred and is an irrational animus, then wouldn’t it be acceptable to use the law to force churches to comply with same-sex marriage. Wouldn’t preaching against homosexuality be hate speech, to be discouraged and even forbidden. This may seem like overreaching, but I fully expect some sort of effort along these lines in the next couple of years.

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