Street evangelist arrested after preaching about sexual sin

Tony Miano being questioned by police in Wimbledon in 2013 after preaching about sexual immorality

Police in Dundee yesterday arrested American street evangelist Tony Miano after a woman complained about his talk on sexual sin.

Mr Miano was arrested as part of a street preaching team holding a week-long mission in Scotland.

He was the second speaker to address lunchtime shoppers on the city's high street that day, and took the opportunity to talk on the different sins Jesus had come to save people from.

When he began listing sexual sins, including adultery, promiscuity, and homosexual practice, a woman started shouting in protest, angrily yelling that her son was gay.

The incident was witnessed by Pastor Josh Williamson of the Craigie Reformed Baptist Church in Perth, a fellow member of the street preaching team.

The pastor said: "Tony wasn't focussing just on homosexual practice – it was about all sin. A woman was yelling at him and her friend noticed we were filming the preaching, so she ran up to me and tried to smash my camera."

The woman who had shouted then appeared to be calling the police, at which point a council warden arrived and suggested that although none of the evangelists were doing anything wrong, they should probably move on.

Mr Miano finished his talk and two police officers arrived as the team of evangelists were packing up.

"The female officer saw we had a camera and lunged for it and then the male policeman grabbed it and threw it in the police van," said Mr Williamson.

Following that, the male officer interviewed the women and then immediately arrested Mr Miano.

According to the Christian Legal Centre, Mr Miano was not questioned and the reasoning behind his arrest was not properly explained.

"After Tony was put in the police van I asked why he was being arrested and was told it was for a breach of the peace and for using homophobic language," said Mr Williamson.

Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre, Andrea Minichiello Williams, says the incident raises serious questions about police procedure and their understanding of the law.

"This appears to be an overzealous reaction by the police," she said.

"The incident adds to the number of arrests of Christian street evangelists for preaching from the Bible.

"It is indicative of the suppression of the freedom to speak and live out the words of Jesus Christ in public and present the teachings of the Bible."

Mr Miano is a former police officer and chaplain with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and currently works as a teacher for open air evangelists.

He also volunteers as a writer for the Christian Apologetics Research Ministry run by Matt Slick.

It is not the first time he has been arrested in the UK while street preaching. Last July, he was arrested in Wimbledon for breaching Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, which included a ban on insulting words or behaviour.

The arrest happened after he preached on the need to abstain from sexual immorality, based on 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12.

In his preaching, which was captured on film, he told passers-by: "My friends, the reality is, we are all going to stand before God to give account for our lives.

"And whether our sin is sexual in nature or not, if we have violated his law in any way – whether it is homosexuality, whether it is refusing to abstain from evil in the heterosexual community and we are lusting after people we are indulging in fornication, but even beyond that if we have so much as told one lie – God sees us as a violator of his law, God does not see us as good."

He was detained by police for seven hours before being released without charge. Ultimately the case was dropped.

The act under which he was arrested on that occasion will no longer be in force from 1 February of 2014, thanks to the Crime and Courts Act which was passed in April last year.

Mr Miano is still in custody following yesterday's arrest and was due to appear before Dundee Sheriff's Court on Thursday.