After a customer complained that Bible passages were inciting hatred against homosexuals, police in Britain have ordered a Christian cafe owner to stop displaying Scripture in his place of business.
James Murray, 31, claims two police officers entered his Salt and Light cafe in Blackpool, England on Sept. 19 and threatened to arrest him if he continued displaying passages from the New Testament on a television screen.
According to the Daily Mail, the Salt and Light cafe has been playing a 26-hour long Bible-on-DVD set on a small television on the back wall of the business for years.
Murray was shocked when two police officers entered the cafe unannounced and informed him that a customer had complained about seeing Bible passages playing that purportedly incites hatred against homosexuals.
The officers informed Murray of Britain's Public Order Act 1986, which addresses hate crimes and offenses that might cause "distress" and "insult."
Murray says one of the officers threatened to "take matters further" if he "breaks the law," which the cafe owner felt was an insinuation of arrest.
At that point, the cafe owner pulled the plug on the television screen.
"I was worried about being handcuffed and led out of the shop in front of my customers. It wouldn’t have looked good so I thought it was better to comply," Murray told the Daily Mail.
He added, "They left the shop and told me they would continue to monitor if we were displaying inflammatory material. At no stage had they spoken to me like I was a law-abiding citizen trying to earn a living. I felt like a criminal."
Murray told the British paper that the officers never informed him who had made the complaint or what particular New Testament passage might have caused offense.
He guessed, however, that the offensive passage might have been Romans 1:26-28, which speaks of women exchanging "natural sexual relations for unnatural ones" and men abandoning "natural relations with women" and being "inflamed with lust for one another."
After his encounter with the police, Murray sought legal advice. The Christian Institute, a charity that defends the religious liberty of Christians, took on his case and informed Murray that he has broken any laws and that his rights may have well been violated.
"We will be advising Mr. Murray of his legal options. He may well have grounds for a legal action against the police for infringing his rights to free speech and religious liberty," said Sam Webster, a legal advisor with The Christian Institute.
"I'm not here to insult or offend anyone, but the Bible is the Bible. We’re always being told that we’re a tolerant and diverse nation. Yet the very thing that gave us those values – Christianity – is being sidelined," Murray said.
There have been dozens of cases and incidents in England involving Christians being challenged over expressions of their faith, with officials often referring to the country's hate crime or equality laws.