A member of Operation 513 preaches in Cavill Mall on the Gold Coast
George, a Queensland street preacher with the Operation 513 group, was arrested on Friday night, despite being authorised to assemble and preach peacefully in the Surfers Paradise Cavill Mall under the state’s Peaceful Assembly Act. Operation 513 had preached in Cavill Mall on several previous occasions without any complaints.
At about 10.30 pm, a police sergeant approached George and told him to “move on” after he had mentioned some sins listed in the Bible (eg 1 Corinthians 6:9-10) – such as adultery, slander, theft, greed, swindling and homosexual conduct.
George and the group organiser Ryan Hemelaar asked for clarification. The female sergeant said (in part): “You have talked about homosexuality, offending members of the public about homosexuality. You are talking about other religions – [saying] that they aren't right, aren't God's way. Now we have members of the public here who are of other religions. Your words over this speaker are causing anxiety. A member of the public has had a go at you and this man here [George] is antagonising him by quoting [from the Bible] in the opposite of what he is trying to say.”
Ryan Hemelaar tried in vain to explain that the group had official authorisation, so that under section 45 of the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act, police could not lawfully give a “move on” order.
An acting senior police sergeant and an inspector then arrived and told George to move on immediately or be arrested. George refused to move on. He was handcuffed and arrested for disobeying a police direction. He was later released and issued with a notice to appear in court later this month.
FamilyVoice Queensland director Geoffrey Bullock is deeply concerned by the police action.
“Since when has it been an offence to discuss Bible teaching in Queensland?” he asked. “Whatever happened to religious freedom? Are we rapidly becoming a ‘police state’?”
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