Byline: Ross Slater and Jonathan Petre
POLICE have threatened a Christian cafe owner with arrest - for displaying passages from the Bible on a TV screen.
Jamie Murray was warned by two police officers to stop playing DVDs of the New Testament in his cafe following a complaint from a customer that it was inciting hatred against homosexuals.
Mr Murray, 31, was left shocked after he was questioned for nearly an hour by the officers, who arrived unannounced at the premises. He said he had turned off the Bible DVD after an 'aggressive inquisition' during which he thought he was going to be arrested and 'frog-marched out of the cafe like a criminal'.
But he added: 'I have now checked on my rights and I am not going to be bullied by the police and the PC lobby out of playing the Bible silently in my cafe. It's crazy. Christians have to stand up for what they believe in.'
The Salt and Light cafe in Blackpool has for years repeatedly played the entire 26-hour-long Watchword Bible, a 15-DVD set produced in America in which a narrator reads the whole of the New Testament, on a small flatscreen TV on the back wall.
The sound is turned down but the words flash on to the screen against a series of images.
The cafe, which opened eight years ago, also prides itself on being an oasis of calm in a high-crime area of Blackpool.
Mr Murray said the two uniformed officers from Lancashire Constabulary arrived at lunchtime on Monday, the cafe's busiest time of day. WPC June Dorrian, the community beat manager, told him there had been a complaint and he was breaching the Public Order Act 1986.
Mr Murray said: 'I told them that all that appeared on the screen were the words of the New Testament. There is no sound, just the words on the screen and simple images in the background of sheep grazing or candles burning. I thought there might be some mix-up but they said they were here to explain the law to me and how I had broken it.
'I said, "Are you really telling me that I am facing arrest for playing the Bible?" and the WPC fixed me with a stare and said, "If you broadleft cast material that causes offence under the Public Order Act then we will have to take matters further. You cannot break the law."'
Mr Murray, who worked in a homeless shelter for five years before taking over the cafe three months ago, said he realised the only way to appease the police was to pull the plug on the Bible.
'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. It felt like a betrayal. They 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.'
Mr Murray said he had been given no indication of who had complained or which verses of the New Testament had caused the offence, but he guessed it may have been a reaction to the Book Of Romans that had been playing the week before. The Book takes the form of a letter from the apostle Paul to the people of Rome, in which he rails against all manner of godlessness. …