A street preacher in London had a case against him thrown out for evangelizing on Good Friday last year.
Joshua Sutcliffe, 31, along with a socially distanced friend, was preaching and handing out leaflets in Camden, North London, on April 10, 2020, when they were stopped by police, according to Christian Concern.
“I was surrounded by four police officers, which was very intimidating. They treated me like a second-class citizen,” Sutcliffe said. “I am a Christian minister of the gospel, which not so long ago was a treasured and respected vocation in the UK.”
He was detained and given a fine of £60, but after being represented by Christian Legal Centre on July 6 at the City of London Magistrates, Sutcliffe had all charges dropped.
The street preacher told the court he was on his way home from evangelizing when he handed his shoes to a homeless man, which he would not have been able to do online.
Handing down judgment, the magistrate said: “We find the defendant not guilty on all charges. We find that the defendant was outside and that he had a reasonable excuse as he was travelling to his place of work, as a worship leader.
“Whilst he was in a gathering and therefore in breach of regulation 7, however, the parties were together and were allowed to rely on articles 9, 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Their gathering was limited in duration, and they were entitled to gather for street evangelising.”
Sutcliffe said he is glad reason and justice prevailed.
“During times of need, people need the hope of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is what I do on a regular basis,” he said. “I go to the streets and proclaim the hope and truth of the resurrection of Christ. I was doing this on Good Friday, one of the most important days in the Christian calendar to do this.”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, celebrated the individual case, but is worried about the bigger picture.
“We are seeing a lot of inconsistencies from police and the judiciary in these cases,” Wiliams said. “Christians have been easy targets for police during the pandemic while other groups gathering in significant numbers have been favored by the police.”