Section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act says a person is guilty of an offence if he:
(a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or
(b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.
This Act has been used against Christians on quite a few occasions, most recently in the case of Jamie Murray, owner of the Salt & Light Coffee House.
This was a truly bizarre incident in which the displaying of Scripture on a video screen prompted a police visit following a complaint. The police notified Murray that he was displaying offensive or insulting words which breached Section 5 of the Public Order Act; in other words, the Biblical texts contravened the act.
The Christian Institute have been long campaigning for the removal of the word ”insulting” from the act, and it’s interesting to note today the National Secular Society announce their intention to pressure for reform of this act, alongside The Christian Institute, the Peter Tatchell Foundation, and others.
The campaign will officially launch at the House of Commons today.
This act must be reformed to remove the word “insulting” which is so ridiculously subjective, ambiguous and arbitrary, over-zealous police may be deployed by folk against anyone they feel may have so much as slighted them.
Christians should support this reform if we wish to continue our freedom to express our faith in such ‘sensitive’ times.