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Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest
09-23-2009, 06:25 PM,
#1
Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest
Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest

By Jonathan Petre
Last updated at 12:28 PM on 20th September 2009

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A Christian couple have been charged with a criminal offence after taking part in what they regarded as a reasonable discussion about religion with guests at their hotel.

Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang were arrested after a Muslim woman complained to police that she had been offended by their comments.

They have been charged under public order laws with using ‘threatening, abusive or insulting words’ that were ‘religiously aggravated’.
Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang

Facing trial: Christian hoteliers Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang believed the religious discussion was reasonable and deny their comments were threatening

The couple, whose trial has been set for December, face a fine of up to £5,000 and a criminal record if they are convicted.

Although the facts are disputed, it is thought that during the conversation the couple were challenged over their Christian beliefs.


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It is understood that they suggested that Mohammed, the founder of Islam, was a warlord and that traditional Muslim dress for women was a form of bondage.

They deny, however, that their comments were threatening and argue that they had every right to defend and explain their beliefs.
The Bounty House Hotel in Liverpool

Scene of 'offence': The Bounty House Hotel in Liverpool, where a Muslim guest was upset

Mrs Vogelenzang, 54, who has run the Bounty House Hotel near Aintree racecourse in Liverpool with her husband Ben, 53, for six years, said: ‘Nothing like this has happened to us before. We are completely shocked.’

She added that the episode had damaged their business and they had been forced to lay off staff and run the nine-bedroom hotel by themselves, leaving them exhausted.

Sources said that a number of guests staying at the hotel, which charges £92 a night for a double room, were having breakfast in its restaurant on March 20 when comments were made about religion.

One of those involved was the Muslim woman, who was staying at the hotel while she received treatment at a hospital nearby.

The couple, who are members of the Bootle Christian Fellowship, and their solicitor, David Whiting, said they could not discuss the content of the conversation for legal reasons. But the independent lobby group, the Christian Institute, which has seen both the prosecution and defence legal papers, is supporting their defence.

Mr Whiting, who last year successfully defended street preacher Anthony Rollins in Birmingham, said: ‘There is a dispute as to the facts of the allegations, but Ben and Sharon do not accept they were threatening, abusive or insulting.

‘They are committed Christians and it is the defence’s contention that they have every right to defend their religious beliefs and explain those beliefs to others who do not hold similar views.’

After the incident, the couple voluntarily attended St Anne’s Street police station in Liverpool, where they were interviewed under caution.

In July they were arrested and charged under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 and Section 31 (1) © and (5) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998.

They appeared briefly at Liverpool Magistrates Court on Friday to hear the date of their trial before magistrates, and were granted bail on the condition that they did not approach any of the witnesses expected to appear.

The use by the police of the Public Order Act to arrest people over offensive comments has dismayed a number of lawyers, who say the legislation was passed to deal with law and order problems in the streets.

Neil Addison, a prominent criminal barrister and expert in religious law, said: ‘The purpose of the Public Order Act is to prevent disorder, but I’m very concerned that the police are using it merely because someone is offended.

‘It should be used where there is violence, yobbish behaviour or gratuitous personal abuse. It should never be used where there has been a personal conversation or debate with views firmly expressed.

‘If someone is in a discussion and they don’t like what they are hearing, they can walk away.’

He added that the police had a legal duty under the Human Rights Act to defend free speech ‘and I think they are forgetting that’.

A number of Church leaders in Liverpool have written to Keir Starmer, the Director of Public Prosecutions, voicing their concerns and pressing for the case to be dropped.

Christian Institute spokesman Mike Judge said ‘important’ issues of religious liberty were at stake.

‘In recent years, we have backed several cases where Christians have suffered unfair treatment because of their faith,’ he said. ‘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 spokesman for Merseyside Police said: ‘It would be inappropriate to comment as this is an ongoing case.’

