I am completely disgusted to report that the Whangarei police and the Whangarei council have defended their silencing of a Christian street preacher who until this month had been able to exercise his free speech and his right to religious freedom for 19 years.
Police and the Whangarei council are defending their decision to shut down a ‘[…] preacher in the city mall.
The preacher […] was asked to move on after delivering a lengthy old-style sermon.
[…] free speech campaigners are now challenging the use of police to silence him.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/morningreport/audio/2018707570/whangarei-police-defend-shut-down-of-loud-hellfire-preacher
You can listen to the RNZ report here. In it, both the police and the council are spinning hard to find a way to make the Christian preacher’s free speech a ‘crime.’ The police framed his peaceful sermon as “disorderly behaviour.” The Council spokesperson said that the council didn’t want “anyone threatened, frightened, hurt or upset” and said it was the council’s responsibility to keep the place safe. In saying that she inferred that the peaceful preacher had threatened, frightened, hurt or upset the public when the only thing that happened was that some people didn’t like what he had to say and exercised their free speech by telling him so.
The councillor also defended using a pamphlet bylaw to prevent him from handing out his pamphlets claiming that it was not about censorship or shutting down free speech but about creating a “comfortable and pleasant” space for the public. Sadly neither the police nor the Whangarei council has any interest in creating a “comfortable” or “pleasant” place for the Christian preacher to exercise his right to both free speech and religious freedom.