‘No Praying, Ya Filthy Priest, We’re British!’
The Rev. Daniel French, one of the three Irreverend podcasters, is busy now working on a project he calls "a catechism for the underground church." Each passing day in the UK, it seems, the need for such a volume grows. You're not going to believe what's happened now, in Birmingham. Via the invaluable Alliance Defending Freedom:
A Catholic priest is facing a legal battle after he was charged for breaching a censorship zone by silently praying, in addition to holding a sign with the words “praying for free speech,” near a closed abortion facility in Birmingham.
A further charge related to parking his car, which for some time has had on it a small “unborn lives matter” bumper sticker, within the same area. The area surrounding the facility, located on Station Road, has been covered by a local Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), in force since November, which prohibits prayer, distributing information about pregnancy help services, and other activities considered to constitute “protest”.
For peacefully supporting free speech within the censorship zone, Father Sean Gough was charged with “intimidating service-users” of the abortion facility. This was despite the fact that all this happened while the abortion facility was closed.
“I pray wherever I go, inside my head, for the people around me. How can it be a crime for a priest to pray? I often pray in my head near the abortion facility, but at the time in question, I was praying for free speech, which is under severe pressure in our country today. At all times, I believed my actions to be lawful – freedom of expression, especially when peaceful, is protected in domestic and international law. It is deeply undemocratic to censor public streets, particularly those spaces where we know that many women have benefitted from peaceful offers of help about services available,” said Father Sean Gough.
When police officers initially approached the priest holding the “praying for free speech sign”, they told Father Gough that they did not think that he was breaking rules. However, the priest was later invited for interview at the police station, interrogated on his actions, and eventually criminally charged.
The Crown Prosecution Service subsequently dropped the charges against Father Gough, but made clear that they could be reinstated. Like Isabel Vaughan Spruce, Father Gough has stated his intention to pursue a clear verdict on his charges in court, in order to clear his name.
Unbelievable -- yet all too believable in post-Christian Britain, which now has blasphemy laws protecting Moloch. Seriously, though: this priest was charged in part because of a bumper sticker on his car! And for praying for free speech near an abortion clinic that was closed at the time! If you want to know what you can do to support Father Gough, and all others charged with thoughtcrime in post-Christian Britain, click here.
Can Britons of all faiths and none at all see what's happening here? Your free speech rights are being taken away. This is not nothing. If a law were passed prohibiting anti-Christian silent thought near a church, we would instantly understand what it was, and rise up against it. I certainly would, as a Christian. But this? It's mostly silence.
If the Catholic Church in England and the Church of England were led by real heroes of the faith, bishops would turn up outside those clinics, even after hours, in full episcopal regalia, and walk by silently. We'll see if it happens. The Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley, is supported by three auxiliary bishops. They ought to all be campaigning, loudly and unceasingly, to defend Father Gough, and all the faithful, against this outrage. Britons still enjoy a measure of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. They won't have it much longer if the churches cringe in silence.
One is always prepared to be surprised, but one expects nothing, alas. Last weekend, in London, talking to faithful Anglicans and Catholics both, I heard deep disgust with church leadership over its conformity to the new anti-Christian order. I had not fully realized how the Covid lockdowns were carried out in the UK, but when I got the full story from Christians last weekend, it shocked me to learn what the leadership of the churches did, and did not do. When times get hard, as is happening now, it does seem that the faithful in Britain really are on their own.
(I know this would never happen, and no doubt for good constitutional reasons, but wouldn't it be magnificent if the King, one of whose royal titles is "Defender Of The Faith," were to be seen walking silently in front of an abortion clinic?)
I can't get over this. Father Gough was criminally charged for praying near an abortion clinic that was closed -- and for having a pro-life bumper sticker on his car. If only Britain had a Tory government, this would never happen! Oh, wait...
UPDATE: Charges against one of the earlier prayerful Christian thought criminals have been dropped ... for now. But the charges could be reinstated. More:
Several localities in England have implemented strict buffer zones, which some critics characterize as censorship zones. On the national level, the U.K. Parliament is expected to pass legislation to create buffer zones around abortion clinics. The House of Lords approved the proposed legislation, called Amendment 45, in a voice vote on Jan. 30.
Amendment 45, sponsored by Conservative peer Baroness Sugg of Coldharbour, would make it a crime to engage in activity that seeks to “influence” women who are seeking abortions or “any person’s decision to access, provide, or facilitate the provision of abortion services.”
It criminalizes “harassment, alarm, or distress to any person in connection with a decision to access, provide, or facilitate the provision of abortion services” within 150 meters, about 500 feet, of an abortion clinic.
Those convicted of violating the law could face an unlimited fine, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children reported.
The House of Lords rejected an amendment to investigate whether exclusion zones are justified and their possible denial of rights of association, conscience, freedom of expression, and freedom of religion. Amendment 54 replaces similar legislation in the House of Commons, which is expected to ratify the amendment.
Get weekly emails in your inbox
An unlimited fine! They could bankrupt people, who would be at the mercy of the State. And this was the idea of a Tory peer! A nightmare. A free-speech nightmare. An anti-Christian nightmare. This is Britain today.
Subscribe for as little as $5/mo to start commenting on Rod’s blog.