Christian hoteliers charged with insulting Muslim guest. Implications for JWs?

by Black Sheep 23 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Black Sheep
    Black Sheep

    Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang are charged with breaching Section 5 of the Public Order Act – causing harassment, alarm or distress. If convicted, they face fines of £2,500 each and a criminal record.

    Does this mean that our UK Apostabuddies are now able to lay charges against JWs who insult them in some religious way? I would love to see a spate of those court cases in the headlines.



    Christian hoteliers charged with insulting Muslim guest

    A Christian couple who run a hotel have been charged with a criminal offence for allegedly insulting a female Muslim guest about her beliefs.

    By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent
    Published: 9:30PM BST 19 Sep 2009

    Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang are charged with breaching Section 5 of the Public Order Act – causing harassment, alarm or distress. If convicted, they face fines of £2,500 each and a criminal record.

    The Muslim woman was staying at the Bounty House Hotel in Liverpool, which is run by the Vogelenzangs, when a conversation arose between the hoteliers and their guest about her faith.

    It is understood that among the topics debated was whether Jesus was a minor prophet, as Islam teaches, or whether he was the Son of God, as Christianity teaches.

    Among the things Mr Vogelenzang, 53, is alleged to have said is that Mohammad was a warlord. His wife, 54, is said to have stated that Muslim dress is a form of bondage for women.

    The conversation, on March 20, was reported by the woman to Merseyside Police. Officers told the couple that they wanted to interview them over the incident.

    After being questioned on April 20, they were interrogated again three months later before being charged on July 29 with a religiously-aggravated public order offence. They appeared in court on August 14 and are now awaiting trial.

    Mr and Mrs Vogelenzang do not accept that they were threatening or abusive in any way. David White, who is representing them, said that they believe they have the right to defend their religious beliefs.

    Their case is being funded by the Christian Institute, which has backed a number of Christians in legal disputes.

    A spokesman for the Institute said: "We are funding Ben and Sharon's defence because we believe important issues of religious liberty and free speech are at stake.

    "In many instances we have detected a worrying tendency for public bodies to misapply the law in a way that seems to sideline Christianity more than other faiths."

    A police spokesman said: "Merseyside Police can confirm that Benjamin Vogelenzang and Sharon Vogelenzang, both of Fazakerley, were charged with a religiously-aggravated public order offence on 29 July 2009. This follows an incident on 20 March 2009."

  • Psychotic Parrot
    Psychotic Parrot

    This is why religion is a big steaming pile of shit.

  • OnTheWayOut

    I don't know the details of this case, so I am just guessing. But if a guest engages in a conversation with the staff, isn't the staff free to say what they feel? It's not like they checked the lady into the hotel and gasped, "You are in bondage to Islam, poor girl."

    I think it is a matter of freedom of speech.

    This could become known and end JW business territory. If the customer can sue over religious discussion, then no business people (wait staff, cabbies, cashiers, maids, doormen, anyone) will want to engage in religious discussion. Of course, most don't want to anyway, so leave them alone.

  • MissingLink

    Great to see the nuts on both sides battling it out between themselves. Although the free speech aspect is troubling.

  • wobble

    I shall be interested to see how this case unfolds, I think it will be necessary to prove that a breach of the peace took place, if so then surely the "offended" woman must be just as guilty ? If voices were raised hers was one of them.

    We don't have much freedom of speech left in the U.K so it is an important case.

    A JW could take me to Court for saying Judge Ratherfraud was a drunk, maybe true,but I might offend them. Nothing happens when you are offended,you don't die from being offended,get over it.

    It seems we cannot say in public here in the U.K that Muhammad was a warlord, read John Bagot Glubb's excellent biography of The Prophet and you will see that he was. We cannot say that Muslim womens formal dress is oppressive, and yet it is. Both these points were made by the accused,according to reports.

    I find it sad that hard one freedoms of the past are being eroded by the mis-use of laws framed to prevent hate crimes, these laws are not there because some sensitive soul cannot stand to hear the truth.



  • Finally-Free

    There's a lot I'd like to say, but I'm afraid of being charged or sued for transforming my thoughts into words.


  • poppers

    Is it any wonder there is so much strife and violence due to religious differences? It's a human tendency to identify so strongly with religious beliefs that people are willing to kill each other over them. How ironic and sad. Look at the furor a statement or comic strip produces. It's sheer lunacy.

  • Black Sheep
    Black Sheep

    Whilst Religiously Aggravated offences of violence, quite understandably, raise extreme concern their creation does not raise any particular issues of principle. Ultimately violence is violence whatever its motivation. However issues of principle and arguments about the complex and subtle interrelationship between freedom of speech and religious insult can arise with regard to prosecutions for Religiously Aggravated Public Order Offences. In particular with regard to the concept of “insulting words or behaviour”. For a prosecution to succeed under Section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986 . it is necessary for the prosecution to show that someone has been harassed, alarmed or distressed by some words or behaviour used and also that the defendant "intended" to cause harassment, alarm or distress. However it is possible to be convicted under section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.without there necessarily being any specific complainant. For a discussion on some of these difficulties read two Articles about Religiously Aggravated Offences. For an example see the case of Norwood v DPP [2003] EWHC 1564 (Admin)

    It appears, to me, that any JW who insults an Apostate in a public place, with witnesses, could have their collar felt by Mr Plod.

  • Black Sheep
    Black Sheep

    For these offences we have to prove first that the offender committed one of the basic offences and then we have to prove that the offence was racially or religiously aggravated.

    The basic offences that can be charged include offences of assault or wounding, harassment, damage and public order offences, such as causing people to fear violence or harassment. More severe sentences can be imposed when these offences are charged as specific racially or religiously aggravated offences.

    If you are harassed, or threatened with harassment, for being an Apostate, you have the basic offence for which a more severe sentence can be imposed because the offence was religiously aggravated.



    Turn the handle.



  • avishai

    The UK has gone entirely too far in the PC and appeasment direction. Reminds me of the good o' days of Neville Chamberlain

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