Police stop cafe displaying bible passages

Jamie Murray, says the officers did not specify which 'Bible texts had caused the offence.
Jamie Murray, says the officers did not specify which 'Bible texts had caused the offence.

A CHRISTIAN cafe owner has been left outraged after passages from the Bible sparked a visit from the police.

Jamie Murray has been playing Bible texts on the TV screen in Layton’s Salt and Light Cafe since it opened eight years ago.

But after a customer took offence to one of the passages, the cafe owner was horrified to receive a visit from uniformed officers.

Mr Murray said: “I couldn’t believe the police were saying I can’t display the Bible.

“I said ‘surely it isn’t a crime to show the Bible?’ But they said they had checked with their sergeant and insulting words are a breach of Section 5 of the Public Order Act. I was shocked.

“I’m not here to insult or offend anyone, but the Bible is the Bible. We’re always being told we’re a tolerant and diverse nation. Yet the very thing that gave us those values – Christianity – is being sidelined.”

The woman customer who complained is believed to have contacted police after a passage about the Christian view of homosexuality was displayed on the screen.

Lancashire Police has confirmed officers were to the cafe following a complaint about offensive material, but denied Mr Murray was asked to stop screening the texts.

It is not the first time the force has sparked such controversy. It was forced to pay out £10,000 in 2005 to Joe and Helen Roberts, a couple from Fleetwood who were interrogated about alleged homophobic comments after being stopped from placing Christian literature next to gay rights leaflets in Poulton’s civic centre.

Mr Murray is now considering taking legal action himself and is being backed by religious charity The Christian Institute.

Mike Judge, from the charity, said: “Will Lancashire Police be publishing a police-approved Bible? I’d have thought Lancashire Police would have learned their lesson after paying out £10,000 to a pair of Christian pensioners who they had interrogated over their views on gay rights.

“After that controversy they promised to review their procedures to stop this kind of nonsense. They broke that promise (last) Monday when their officers marched into the Christian cafe in Layton Road. The police may now be facing another costly legal action.”

Lancashire Police said officers were “duty bound” to visit the cafe after the complaint was received but said no action was taken against Mr Murray.

A spokesman for the force added: “The officer discussed the matter with the cafe owner and explained to them the legislation that is in place around materials that are displayed or broadcast in a public environment.

“At no point did the officer ask the cafe owner to remove any materials or arrest the man and we took a common sense and objective approach in dealing with the complaint.

“We believe our response was completely proportionate and our officers are always available should the cafe owner want to discuss the matter or need any advice in the future.

“The constabulary is respectful of all religious views however we do have a responsibility to make sure that material that communities may find deeply offensive or inflammatory is not being displayed in public.”