Crown Prosecution Service (CPS): It Is No Longer Appropriate To Quote Parts of Bible in Public

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS): It Is No Longer Appropriate To Quote Parts of Bible in Public

From News Letter

A statement by the UK’s main prosecution service that it is “no longer appropriate” to read parts of the Bible aloud in public has been dubbed “ill-judged” and “concerning”.

Evangelical activist David Smyth and barrister Gavin Millar were reacting to a little-noticed statement from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), made during a recent attempt to prosecute a street preacher.

Meanwhile, there has been no response at all from the major churches to the news, either in England or Northern Ireland (see below).


The story all stems from a confrontation between a man called John Dunn, a soldier-turned-evangelist, and two lesbians.

It took place on the streets of Swindon two years ago.

Mr Dunn was charged with using “threatening or abusive words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby”.

It was alleged he shouted that the women would “burn in hell” and called one of them a “devil woman”.

Mr Dunn denied this, though his lawyers at the Christian Legal Centre said he acknowledged telling them: “It says in the Bible that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of God”.

According to Mr Dunn’s lawyers, the case against him was discontinued during this week because the complainants could not be reached.

While pressing their case against him though, the CPS made the following argument, in writing, to the court:

“Whether a statement of Christian belief or not, the court is being asked to consider whether the language has the potential to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

“This document is not the forum for religious debate, but the bible contains other material recognising slavery (Exodus 21:7), the death sentence (Exodus 35:2 and Leviticus 24:16) and cannibalism (Deuteronomy 28:27).

“There are references in the bible which are simply no longer appropriate in modern society, and which would be deemed offensive if stated in public.” (News Letter’s emphasis)

The lobby group Christian Concern, which works in tandem with the Christian Legal Centre, issued statements about this case to the press in the past week, but there has been virtually no media coverage of it, despite its potentially far-reaching implications.


Whilst the CPS handles prosecutions only for England and Wales, the arguments it advances and precedents it sets could be influential in other jurisdictions too.

David Smyth, head of the Evangelical Alliance in NI, said: “The CPS holds a really important role in the public life and administration of criminal justice in England and Wales.

“However it is not their role to govern what is ‘appropriate’ or ‘offensive’.

“These comments are unwise and concerning, revealing a lack of understanding and faith literacy.

“We hope and pray that this does not result in a chilling effect on Christians sharing the Bible and their faith in public.”


Meanwhile Gavin Millar KC, a barrister at Matrix Chambers in central London who practices in Northern Ireland and specialises in freedom of speech law, told the News Letter:     

“Both at common law and under the freedom of expression provision in the European Convention on Human Rights (Article 10), it is envisaged that the right to free speech should be exercised responsibly.  If it is not, the right can be restricted.

“But context is everything in deciding whether the right is being exercised responsibly. You need to assess everything that the person was saying on that occasion, to whom it was said, and why.

“Also, the value of the speech has to be assessed in specifics, not in the general terms of this paragraph in the skeleton.

“This bare, and rather sweeping, statement about passages in the bible is ill-judged because it does not recognise this.

“In relation to responsible speech, the passages could be read out or referred to in public in a way/context that is not at all offensive – for example in an academic or religious discussion of whether the sentiments in these passages are defensible in this day and age, or how they might be reinterpreted or understood to mean something that is not offensive in modern terms.

“Or in a historical discussion about slavery, that passage could be cited as one that would have informed pro-slavery views in the past.

“In relation to content there are obvious differences between them.

“Someone could, for example, argue for the return of the death penalty as part of a legitimate political debate (and people do though it is increasingly rare these days) citing that passage in the bible in support of their opinion.

“This would have a value as political speech in a democracy.”


The News Letter asked Northern Ireland’s prosecution agency, the PPS, if it shares the CPS’ view of the Bible.

It responded: “This is not a PPS case so we are not in a position to provide comment.”

The criticisms made by Mr Smyth and Mr Millar were put to the CPS, but it did not respond.

The News Letter also asked the following churches to comment, but none did:

The Presbyterian Church in Ireland (no reason specified);

The Church of Ireland (“as a matter of protocol, we would not generally comment on cases in jurisdictions covered by other churches”);

The Irish Catholic Church (the central press office only responded mid-afternoon on Friday, referring the News Letter to the diocese of Down and Connor, which said it might respond at a later date);

The English Catholic Church (“as this case didn’t result in a conviction, there is nothing we can add at this point”);

And the Church of England (“I don’t think we would have anyone who could comment on this from Church House” – the CoE’s HQ).

If you deny me in the presence of men, I will deny you in the presence of my Father in Heaven.


The references to the Bible made by the CPS in its argument to the court all come from the Pentateuch, the oldest segment of the Old Testament.

These are the specific verses the CPS suggests are now unquotable:

Exodus 21:7 on slavery;

Exodus 35:2 and Leviticus 24:16 on the death penalty;

And Deuteronomy 28:27 on cannibalism.

The exact wordings of each are below (in NIV translation) – though, as you can see, the last one cited by the CPS is actually a mistake:

Exodus 21 sets out the rules for ownership of both “servants” and “slaves”, including how they are to be treated and how long they have to serve their masters.

Verse 7 onwards says: “And if a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as the menservants do.

“If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who had designated her for himself, he must allow her to be redeemed.

“He has no right to sell her to foreigners, since he has broken faith with her. And if he chooses her for his son, he must deal with her as with a daughter.”

Exodus 35:2 says: “For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a day of sabbath rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it is to be put to death.”

Leviticus 24:16 says: …”anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD is to be put to death. The entire assembly must stone them. Whether foreigner or native-born, when they blaspheme the Name they are to be put to death.”

