Harassing the soul

“A street preacher in my constituency was told by the police that he could preach the Gospel but that it was harassment to warn people that they might go to hell if they did not repent!”

(Hat Tip Anthony Barrett OK Blog)


    Great news, I’m tired of being shouted at by loons as I go about my daily business, it’s about time they were told how offensive their rants were to non believers.
    If you want to preach, do it in private.

  • Surely, from 26 May, such misrepresentation could be covered by the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.

    And, until I read that report, I never would have guessed that spiritualists had a trade union. That really is bizarre.

  • percy

    Wonderful news, I recall as a student at Canterbury stopping a street-board preacher who had a sign saying “God speaks to men”.
    I said to him: “Does that include women?”
    He roared back on the top of his voice
    “God’s for people like you, because you’re on your way to Hell”
    I’m still laughing 20 yrs on…

  • Rory

    I must say that although I have often been greatly entertained by street preachers warning me of the dangers of (and indeed sometimes condemning me to) hellfire I have never felt harassed as a result. This news, if true (and a caveat is prudent with all such apocrphya) would concern me most because I would see it as an attack on street theatre.

    I do find myself however under constant harassment from warnings that smoking is bad for me or that, despite the best advice of all good chefs, “lean meat” is best, or that a product may have been exposed to the sight of a peanut and that I may die horribly if I eat it.

    None of these warnings however also carry a promise that if I abstain I will live forever whereas at least the street preacher assures me that if I do repent I will go to heaven.

    The street preacher you might say gives his consumer a choice where added value is on the menu and that strikes me at least as being absolutely within the spirit of the times and should be encouraged.

  • willis

    “A street preacher in my constituency was told by the police that he could preach the Gospel but that it was harassment to warn people that they might go to hell if they did not repent!”

    Might go to Hell!

    What sort of lily-livered, pinko, liberal, sandal wearing, Guardian reading, lentil eating, etc etc, street preacher warns people that they might go to Hell?

  • I like to think I retain a dim memory of a younger, more fiery Ian Paisley, in the pride of his youth, being interviewed by RTÉ.

    He was asked why his new Free Presbyterian Church was different to other Presbyterians. Paisley’s definition went something like: “They believe you’re predastined to be domned. But we believe ye’ll be domned on yer merits!”

    Even if that’s not true, I can believe it if I want to.

  • Eireannach Saolta

    I don’t mind these guys doing their raving (preaching) but I find it annoying when they turn their speakers on full blast so the whole town has to listen to their rants. Still it is comical seeing them make fools of themselves

  • ulsterfan

    If a prosecution ever took place the evidence introduced by prosecutor and defence would be very interesting. Men have gone to the stake for insisting on the right to speak.
    Agree that loudspeakers should be banned.

  • The EU has no mention of Europe’s Christian heritage in its Constitution. Even if hell did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it to put the enablers there. After all, hell is not hot enough nor eternity long enough for them.
    The original idea of hell is as a form of correction. And eternity is not long enough to turn Ireland’s enablers into anything but the disgraces for humanity and God’s image that they are. Hell exists. Justice delayed is not justice denied. So get ready to crackle.

  • ulsterfan @ 06:43 PM:

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, 1919:

    The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic.

    I have just had my quiet Sunday disturbed by the massed whine of North London’s lawn-mowers, my nostrils disgusted by the singed meat wafted from barbecues. Had my relaxing zzz been further interrupted by a prancing, ranting loony (Christian, Green, fascist, whoever) I hope the mercy of the Court would extend to accepting my plea of justifiable homicide.

  • Greenflag

    ‘So get ready to crackle. ‘

    I think you meant cackle .

    On the subject of these mostly harmless nutters surely given what appears to be a surfeit of the breed in NI could Belfast City Council not designate a certain corner of a City Park where the aformentioned men of doom /repentance and salvation with a little eternal kindling thrown in could be allowed to gather a la Hyde Park . Could even be a tourist attraction .

    willis ,

    ‘What sort of lily-livered, pinko, liberal, sandal wearing, Guardian reading, lentil eating, etc etc, street preacher warns people that they might go to Hell? ‘

    LOL 🙂 Now the Jesuits were much more decisive . No conditional tense at all at all -You will go to hell they said to a pre teen and still scared GF if you continue to abuse your body in that manner said one Reverend- and you’ll also go blind added another 🙂

    Rory ,

    ‘The street preacher you might say gives his consumer a choice where added value is on the menu’

    LOL- reminds me of the shower of Dublin sinners gathered at the back of the chapel during a retreat getting ready to scarper as soon as the preacher turned his back for the final blessing -only to be rooted to the spot when said preacher came down from the altar and marched boldly in front of those gathered just inside the door.

    ‘Do ye men want to go to heaven or hell ‘ shouted the preacher .

    Silence .

    Again the preacher shouted the same question

    Silence with a few steps of unease and mutterings .

    ‘Answer me now you sinners and seek repentance -is it heaven or hell ‘ shouted the preacher

    A few muttered ‘heaven’ ‘heaven’ except one young man who had almost edged out the door . The Preacher stormed over to him and again demanded he answer the question ‘

    ‘Well I’m not sure Father ‘ said he

    ‘What do you mean not sure’ ?

