‘Arresting a lone woman for praying in her head is an inversion of reality’

December 27, 2022

CROSSED OUT: Isabel Vaughan Spruce silently praying outside Birmingham’s BPAS clinic. Despite what the Daily Express and other legacy media saying that this was in contravention of a censorship zone, no religious symbolism was used or said out aloud. The legal case she faces next February depends on what she was holding in her mind, according to the definition of the law by the arresting officer so the reader may ask the question how is this legally set in stone?

SYMBOLIC SACRIFICE: This wreath was laid in remembrance of the Fallen in Wareham HIgh Street prior to the town’s Remembrance Day parade on 13 November that is a symbolically Christian act of witness and worship.

WAR GRAVE: As stated below, this fallen member of the Somerset Light Infantry is unknown, as is his religious affiliation, so a cross was put on this grave, which is the case for all unmarked graves. This may not be widely known by officials and councillors of BCP Council if they participated in a Remembrance Day parade and hoping that all Christian references to the War Graves can be cancelled. This picture was taken on a visit to the Commonwealth War Graves in 2010.

REALITY CHECK: “The Government of any country in which a lone woman can be arrested for the ‘thought crime’ of praying in her head, deserves to fall. They can decide to remove your bodily autonomy in an instant; invade entire countries; , yet they come for silent prayer. We are firmly living in an inversion of reality.” – Muslim journalist and former LBC presenter Maajid Nawaz on Twitter speaking on the arrest of 40 Days for Life founder Isabel Vaughan Spruce.

 

 

ALL of a sudden what you are focusing in your thoughts can now land you in trouble with the law.

On 6 December, charity worker and volunteer and UK head of Forty Days For Life Isabel Vaughan-Spruce found that to her cost when she was arrested by West Midlands Police for silently praying outside a British Pregnancy Advisory Service clinic in breach of an anti-social behavioural order censorship zone despite the fact it was revealed on every occasion, the clinic was actually closed so confrontations would have been avoided.

‘Roadside Counsellors were cancelled by local press and not given right of reply’

On 9 November, I wrote to the local newspaper in east Dorset, The Bournemouth Echo, after they had written hit-pieces against the roadside counsellors who are outside clinics giving alternative health advice to service users. The Echo decided not to use it which is their right of course. The roadside counsellors were cancelled and had no right of reply.

In one of their reports from 1 October written by one of the staff reporters, Lauren Joy, she quoted verbatim their clinic manager Rachael Clarke stating that any leaflets with third party information providing help was misinformation without giving those who they were accusing of that the chance to defend themselves as to why this was the case.

‘Don’t pray against the clinic – says secular council’

I was always under the impression in local journalism was to provide both sides of the story and even if they took an interview out of context to push their own narrative, at least they could say they ticked the box and said they put the other side of the story. In this case the points raised below are only some of those that might have been told to Lauren if she just made a decision to pick up the phone.

A source recently told me who was on the ground revealed that council stewards enforcing the buffer zone said to them “don’t pray against the clinic”. My immediate reaction was a public body such as BCP says it’s a secular organization, why would they be worried about somebody praying? If God is dead given they say they are secular meaning religion is irrelevant, what is the problem? Someone I heard of who is in spiritual authority locally said of this incident: “This is England, not North Korea.”

When the Consultation was put out by BCP Council about the buffer zone they specifically said no one should be in a “buffer zone” with holy water, genuflecting, reciting scripture or the Rosary or would face arrest, not silently praying but this was not extended to anyone using a prayer mat, bangles, (used by Hindus) using beads (similar to a Rosary but used by Muslims) or wearing a Hijab. Is BCP making the assumption they might not face this awkward scenario?

‘Where in Equality Act does it say Christians can be singled out?’

The Council says it is for “equality and diversity” and “inclusion” but in singling out Christian symbolism but not other religions, by those actions aren’t you encouraging discrimination and ultimately vilification of that community? Perhaps either the Council in response to this op-ed or the Echo can state which paragraph and Sub-section of the Equality Act enables the targeting of a religious community in this way?

The Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child (SPUC) say in their literature and on their website that between 15 and 30 per cent of service users may have been forced to use services due to a third party – an abusive partner or relative in many cases – and the roadside counsellors claim the clinics only offer only the treatment for a termination, but no or minimal post-abortion counselling.

‘Other faiths may feel strongly about clinic even if they don’t provide public counselling’

I have personal acquaintance of Muslim and Hindu folk who are very pro-life but they may have their reasons why they don’t go out of the way to provide roadside counselling in the way some Anglican and Roman Catholic Christians do. I don’t know if they provide post-abortion counselling in their temples or mosques, perhaps someone reading this could ask them?

I knew people personally who used to work for the Glastonbury Pregnancy Crisis Centre and I distinctly remember them telling me that they were not there to judge the pregnant service user but provide them with all the options available, including terminations.

If the client was going to proceed with the termination, they couldn’t stop them nor could the pavement counsellors of Ophir Road.

It was also stated in the letter of 9 November, were any of the councillors and BCP officials involved in the lobbying for the buffer zone, laying wreaths on Armistice Day.

This was a reasonable observation given that in participating in an overtly Christian symbolic act of witness, they must have known that the freedom of anyone to religiously assemble, freedom of religion and freedom of speech are symbolic of the poppy and the principle of the buffer zone conflicts with that notion.

‘All unmarked War graves are marked with a cross’

If this is wrong, then why is it that every unmarked war grave in Northern France and Belgium whose religious affiliation is not known, is marked with a cross?

The Bournemouth Echo, West Midlands Police, Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole Council and Birmingham City Council must know that Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, says that ‘everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion’ and the arrest in Birmingham would seem to be in direct contravention of Ms Vaughan-Spruce’s right to pray privately – yes even in the buffer zone as no harassment was being caused as the clinic was closed at the time.

‘Citing scripture as hate speech but allowing to swear legal oath on it is contradictory’

From a legal perspective, BCP Council singled out reciting scripture as a slapped wrist in the buffer zone. The council’s legal department knows full well that the Bible is used as an option “to swear to tell the truth, nothing but the truth so help you God”. If that is currently enshrined in law, how do you simultaneously declare that as “hate speech” and easily strike it down in law?

They also might like to be reminded that Ms Vaughan-Spruce’s experience has gone viral and has been covered by Tucker Carlson of Fox News; Maajid Nawaz, a prominent media voice in the British Muslim community; Mahyar Tousi, a prominent You Tuber, whose family came to this country escaping from Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran and who calls himself an atheist as well as prominent Christian voices like David Kurten and Father Calvin Robinson.

Mr Nawaz, a former LBC presenter and practising Muslim said of the incident; “The Government of any country in which a lone woman can be arrested for the ‘thought crime’ of praying in her head, deserves to fall.

‘Arresting someone for praying in their head is an inversion of reality’

“They can decide to remove your bodily autonomy in an instant; invade entire countries; assassinate their own president, yet they come for silent prayer.

“We are firmly living in an inversion of reality. This can only be corrected by a revolutionary, spiritual awakening.”

In raising this, I totally understand many reading this will say this is proportionate – which isn’t it – but I urge them to look at the On-Line Safety Bill progressing through Parliament and its small print, they may find themselves on the wrong side of the law on issues they are passionate about.

A buffer zone isn’t something to be euphoric about. Trauma is involved throughout the process, and no one ‘wins’ out of this situation.

  • The Bournemouth Echo and BCP Council might want to check out the comments on the You Tube and Twitter backlink feeds to ascertain whether they have the confidence of the public over this law change.

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