LONDON, England - A street preacher in the northwest side of England was recently incarcerated for publicly sharing his Christian beliefs. He has taken the police to court and he has spoken out publicly for the first time about his arrest and his right to free speech.
Christian street preacher Dale McAlpine was thrown in a prison cell last month for publicly objecting to homosexuality.
Mcalpine, from Workington in Cumbria, was arrested following a conversation with a police officer in which McAlpine said the Bible calls homosexual conduct a sin. The arrest incident was captured on a hidden camera.
He was preaching publicly in the town on April 20, but he insists he never spoke about the subject of homosexuality during his public sermon.
"When I got up on my step ladder to preach, I never mentioned homosexual conduct," he said. "I mentioned a number of other sins like drunkenness, adultery and blasphemy, but I never once mentioned the sin of homosexuality while I was preaching."
He was later arrested and held overnight in a cell at the Cumbria Police station and was charged with a crime. McAlpine told CBN News he was in complete shock to find himself locked up simply for sharing his beliefs.
"I was shocked that I was taken off the street," he added. "I didn't expect to be taken to a prison cell that day. I went out to preach the Gospel and I was shocked that I found myself in a cell and my freedom taken away from me. Yet I had a wonderful peace from the Lord and I had my Bible."
Tom Jones, an IT consultant from McAlpine's church, said he was also shocked to discover his friend had been locked up. He has known the street preacher for many years.
"I've known Dale for the last four years since he started attending our church and obviously I was aware being part of the church that he did preacher on the streets and he said nothing that wasn't Biblical, therefore I was very shocked," Jones said.
Four days after McAlpine pled not guilty to the charge, the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case due to insufficient evidence.
The police were unable to comment on the case.
"We would like to reassure the public that we respect, and are committed to upholding, the fundamental right to freedom of expression. We are just as committed to maintaining the peace and preventing people feeling alarmed or distressed by the actions of others in public places," Chief Superintendent Steve Johnson said in a written statement.
The Christian Institute helped McAlpine with his legal defence. Spokesman Simon Calvert said the police must be held responsible for their actions.
"The Cumbria Police can't just walk away from this," Calvert said. "They arrested and charged an innocent man for no other reason than he peacefully expressed his Christian beliefs and it's happened in other parts of the country too. So there's clearly a problem with the system and it has to be put right."
McAlpine along with the Christian Institute have considered his legal options to ensure that something like this won't happen again. But while many cases like this continue across the United Kingdom, Christians remain concerned that their ability to openly express their beliefs in the country remains under threat.