    ‘Well I don’t want to go right now Father if it’s all right with you cos me girlfriend is waitin for me to take her to the pictures and I would’nt want to upset her ‘ said he .

  • Dave

    [i]”Freedom under law requires freedom of thought and expression. Our country has defined itself for many generations as a place where freedom of expression, philosophical and religious, could be practiced and, indeed, the whole trend in our history for two hundred years is the gradual removal of the fetters of censorship on people’s views and, to a great extent, their behaviour, subject to the protection of others under our criminal law.

    But now forces are pulling in the opposite direction. We are being told that the price of diversity must be restrictions on freedom. As we saw with the Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill and later, with the Equality Act legislation and the Sexual Orientation Regulations debate which followed from it, the trend is now to restrict freedom of thought, expression and the rights of individual conscience in the hope of achieving a greater equality and tolerance of difference across our country. A street preacher in my constituency was told by the police that he could preach the Gospel but that it was harassment to warn people that they might go to hell if they did not repent!

    This runs entirely counter to what England’s historical experience of living with divergent ethical, political and religious views has given to Britishness. The development of our country into a liberal democracy was not achieved through repression, although it was at times tried. It came principally through the growth of tolerance based on Christian principles and their interplay with Classical Greek humanism. Anglican Christianity in particular is as defining of the English character as it has been important to developing Britishness.

    Firstly, as the Archbishop of York so rightly said in his recent Easter sermon “Our identity as a nation owes more to our Christian heritage than many care to admit. Writing in the 8th century, the Venerable Bede, “the father of English history”, wrote not only of how the English were converted, but how the Gospel played a major socialising and civilizing role in this country by uniting the English from a group of warring tribes and conferring nationhood upon them.” – Dominic Grieve QC MP[/i]

    The preacher would have to cause “a reasonable person… to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against him” and “if he knows or ought to know that his course of conduct will cause the other so to fear on each of those occasions” before he is deemed to have committed an offence under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Unless the preacher specifically addresses that the same person on those occasions, and it is reasonable to believe that the preacher is the official proxy of his g-d’s wrath, then no offence occurs. Also, no offence of harassment occurs if “it was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime.” Which, presumably, is the intent of the preacher in demanding repentance and compliance with his g-d’s moral code.

    Whatever about the actual legality of the anecdote about the policeman and the preacher, Dominic Grieve points out how the vagaries of multiculturalism are used to engineer the destruction of the English nation state by those whose agenda is, paradoxically, to impose cultural uniformity by advocating heterogeneity. How does homogeneity translate as heterogeneity? It does so by censoring the nation state, attempting to separate the nation from the state, promoting the culture-neutral state and relegating the nation to oblivion.

    The founding legitimacy of the State under Article 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is a nation state (a sovereign territorial entity for a culturally distinct group of people [the nation] to live according to their own values and customs): there is no legitimacy for the foundation of a State (sans a nation) under international law. So, in order to promote the EU enterprise, the EU seeks to destroy the indigenous peoples of its member nation states by mixing all peoples into one people (promoting free movement of peoples within its borders), creating this homogeneity by engineering a mean average of heterogeneity. In short, if the entire EU has a uniform mix of cultures, then this multiculturalism becomes the new basis of the EU nation state. It is no longer an alliance of disparate nations comprised of their distinct cultures, etc, but an entity that is culturally homogenised with this homogeneity forming the basis for the new ‘nation’ state. And, indeed, if all the peoples of the EU become the same, then why bother with a plethora of nation states? There is then no valid objection to the transfer of sovereignty to the new super state. The basis of the new nation state of the EU becomes its nationalism, as opposed to its culturally distinct group of peoples. Multiculturalism is being cynically used to engineer this outcome.

  • Dave


    The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, pointed out in relation to how England moved from being “a group of warring tribes” that the common denominator of Christianity was most responsible for “conferring nationhood upon them.” It only takes a common cause to form the basis of an emergent nation state. This common cause is what the engineers of the EU superstate are hoping will emerge to unite the new Europeans as a common people post integration. That’s possible – especially if they engineer a lovely war as the common cause – but I think that nation states are far too ingrained within the EU to remove them, even if they manage to erase the basis for them by (culturally distinct groups of peoples) by imposing a uniform culture and a mix of ethnic groups within them.

    As Grieve observes in the English context, multiculturalism is a tool to censor the indigenous culture of the nation state, seeking to subvert the legitimacy of that nation state. It’s just a bigger game than he observes. Also, in relation to Britishness – that is where others learned the trick of how to make nation states subservient to the shared alliance – or, rather, the imperial agenda. It’s somewhat ironic that he lauds both England and Great Britain without seeing that the BG/UK enterprise led to much of the cultural censorship that he now complains about.

  • This is just another example of our new equality laws being used oppressively against evangelical Christians.

  • chauncy

    Might advertising also be construed as harassment? If the principles applied by the policeman could be applied more broadly, then I could see a positive consistency..Otherwise I would be inclined to agree with Watchman, that it’s an impingement of free speech.

