U.K. Christians acquitted after arrests for preaching on homosexuality

By Chris Eyte |
Police in Glastonbury, England on June 8 arrested John Dunn (R) and Shaun O’Sullivan for comments against homosexuality.
Police in Glastonbury, England on June 8 arrested John Dunn (R) and Shaun O’Sullivan for comments against homosexuality. | (Christian Daily International screenshot from YouTube)

Two U.K. street preachers facing criminal charges for comments against homosexuality outside a witchcraft shop were freed earlier this month after a court dropped all charges.

Police in Glastonbury, Somerset County, England on June 8 arrested John Dunn and Shaun O’Sullivan on charges of breaching the peace under the U.K. Anti-Social Behavior, Crime and Policing Act 2014 after receiving “multiple complaints” about their preaching.

District Judge Angela Brereton dropped the case on March 5 after hearing that both men had exercised legal rights when they said publicly that practicing gay sex and transgenderism conflicted with biblical values. Defense lawyers referred to their rights to freedom of thought and freedom of expression of the U.K. Human Rights Act 1998 (articles 9 and 10 respectively).

Both men faced potential conviction by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) at Taunton Magistrates’ Court earlier this month. Attorneys from the Christian Legal Centre, however, successfully argued that the dispersal notice, arrests and prosecutions were “disproportionate and unlawful,” according to advocacy group Christian Concern. 

CPS prosecutors said they had “no evidence” to support the charges, and Brereton awarded the Christians both legal fees and travel expenses for an unnecessary court case brought at taxpayer expense, according to Christian Concern. 

The evangelists had preached outside a store called The Sons of Asgard Witchcraft Emporium with LGBTQ+ banners in the window. They referenced the Bible’s 1 Cor. 6:9, which states practicing homosexuals “will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” 

O’Sullivan, a former convict turned evangelist, proclaimed Christ as “the King of kings and Lord of lords” as British police officers handcuffed him and escorted him into a police van, according to Christian Concern. 

“This is what happens when you come to broken Britain and preach,” O’Sullivan said. “Glastonbury, we love you, in Jesus’ name.”

At least one of the arresting officers wore an LGBTQ+ rainbow lanyard and an “ask my pronouns” badge. Video footage posted by Christian Concern showed one of the officers before the arrests rebuking the Christians for calling the officer a man.

“I am going to challenge that, as you don’t know whether I am a man or a woman – I’m a person, okay?” the officer said.  

Dunn, a former special forces veteran, previously befriended O’Sullivan after preaching in Swindon. At the time, O’Sullivan was leading a life of crime and drug addiction and heckled Dunn on the street. The message of Christ’s saving death and resurrection changed his life, however, and he soon joined Dunn in proclaiming the gospel, according to Christian Concern. 

The two Christians now spread the message across the country, with O’Sullivan doing most of the preaching as Dunn lost some vocal abilities to throat cancer. 

On the day of the arrest, they preached that “nothing can set you free but Jesus and the God of the Bible.” Before their arrest, some onlookers had assaulted O’Sullivan and verbally abused both men, threatening to report them for a “hate crime,” according to Christian Concern.

“The response from the police was completely disproportionate and a clear example of the two-tier policing that is rife on our streets right now,” Dunn said after their acquittal. “When I preach, I only ever say what is in the Bible. It is very disconcerting when you are approached by police officers accusing you of a ‘hate crime’ for allegedly being ‘homophobic,’ and they have rainbow lanyards around their necks. It does not give any confidence that the lawful expression of Christian beliefs on these issues will be respected or defended.”

O’Sullivan said that he and Dunn will continue to “fight for justice on this matter.”

“I meant it when I said that we were there because we love the people of Glastonbury and wanted them to know the Good News of Jesus Christ,” he said.

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said that Christian open-air preaching had a long tradition in the United Kingdom and should be both protected and defended “at all costs.” 

“John and Shaun are passionate about reaching the public with the Christian faith that has transformed their lives,” Williams said. “They were well within their rights to preach and to continue preaching on Glastonbury’s High Street without being forced to move on or fearing arrest. It is not a [criminal] offense if someone is offended by the truth of the Bible. The police must be impartial and uphold the law, not LGBTQ+ identity politics.”

Glastonbury is known as an epicenter of witchcraft in the U.K. The town also has “four times the national average of people calling themselves pagan or pagan-adjacent and has become an international hub; Americans are particularly numerous,” according to The Spectator.