Allen Coote, a 55-year-old bus driver who was arrested last week for bellowing biblical baloney outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London, wants the UK Parliament to pass a preacher protection law.
According to this report, Coote has been making a nuisance of himself outside the cathedral, and was repeated told to bugger off by cathedral staff.
A statement issued by the cathedral said:
In order to provide a prayerful and safe space for all, St Paul’s has a policy of limiting any form of public oration, protest, demonstration, preaching or other source of disturbance to people.
The Chapter’s policy is to allow a short interval and then ask the person to stop, and to involve the police if they refuse to do so or to move off the Cathedral’s land. The police are supportive of this policy and on one occasion briefly arrested a man who regularly returned to read loudly passages from the Bible because he was refusing to respond to polite requests from Cathedral staff to move on.
But the cathedral partially backed down after the loon got a meet one of the cathedral ‘s clergy, and Coote was told he would be allowed to read from his Big Book of Bullshit once a week for 30 minutes.
Not good enough, says Coote, who called the decision “unreasonable”. He’s now involved himself in a new campaign started by the religious freedom group Barnabas Fund to urge Parliament to enact a new law to protect the right to of the religiously handicapped to publicly preach from the Bible.
Martin Parsons, the charity’s head of research, said:
One of the first aspects of freedom of religion to be established in England was the freedom to read the Bible in public. A Royal decree specifically forbade clergy from stopping anyone reading the Bible in public. Now St Paul’s Cathedral is trying to stop someone reading the Sermon on the Mount in public.
I can’t see why there was a problem. Nobody [members of the public] actually complained. I’m not sure why they wanted to take action on me but I felt it was right for me to read the Bible and I’ve been doing it since.
St Paul’s officials had tried to stop Coote from reading the Bible aloud to passersby on church property for 10 out of 11 times in the past few months.
The Bible says to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. Now, there are many people on the concourse of St Paul’s that come … from all nations of the world and I was just basically [saying] what they should hear. Some of them were really pleased to stop and just listen to me reading from the Bible …