Christians have expressed their concern over the arrest of a street pastor in north-west London last week over his comments on marriage and gender.
Pastor John Sherwood was arrested in the centre of Uxbridge on Friday and detained overnight, according to an account by his colleague Peter Simpson on the Conservative Women blog.
Simpson said Sherwood expounded the final verses of Genesis 1 on the creation of humans as male and female, and told members of the public that God’s design for families was for them to be headed by a mother and father.
In shocking video footage posted to YouTube, officers can be seen arresting Sherwood, 71, on suspicion of an offence under Section 5 of the Public Order Act. The officers also took away his Bible.
According to Simpson, police arrested Sherwood after receiving three complaints over the content of his preaching, and told him that he was causing “alarm and distress” to members of the public.
When he was approached by officers, Sherwood denied any wrongdoing and said he was exercising his freedom of speech.
In the video, onlookers can be heard expressing their shock over his arrest, which was described by campaign group Christian Concern as “brutal”.
The Metropolitan Police said officers on patrol had been flagged down by a member of the public “who made them aware of a man allegedly making homophobic comments” close to Uxbridge Underground Station.
“A number of other people also approached the officers with concerns about the man’s language,” it said.
The Met added that a file has been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service for review and consideration, and that its Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) had assessed the footage and “found no indication of misconduct”.
“The arrest will not be subject to a full DPS review,” it said.
Simpson expressed dismay over his colleague’s arrest, which he called an assault on free speech.
“This arrest of a faithful minister for doing nothing other than declaring what the Bible teaches about one of the important moral issues of our time reveals a dangerous assault upon freedom of speech and, not least, upon the freedom of Christian pastors to declare in public all that the Bible teaches,” he said.
“The State has no right to designate that some parts of God’s word are no-go areas.
“Whatever one’s personal views on homosexuality might be, it is surely pertinent to ask what kind of nation have we become that the minister of a Christian church is arrested for upholding in the public square the very truths which Her Majesty the Queen promised to uphold in her Coronation Oath in 1953, with a Bible in her hand?”