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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-12...l#ixzz0Rx3pSOX9
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09-23-2009, 06:29 PM,
#2
Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest
[Image: hotteq7.jpg]
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09-23-2009, 06:41 PM,
#3
Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest

Christian couple face losing hotel after criminal charges for offending Muslim woman
A Christian Couple face losing their livelihood after being charged with a criminal offence for offending a Muslim woman by saying that Islamic dress is oppressive.


By John Bingham
Published: 4:13PM BST 20 Sep 2009
Christian couple face losing hotel after criminal charges for offending Muslim woman
It is thought that the couple's hotel has suffered a major drop in takings because of the case

Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang are awaiting trial accused of breaching public order by insulting a guest at their hotel in Aintree, Liverpool, about her religion.

The couple, who are members of an evangelical congregation, were arrested by police after getting into a discussion with the woman about the differences between Christianity and Islam earlier this year.

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Mrs Vogelenzang, 54, is understood to have described Muslim dress as putting women into “bondage” while her husband, 53, allegedly described the Prophet Mohammed as a “warlord”.

The Christian Institute, which is finding the Vogelenzangs’ defence, said that the case showed that Christians are suffering growing “persecution” by officials who use the law to prevent them speaking about their faith.

It is understood that the couple’s business, the Bounty House Hotel in Aintree, has suffered a major drop in takings because of the case.

Friends said that they had seen bookings fall by up to 80 per cent after a local hospital stopped an arrangement in which it recommended the hotel to people attending courses there after hearing that the owners were facing criminal charges.

Although the couple have told friends that they understood the hospital’s position, they fear they could end up losing their business.

“It is just a consequence of the case that not only are they worrying about criminal charges but they may also lose their business,” said Mike Judge, a spokesman for the institute.

It is understood that the argument happened on the last day of the woman’s stay at the hotel in March when she appeared in Muslim dress.

The woman, who has not been named, is said to have told them that Jesus is considered a “minor prophet” in Islam while the debate also touched on the status of Mohammed.

The guest complained to Merseyside Police who called the couple in for an interview. They were questioned twice before being charged with a religiously aggravated public order offence.

They appeared before magistrates last week where they denied the charges and are due to go on trial later this year. If found guilty they face a fine and a criminal record.

Mr Vogelenzang denies calling the Prophet Mohammed a “warlord”. It is understood that his wife accepts that she used the word “bondage” about Islamic dress but denies deliberately causing offence.

“Even if the court accepts that these things were said, I have read this sort of thing in many western criticisms of Islam,” said Mr Judge.

“If we are really saying that someone can’t express that without having their collar felt by the police I think we are in a very worrying situation for freedom of speech.”

He added: “There is a persecution of Christians and I think public officials are misusing the law in that way.”

Merseyside Police confirmed that the couple have been charged with religiously a aggravated public order offence.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics...slim-woman.html
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09-23-2009, 06:52 PM,
#4
Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest
James968 (mail):
On the Flip side is the case of a woman, with 2 disabled Children. B/c of this the Neighborhood kids are harassing her, smashing the windows of her house, hitting her son with rocks, etc. Over several years called the police 33 times, 13 in 2007. They refuse to do anything. (They did suggest she keep her curtains closed). The woman is terrified and retreats into her house and its a virtual prisoner. Instead of using the "Public DIsorder Act", the police simply begin ignoring her calls.

She kills herself (and her mentally ill daughter).
Coroner attacks police for failing to protect mother Fiona Pilkington
9.21.2009 4:12am
(link)
Tenrou (mail):
Religion can always be a touchy subject. As the old saying goes, don't discuss religion or politics if you want to keep your friends from becoming enemies. The cultural landscape in America has changed so much since 9/11. There was an really interesting post about this topic on this blog: http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/
9.21.2009 4:16am


http://volokh.com/posts/1253511833.shtml#contact
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09-23-2009, 06:55 PM,
#5
Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest
Bradford Cathedral has appointed a Muslim as the Cathedral’s first Interfaith Development Officer. Nuzhat Ali is to be the second Muslim the Church of England has added to its payroll, following the example of Blackburn Cathedral.

