A High Court in Somerset has ruled in favour of Christian preacher Michael Overd following an attempt by local police to restrict his freedom to preach in the streets.
Somerset and Avon Police had accused Michael Overd of “engaging in anti-social” behaviour while preaching about homosexuality, abortion and religion.
Mr Overd told Premier that although he welcomes the ruling, police should not see him as a hindrance.
“It has saddened me, because we should have the support of the police. The police should be seeing us as their friends, not their enemies. We live in a topsy-turvy crazy upside-down world a lot of the time and righteousness is called evil and evil is called good.”
Police argued that the 55-year-old´s preaching style could cause “significant risk or harm to others” and had requested six orders in the injunction that would limit Mr Overd´s freedom.
These ranged from banning him from using a soap box, holding placards and preaching in single town or parish for more than 20 minutes a day.
However, only two out the six orders were recognised by the judge. Mr Overd has been banned from using an amplifier and calling abortionists “murderers” until 2022.
This is not the first time Mr Overd has been accused by Somerset police. According to his legal representative Christian Concern Legal Centre, since 2011 Mr Overd has been prosecuted five times and arrested four times by Avon and Somerset police.
Mr Overd said that the police have had “an agenda” over many years in order to stop him from preaching and explained that he expects a negative reaction from some people when he speaks.
“[For some] Christians sat in church, if you get a preacher preach for an hour, they're looking at their watches [thinking]: they're always preaching too long. So, if that's the reaction in the church to preaching, what do you think it is going to be on the street? If you bring: you must repent of your sin, that hits their pride.”
Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Concern Legal Centre, said:
“We welcome today’s ruling, but Mike’s case shows that unless we stand up for the preachers, there is a real risk that eventually they will come for the ‘moderate’ Christians, the pastors who preach and the everyday Christians who talk to their friends about controversial subjects.”
Mr Overd went on to say that the lack of an amplifier does not faze him, adding “I have got a very strong voice”. He remains committed to sharing the gospel by preaching in the streets.
“For myself, it's just the honour to go and preach. Telling what the Bible says that's it, I just focus on that[…]Now you can jazz it up with music, you can soften it, you can do this and that. But I fear God, and I'm not going to play with His message.”