492 years after burning Bibles, St Paul’s calls police when man reads Word of God aloud in front of Cathedral

10 July 2018

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Nearly 500 years after the Bishop of London burned copies of William Tyndale’s New Testament outside St Paul’s Cathedral in 1526, to prevent ordinary people having access to Scripture in their own language, St Paul’s has once again turned on the Word of God.

A man was apparently arrested outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London after reading the Bible aloud in public. The street preacher, Allan Coote, insisted to a police officer that he was “not committing a crime” as the arrest took place.

St Paul’s Cathedral
Image source: N Chadwick
St Paul’s Cathedral

A video released on social media on 24 June, shows Mr Coote being spoken to by a police officer in an open paved area in a pedestrian zone near the steps of St Paul’s.

Mr Coote asks the policeman why he is being told to move on while other people are standing there talking, before adding he is a preacher and that he has been reading the King James Bible there for weeks.

The police officer tells him,"I haven’t got a problem with what you are doing, but staff here have asked you to move off of the property."

When the preacher continues to politely protest the police officer says, “Then I will arrest you for a breach of the peace.”

Mr Coote replies, “You are going to have to do that … The Lord has asked me to read the Bible here. These people need to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You are not allowing them to hear.” As the officer reads him his rights, the first stage in the arrest process, he continues to insist he is not committing a crime.

A woman filming the incident is heard asking the officer, “Are you saying reading the Bible is a breach of the peace?” at which point the video ends.

In the wake of similar incidents and other erosions of religious freedom in the UK, Barnabas Fund has launched a petition to call upon the UK government to introduce a new Act of Parliament to enshrine fully and permanently hard-fought-for religious freedoms, including the freedom to read Scriptures in public.


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