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Street preacher takes legal action after claiming he was threatened with arrest

Jessica Geen August 17, 2009
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A street preacher who read out anti-gay Bible passages in Manchester city centre has accused police of abusing their powers.

Miguel Hayworth, 29, and his father John, 55, were reading out Bible passages and handing out leaflets on Saturday July 25th at St Ann’s Square in Manchester, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The passages read by Hayworth are frequently used by anti-gay campaigners.

He read Romans Chapter 1 Verse 27, from the King James Bible, which says: “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly…”

Another passage used by Hayworth was 1 Corinthians Chapter 6, Verse 9: “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind.”

After members of the public made complaints that he and his father were being homophobic and racist, Hayworth was stopped by one plainclothes and two uniformed police officers who allegedly told him it was illegal to hand out leaflets and preach as this was harassment and could lead to arrest.

Around an hour later, Hayworth said he was approached by another police officer who again warned him he could be arrested and said he was being videotaped.

Hayworth has said he does not know where the accusation of racism came from.

The pair say they then stopped preaching. They are now being represented by the Christian Legal Centre which has engaged religious rights barrister Paul Diamond.

Diamond and the Christian Legal Centre believe police abused their powers.

Chief Inspector Chris Hill, of Greater Manchester Police, said no one was arrested and officers told the pair they were entitled to preach on the street.

He said: “Police were called to St Ann’s Square in Manchester city centre following complaints from members of the public who considered the comments being made by two street preachers as racist and homophobic.

“When spoken to, the men said they were quoting from the Bible. The officers confirmed they were entitled to preach on the street, but advised them offensive behaviour is not acceptable.

“No one was arrested. I have received a letter from the Christian Legal Centre and will respond in due course.”

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