Met police seem to be clear on homophobia but not on jihad

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

My dealings with the Metropolitan Police press bureau over the arrest of a Christian street preacher reveal that officers are very clear on what 'homophobia' means, despite their apparent uncertainty about the meaning of 'jihad'.

After Met officers arrested Pastor John Sherwood in Uxbridge in April 2021, the press bureau issued an unambiguous defence of their actions: "At 13:35hrs on Friday, 23 April, officers on patrol were flagged down by a member of the public who made them aware of a man allegedly making homophobic comments close to Uxbridge Underground Station.

A number of other people also approached the officers with concerns about the man's language.

Officers spoke with the 71-year-old man and he was subsequently arrested on suspicion of an offence under Section 5 of the Public Order Act.

He was taken to a west London police station and later released under investigation.

A file has been passed to the Crown Prosecution Service [CPS] for review and consideration."

Contrast this with the statement the Met issued after what it called "the demonstration organised by Hitz ut-Tahrir Britain throughout the day (Saturday 21 October) alongside the much larger protest by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign".

The Met said: "In addition to officers deployed with the protest, we have counter terrorism officers with specialist language skills and subject expertise working alongside public order officers in our main operations room, assessing any videos and photos that emerge.

"They have reviewed a video from the Hitz ut-Tahrir protest in which a man can be seen to chant 'jihad, jihad'.

"The word has a number of meanings but we know the public will most commonly associate it with terrorism.

"Specialist officers have assessed the video and have not identified any offences arising from the specific clip."

Pastor Sherwood had been preaching on Genesis chapter 1 verses 27 and 28, which state: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth" (King James Version).

According to his preaching colleague, Peter Simpson, writing in The Conservative Woman after John Sherwood was cleared of the public order charges against him in April 2022: "The minister explained that the family unit as ordained by God consists of a father and a mother, and not two fathers or two mothers, who are obviously unable to reproduce. His words were delivered as part of a general presentation of the Christian message, which declares that all people, whoever they are, have sinned and need to come to Jesus Christ for salvation."

For stating the biblical teaching on the heterosexual nature of marriage, Met officers arrested him, interrogated him about his beliefs, and held him overnight in a police station.

So, on the day of Home Secretary Suella Braverman's meeting with Met Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley (October 23) over the 'policing' of the disorder in London during which violent threats of jihad were made against Jews, I contacted the Met press bureau.

I asked whether the Met "are now prepared to give assurances that Christian street preachers who peaceably and lawfully speak up for traditional Christian teaching on marriage will no longer be subject to arrests and interrogations by Met police officers".

I was told: "Officers have to assess each situation and allegation."

This refusal to rule out arresting someone for not breaking the law would appear to be typical of the lack of moral clarity in police forces generally and is it not a symptom of the de-Christianisation of Britain since the 1960s? The woke police will act to suppress 'homophobia', which according to neo-Marxist doctrine includes public statements of religious teaching about the heterosexual nature of marriage. But they stare at screen shots of jihadis making threats of violence against Jews and then do nothing.

Though the behaviour of the police, now thoroughly on board with left-wing dogma, was sadly predictable, it is not morally acceptable, as the October Declaration, which I have signed, makes clear. Launched this week by "a group of concerned British citizens and residents from a wide range of backgrounds and professions who stand in solidarity with British Jews and condemn all forms of antisemitism, whether in Britain or elsewhere", it affirms:

"British Jews should not live in fear because of actions taken by the state of Israel to defend itself. The British state must do everything in its power to protect them. While we respect the right of all groups to engage in peaceful protest, we urge the police to enforce the law without fear or favour."

Julian Mann is a former Church of England vicar, now an evangelical journalist based in Lancashire.