A United Kingdom judge reportedly chastised a street preacher for using the wrong Bible verse during a debate about homosexuality last year, finding him guilty of a public order offense and ordering him to pay a fine.
District Judge Shamim Ahmed Qureshi told Michael Overd, a preacher who regularly offers up biblical sentiment on the streets of the English town of Taunton, "that he should not have referred to Leviticus chapter 20 but should instead have used chapter 18 ... to make his point about homosexuality," according to the Christian Legal Centre, the firm representing Overd.
Qureshi reportedly told Overd, who has been known to preach using a loudspeaker, that it was inappropriate for him to cite Leviticus 20:13 during his debate last summer with a gay man, as it pertains to the death penalty, and that he should have instead used Leviticus 18:22.
Free from the dock, Michael Overd is now preaching outside the court about homosexuality. pic.twitter.com/0Xet8qOUYQ— Caron Bell (@CaronBellITV)March 23, 2015
"I am amazed that the judge sees it as his role to dictate which parts of the Bible can and can't be preached. I did not quote the full text of Leviticus 20 or make reference to the death penalty but the judge is telling me that I should use other parts of the Bible," Overd said in a statement."This is not free speech but censorship.The judge is redacting the Bible."
He was found guilty under section five of the Public Order Act, a law that deals with causing distress or harassment by using abusive language or insulting behavior, Christian Today reported.
The judge also said that Overd doesn't seem to have any "scholarly approach" to controversial topics, preaching, instead, "whatever little he had learnt, regardless of being rude or bullying to others."
Overd said after the trial that he has no plans to tone down his messaging, the BBC reported.
The case centered around an incident in which Overd said that he clashed with a man who approached him "aggressively demanding to debate the issue" last summer.
Here's how SWNS recapped what unfolded:
Loud-mouthed Michael Overd, 50, clashed with Darren Chambers as he spouted his controversial Christian beliefs through a microphone in a town centre. Mr Chambers questioned his stance on homosexuality and Overd told him he was 'a sinner' who needed to repent. He quoted from the Bible and loudly told Mr Chambers that 'God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve'.
The court fined Overd £200 ($218.41) and an additional f £1,200 ($1,310.44) in what the Christian Legal Centre said are "costs and compensation."
He was cleared of two other charges, including one accusing him of racially aggravated harassment of Muslims, the BBC reported.
Overd has received some support from some unlikely individuals, including the National Secular Society, a British group that espouses secularism and the separation of church and state.
Despite calling Overd "obnoxious" and disagreeing with his viewpoint, the organization has come out in support of his free speech rights.
See him deliver a passionate sermon below:
"It seems almost futile to repeat this mantra, again, but I will add my voice to the chorus: you do not have a right to not be offended," the Benjamin Jones, the group's communications director. "This applies just as uncompromisingly if you are a Muslim upset about cartoons of Muhammad, or a gay person distressed by a street preacher claiming that your love life is 'sinful.'"
He continued, "We must be completely unambiguous and unrelenting in our defence of free speech: up to the point of defamation of living people, or incitement to violence, anything goes."