    On the other hand, I was always angered by the posters of aborted foetuses waved during the constitutional amendment campaigns..They served their purpose in making me feel guilty, but they dishonoured the memory of those small people they purported to remind us of, by depersonalising them.

    Not sure…


    Might advertising also be construed as harassment?

    It is not uncommon for offensive advertisements to be censured.

  • willis

    Let’s be honest here.

    According to the Gospels Jesus was followed around by large crowds because they wanted to hear what he said.

    If the street preachers could attract people with their message they wouldn’t need to go with the threats.

  • Joe

    This is just another example of our new equality laws being used oppressively against evangelical Christians

    You misspelt “applied equally to all sections of society regardless of religion”.

  • Rory

    I am sorry, Willis, but I must disagree with your view that “If the street preachers could attract people with their message they wouldn’t need to go with the threats”. It is precisely because of the threats that hell-bound people like me find them so attractive. They are certainly preferable to the two American young men who approached me today in St Albans expalining politely that they represented the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – you couldn’t make it up, except I suppose that is just what they did – and inviting my interest.

    “Ah”, says I, “the spiritual branch of US imperialism. You’ll only be wasting time with me, a cradle Irish Catholic in his seventh decade and a dedicated Marxist to boot. Have a try with the missus – she’s not only English but a renegade from the Plymouth Brethern, you might have more luck there”.

    “Oh, fuck you Mormons and Milt Romney too!”, responds the usually icily polite Herself before turning to me and asking, “Drink, darling?”

    My response to that suggestion need not be recorded here.

  • I’m firmly alongside Rory @ 03:23 PM. here. Any conversation, without formal introduction, which starts with “Have you welcomed Jesus as your personal saviour?” should be actionable as harassment, or waylaying and besetting.

    There used to be — there may still be — a singularly disreputable hoyden who frequented the North London railway system doing just that. Not what I needed after a hard day at the chalk-face.

    As for the the spiritual branch of US imperialism, that used to be the peculiar of the Billy Graham mob.

    Back in the late ’60s, when Vietnam was top of any decent liberal’s agenda, the Graham caravan hoved up in West London. We took our way there to point out the error of their ways.

    In the course of this encounter, a disagreement broke out over the issue of — yes — creation. A good Northern Irish guy, whom we shall refer to as “Ken” (for such was his name), responded that the best argument for Darwinism was for the Grahamite to look in the mirror.

    The consequence was Ken, half way up a lamp-post bellowing in broadest Ulster: “Here’s a Christian wants to hit me!”


    I have no problems with anyone who politely asks before assailing one with dire warnings of impending doom if one doesn’t mend their ways.
    However, when I politely refuse, they should let it go and move on.
    I remember once walking through Cornmarket in Belfast when someone asked if I was saved, I told him I wasn’t interested, but as I passed him he thrust a gospel tract into my pocket and said “well read that anyway”

    It was there my politeness ended, I screwed up his gospel tract, threw it at him, told him to stuff it up his arse and issued a stern warning as to what would happen if he ever assaulted me again.

  • Rory

    Of course we could always counter these guys by setting up our our own little stalls in the market place to declaim the Darwinian theory and have that thrill of knowing satisfaction when some declined our gifts by shouting:

    “You’re doomed to spend the miserable eternity of next Sunday in church!”

  • Oranges for Sale


  • Oranges for Sale


    I really think you should really lighten up, methinks you use the word ‘assaulted’ a little too strongly.

    Save your temper for all those Romany beggars/big issue salesmen and general charity chuggers in the Cornmarket, their the real source of harassment.

  • Garibaldy

    Aren;t the moonies another spiritual branch of US imperialism, as well as financial?

  • Animus

    I mind them coming to the door more than I mind them in the street, but I don’t like the shouting hell fire any more than I like anyone else drunk/mentally ill shouting in the street. But arresting them will only increase their persecution complex so possibly not the best thing to do. I usually politely tell them to keep their propaganda (it is more polite than taking a tract and ripping it to pieces before their very eyes) but the other half prefers me to walk by and say nothing.

  • Rory

    One way to deal with the problem of importunate preachers in Northern Ireland (and which might be culturally apposite) would be to combine the native love of bonfires with the preachers’ yearning for martyrdom.

    “Crackin’!” combined with crackling – yu cuddint bate it!


    Oranges for sale.

    I consider anyone putting their hands on my person uninvited to be assaulting me, and I think the law would take a similar view.

    Beggars and chuggers I treat the same way as I treat the evangelists, they get a polite refusal if they make a polite offer (Though I do have a soft spot for homeless drunks, a few coins to relieve the misery does no harm).

  • Oranges for Sale


    Fair enough!

  • Greenflag


    ‘My response to that suggestion need not be recorded here.’

    ‘Is the Pope a Catholic ‘ ? perhaps 🙂

  • joeCanuck

    I do have a soft spot for homeless drunks, a few coins to relieve the misery does no harm

    Totally agree with that. I never begrudge a homeless street person a few dollars because they might spend it on booze or cigarettes. They have a horrible existence and , whatever helps get through the daily misery is ok with me..