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Your views: Is there room for religion in high street?
News Shopper’s website reported last week how Christian preacher Josh Williamson was threatened with police action for using an amplifier in Woolwich. EMILY BERTWISTLE asked shoppers for their views on religious street campaigners.
BAPTIST minister Mr Williamson was spreading the good news in Powis Street on February 20, using a board equipped with an amplifier which played a reading of St John’s Gospel.
But an enforcement officer from Greenwich Council approached the 27-year-old and told him to turn the volume down, before ordering him to switch it off completely.
He told News Shopper: “The issue seemed to be the message rather than the amplification.
“What right does a council officer have to determine what the British public should and shouldn’t hear?”
After being threatened with police action, officers arrived at the scene but did nothing to stop the noise and Mr Williamson was free to continue the Lord’s work.
What shoppers said:
Richard Cranfield, 51, of Ampleforth Road, Abbey Wood, said: “I think it's wrong the council tried to take him away because we’re a free, democratic society.
“As long as you’re not inciting racial hatred, you should be able to air your views.
“My dad fought in the Second World War for our freedom of speech.”
Martin Bonde, of Iron Mill Lane, Crayford, said: “It can be a bit in-your-face.”
The 45-year-old added: “People shouldn’t be forcing their views on others.”
Sean McCartan 25, from Woolwich, said: “I believe people have a right to practice and preach their religion.
“However, I don’t think they should shove it down other people’s throats.”
Susan Hoskins, 65, of Wenvoe Road, Bexleyheath, said: “I think it’s brilliant.
“This is free speech. As long as it’s peaceful, it’s fine.”
Have your say
What do you think about religious preachers on the street? Are they just exercising their right to free speech or are they a nuisance? What about other people you meet on the street, such as charity collectors – are they are a welcome sight or an unwanted obstruction? Add your comments below.