Evangelical Christian Cleared Of Abusing Gay ‘Sinners’

Michael Overd

Michael Overd

An evangelical Christian street preacher has been cleared of verbally abusing a gay couple while preaching about the sins of homosexuality.
Michael Overd was accused of loudly telling Craig Manning and his civil partner Craig Nichol they were “sinners” who were going to “burn in hell” as they walked past him on a busy Saturday afternoon in a pedestrianised area full of people.
The couple claimed he deliberately targeted them after a previous altercation with them in 2010 when they walked past him holding hands led to him being spoken to by police.
But the 47-year-old born-again Christian and former paratrooper denied abusing them, arguing that he was using his freedom of speech to air his beliefs in the centre of Taunton, Somerset, when he told the pair: “Even these two dear men whom I have met before, caught in the sin of homosexuality, can have the forgiveness of the sin, should they so repent.”
The lay preacher claimed the couple threatened violence against him when they saw him on July 16 last year. Overd, of Creech St Michael in Somerset, was cleared at Taunton Magistrates’ Court today of two charges of using threatening words or behaviour against the couple.
Speaking after the end of the trial, Mr Overd said “something is wrong” when “Abu Qatada can preach about Jihad and death to the Jews but the police arrest me, a Christian preacher who cares deeply for Jesus Christ and the people of Taunton”.
“This is a case that should never have been brought. Christians like me are being harassed,” he said.
“Thankfully, the magistrates saw the truth of what happened and is happening on a wider scale in out country.
“Something has to change and I hope my case will encourage others not to be scared to speak up for Christ.”
Mr Manning, 36, said today that he and his 24-year-old partner were considering an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights because they had been “let down by the justice system”.
“We tried to stand up for our human and gay rights and we have been let down,” he said.
“We do not have a problem with the words of the Bible being preached, it was the manner in which he was preaching, trying to make an example of us in the middle of the high street.”
On Friday, two Christian guesthouse owners who were ordered to pay damages after refusing to allow a gay couple to stay in a double room after losing their appeal.



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