A few years back an old friend and I got into quite a heated debate as I refused to sign a petition that he asked me to. My reason for not signing the petition was because one possible implication of this action going through was that it could make reading the Bible in public a hate crime. His response to me was that that would never happen in Canada, no one would ever get arrested for reading the Bible in public.
I subscribe to the e-newsletter from the Voice of the Martyrs, an organisation dedicated to the reporting of and assistance for Christians who face persecution throughout the world (www.persection.net) . Usually the stories I read about concern people and churches in places far away such as China, India and Eritrea. Today there was a story based in Calgary. It is as follows:
Canadian Street Preacher Arrested for Praying in Public
Four years ago, Artur Pawlowski and others began a ministry to establish a church among the street people of Calgary, Alberta. Along with holding services in parks in the downtown, the Street Church is involved in caring for the physical and emotional needs of the homeless.In mid-August, Calgary held a Fringe Festival described as an “uncensored, non-juried theatre festival.” For the Street Church, however, “uncensored” did not appear to apply. According to an August 21 article in the Calgary Sun, Pawlowski was concerned about the spiritual influence of tarot card readers and other spiritualist practitioners who had set up displays at the festival. He began talking to the vendors about their practices. Some of the vendors took offense and called the police. The church members were asked to stop talking to the vendors. They agreed. Two days later, on August 16, Pawlowski and others gathered on the street to pray and read the Bible in an area far away from the vendors. Nevertheless, organizers called police who charged Pawlowski with obstruction of justice, trespassing and disturbing the peace. Pawlowski spent the night in jail and is scheduled to appear in court on September 7.
Pray that the leaders of Street Church will faithfully carry out the task God has given them (1 Peter 5:1-4). Pray that the Holy Spirit will give them the words they need as they answer these charges. Pray that all charges will be dropped.