An elderly street preacher who was arrested in London last April has been acquitted of "hate speech" charges for his public message on biblical marriage.
According to the website Conservative Woman, Pastor John Sherwood of the Penn Free Methodist Church of Penn, England, was acquitted of the charges by the Uxbridge Magistrates' Court on April 7.
As Christian Headlines previously reported, Sherwood was arrested in April 2021 at the center of Uxbridge, London, for preaching on the biblical definition of marriage as outlined in the book of Genesis.
At the time, the street preacher spoke on Genesis 1:27-28, which reads: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, 'Be fruitful, and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.'"
"God's design in creating mankind was to set human beings in families, headed by a father and a mother, not by two fathers or by two mothers," Sherwood argued. "The distinction within mankind of just two genders, male and female, made in the image of God, constitutes the essence of God's created order."
His remarks ultimately led to his arrest following backlash from bystanders who argued his message was "homophobic" and contained "hate speech."
Sherwood's arrest was also caught on video. In the video, police officers are shown pulling the minister down from a step stool where he was delivering his message. He spent the night in a detention center and was released the next day.
According to CBN News, Sherwood's trial was filled with Scripture to drive home the point that his preaching is grounded in the Word of God. "Pastor Sherwood was determined to impress upon the prosecution that everything that he ever preaches upon is grounded in the final authority of God's word, the Bible," his colleague, Pastor Peter Simpson, wrote in the Conservative Woman article.
"During his defense, Pastor Sherwood explained that at no time was he attacking or disparaging any individuals. His motivation was only that his hearers, whoever they might be, might come to repent of sin and believe in Christ for eternal salvation," he continued.
Sherwood, who asked to be sworn in with his own Bible, argued in his defense that he has a right to freedom of expression as outlined in Article 10 of the U.K.'s 1998 Human Rights Act.
"Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority," the act states.