And Deuteronomy 28:27, which the CPS claims is about “cannabalism”, actually says: “The Lord will afflict you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors, festering sores and the itch, from which you cannot be cured.”

The CPS may have been thinking of Deuteronomy 28:53, which warns about the punishments which enemies will inflict if God’s commands are ignored.

It says: “Because of the suffering your enemy will inflict on you during the siege, you will eat the fruit of the womb, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you.

“Even the most gentle and sensitive man among you will have no compassion on his own brother or the wife he loves or his surviving children”…   To read the above report at source, click here


Editor writes…

“A statement by the UK’s main prosecution service that it is “no longer appropriate” to read parts of the Bible aloud in public has been dubbed “ill-judged” and “concerning”.

“Ill-judged”?  “Concerning”?  Try “outrageous” and “completely unacceptable” – for starters. Ask me again after I’ve returned from the pub, which is where I’d be going after reading this, if only I drank the stuff.

As we know, sadly, from the Covid Compliant Clergy, were this sort of nonsense to be legalised, there would be priests and others who would make careful note of the “inappropriate parts of the Bible” and, with equal care, avoid quoting or making reference to them. The loud silence from the churchmen asked to comment on the above report, says it all.   From my own experience, in any case, it’s a long time since those parts of the Scriptures deemed “controversial” are mentioned in homilies, so with the threat of criminal action on the horizon, I think we’ve about as much chance of hearing a pulpit thumping exhortation to Christian morality as we have of seeing Pope Francis offering a Traditional Latin Mass.   Your thoughts…

Comments (13)

  • westminsterfly

    I note the CPS didn’t say it was ‘inappropriate’ to quote from parts of the Quran in public. “From the Islamic standpoint, homosexuality is a forbidden action; a major sin and anyone who partakes in it is considered a disobedient servant to Allah that will acquire His displeasure and disapproval. This is clearly stated in the three main sources of the Shariah: The Quran, the Sunnah, and the consensus of all scholars, which extends from the time of the Prophet till today.”

    November 27, 2022 at 6:14 pm
    • Josephine


      That was exactly my own first thought – would they even think of calling parts of the Quran “inappropriate”. Just imagine the outcry!

      Christianity is easy to attack because we don’t fight back, and we tend to accept things as a suffering to offer up. These charlatans know that and take advantage.

      The responses from the Catholic Church are disgraceful.

      November 27, 2022 at 10:20 pm
      • Lily

        I agree about the Church responses, but can we really be surprised?

        November 28, 2022 at 12:21 pm
    • Margaret Mary


      What mystifies me is, surely there are Christian lawyers who will object to this?

      November 28, 2022 at 11:47 am
      • Lily

        Margaret Mary,

        I’ve had the same thought myself. Maybe that’s why this idea won’t go anywhere

        November 28, 2022 at 12:16 pm
      • westminsterfly

        Margaret Mary,
        There are good Christian lawyers – like those at the Christian Legal Centre who speak out and give practical support to the persecuted, but I have noticed that they are usually non-Catholic. The official Catholic response to these outrages is usually non-existent. I note the hierarchy will threaten legal action when their own reputations – either by accusation of sins of commission or omission – are made public, but otherwise they keep quiet. Likewise the utterly useless groups like ‘Catholic Voices’ who are meant to respond to media issues. I’ve also seen this with some novus ordo priests I used to work with. As long as everything is alright in their own little bubbles, and they have all their creature comforts, they are simply not interested in sticking their necks out and defending the Faith – on whatever issue. They just don’t care.

        November 28, 2022 at 1:47 pm
      • Nicky


        I agree, that is what I see as well. No Catholic lawyers stood up against the lockdowns, for example, and now this. They are all disorientated – not able to see the truth, not understanding what is happening around them.

        November 28, 2022 at 2:25 pm
      • editor

        Talking about lawyers…

        November 28, 2022 at 11:30 pm
  • Margaret Mary

    This is the state no longer creeping, but pushing itself further and further into our lives, controlling us, what we read, even to the very sacred scriptures themselves.

    Apart from this infringement on our freedoms, these lawyers are showing their absolute ignorance of theology. God does not change to move with the times. He is unchanging. It’s one of the first catechism answers we learnt at primary school and yet these supposedly educated people don’t know it. Stupid is, as stupid does.

    I hope if this suggestion goes further that even the most faithless bishop will speak out. Saying that, I won’t hold my breath.

    November 28, 2022 at 11:44 am
  • Nicky

    It’s the increasing attacks on Christianity that we are witnessing which are a sign of the end times, IMHO. No other religion is being attacked like this, quite the opposite, they are protected.

    November 28, 2022 at 2:22 pm
  • Laura

    This is just the latest evidence that Fatima is coming true. Who on earth doesn’t know that the Scriptures are not up for grabs by the woke lot? It’s just ridiculous. You have to wonder that this is coming from the CPS. Surely, they have to know better?

    November 28, 2022 at 4:16 pm
  • Michaela

    When I saw the rainbow symbol at the top of this article, beside the heading “How it all began”, I thought, of course that’s how it all began. This woke drive is all about forcing everyone to accept the whole LGBTQI+ agenda, no questions asked. I’m just surprised that Leviticus 18:22 wasn’t among the “inappropriate” bible quotes on the list.

    November 28, 2022 at 6:49 pm
    • Margaret Mary


      That is so true. It’s the LGBTQ+ lobby which is behind all these additional things – trans rights, paedophile rights, and probably bestiality rights eventually. Anything goes, as long as the person asking for the “right” to do something, wants it.

      November 29, 2022 at 10:04 am

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