When Preaching the Gospel is Illegal

This blog has been quiet now for some time, but an event which took place during the Wimbledon tennis championships seems worthy of note and worthy of reviving the blog for.

You may have seen in the news that an American evangelist, Tony Miano, was arrested for preaching in the streets of London.  One passer-by took offence at Tony’s sermon, called the police, and Tony was taken off to be interviewed.

The Huffington Post cover the basic information in this article if you want to familiarise yourself with the events.

The full transcript of the police interview has been released and can be found in a post on the Archbishop Cranmer blog.  Helpfully, Cranmer has highlighted those areas of the interview in which the police focus in on Tony Miano’s personal beliefs.

Much has been said and written about this arrest but on a personal note, the most insightful piece I have read was a blog post by Phil Moore.  It is well worth reading in full.  He concludes the post with these words:

Whilst I await their response to my complaint, I have been reading 1 Thessalonians  a little bit myself. I am encouraged that Paul tells the Thessalonians that “We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition” (1Th 2:2). I am encouraged that he tells them up front that “You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered … in their effort to keep us from speaking to the pagans so that they may be saved” (1Th 2:14-16). I am encouraged that it is in this context of abuse, arrest and persecution that the Thessalonian church grew and planted churches across the Roman Empire. Paul tells the persecuted believers that “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia – your faith in God has become known everywhere.”

Something has changed. The conditions in Britain are now different. They are less like the comfortable, compromised twentieth century which saw massive church decline. They are becoming a bit more like the days in which the church at Thessalonica flourished: when street-preaching Christians were hated and loved in equal measure.

And, finally, if you are interested, here is Tony Miano’s preaching and arrest in full: