A71-year-old pastor from a North West London church was arrested and detained overnight recently for sermonizing about what the Bible says about marriage being between a man and a woman and was accused of making "homophobic comments."
Pastor John Sherwood was arrested on April 23 after speaking on the final verses in the Bible book of Genesis 1, where it says that God created mankind in his own image, creating them male and female, Christian Concern said.
Sherwood was held under the United Kingdom's Public Order Act for allegedly making "homophobic comments" during a public sermon, video shows.
At least one United Kingdom-based group, Christian Concern, which defends people of faith, described the incident as a "brutal arrest" that sets a bad precedent for religious freedom of speech throughout the country, Newsweek reported.
"After speaking on the final verses in Genesis 1, where it says that God created mankind in his own image, creating them male and female, a number of police officers appeared on the scene," Christian Concern reported.
"Reportedly, three complaints had been received about the pastor's teaching, and the police accused him of causing 'alarm and distress' to the public.
"What quickly followed was a brutal arrest, where an officer took away the pastor's Bible and pulled him from the steps where he had been preaching. Three officers gathered around him to handcuff him and take him away."
After speaking to the police, Sherwood resumed his preaching, speaking on freedom of speech.
However, a couple of bystanders in the crowd apparently shouted that John's preaching was "homophobic" and "hate speech."
"I was preaching from the Holy Bible from Genesis Chapter 1," Sherwood noted, Newsweek reported.
"About God creating man in his image, being male and female...I was talking about the husband and wife relationship and children, and the beauty of the family. And it was construed by some as being homophobic even though I never mentioned anything about homosexuals."
But local police said they'd received numerous complaints that Sherwood had been making bigoted remarks directed toward gay people, which the anonymous caller described as abusive or insulting words.
A representative for Christian Concern told a U.K. news outlet last week:
"There is an idea that if people are offended, you should arrest someone, but in this country, we also have freedom of speech...But everything he said was Bible-based. He was not saying anything abusive."
The Conservative Woman website commented after the incident, "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. The State has no right to designate that some parts of God's word are no-go areas."