I hope that this sort of gesture works the other way around, in mosques in the UK, or perhaps in mosques in Islamic countries?

Religious Intelligence

Bradford Cathedral has appointed a Muslim as the Cathedral’s first Interfaith Development Officer. Nuzhat Ali is to be the second Muslim the Church of England has added to its payroll, following the example of Blackburn Cathedral.

Mrs Ali is a senior member of the Islamic Society of Britain who has worked closely with the local council. She will work under Canon Frances Ward and her initial projects include Scriptural Reasoning workshops – studying sacred texts alongside other faiths – and a lecture series entitled ‘The State We’re In’. She will also work with the Bradford Courts Chaplaincy service to provide mentoring for young offenders. Commenting on her role, Mrs Ali said: “I am very pleased, and excited, about my new job with the Cathedral. I see this as a great opportunity to bring together people from different faith communities in order to take an active role in shaping the society in which we live in a positive and constructive manner. “I hope it will give an opportunity to learn about each other, dispel misconceptions and lead to respect and acceptance of each other, including our differences!” Canon Chris Chivers of Blackburn Cathedral, which was the first to employ a Muslim, said: “There are always going to be people with extreme views who will have difficulties with this. However if you are firm and strong in your faith then what is the problem in talking to someone of a different faith? What are you going to lose?” Mrs Ali is 45, married to Maroof Shaffi and they have three teenage children.
If you have stumbled onto this blog and are not a Christian, get yourself a hot drink, pull up a comfy chair and then tuck into the following article written by one of the best in the business:- All Of Grace by Charles Spurgeon

http://blog.echurchwebsites.org.uk/2009/09...burn-cathedral/

(check out the star of david and the cross onhis site)
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09-23-2009, 08:19 PM,
#6
Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest
Sad. That is why the sidewalks walk two ways. If you don't like the conversation then just walk away. Eventually under disguise, TPTB will tell us what to think, believe, and how to act. Just a guess, religions today will be extinguished. I'll just bet they have one waiting for us all.
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09-23-2009, 08:33 PM,
#7
Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest
Quote:Sad. That is why the sidewalks walk two ways. If you don't like the conversation then just walk away. Eventually under disguise, TPTB will tell us what to think, believe, and how to act. Just a guess, religions today will be extinguished. I'll just bet they have one waiting for us all.

i thought the comment about the woman who repeatedly sought protection summed it up well. The agenda stinks.
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09-24-2009, 12:54 AM,
#8
Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest
True. Laws are passed that look good at first glance, but they aren't passed for people, just agendas. IMHO. Like the lady needing help and not getting it and the other lady abusing the system but the system bows to her.
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09-24-2009, 03:02 AM,
#9
Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest
Quote:True. Laws are passed that look good at first glance, but they aren't passed for people, just agendas. IMHO. Like the lady needing help and not getting it and the other lady abusing the system but the system bows to her.

Absoultely each case is just merit based assessmented on how much it fits in with current policy and legislation.
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09-27-2009, 04:45 PM, (This post was last modified: 09-27-2009, 04:47 PM by scaramanga667.)
#10
Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest
This is an example of what has been increasingly been pissing me off in recent years regarding the whole "nanny state" agenda. They're making it easier and more socially acceptable for people to have legal proceedings pressed against others merely for being a bit offended by another's opinion.

By extension, they're making it slowly slowly less and less acceptable for people to feel comfortable expressing their opinions in a public setting.

Seeing hundreds of people walking down the street purposely avoiding eye contact with each other makes me a little bit sad, when I was younger it was common for strangers to greet each other in the street and even have conversations with strangers in public spaces. I met many of my teenage and young adulthood friends that way.

Just a few weeks ago when I was in the computer parts shop ,shopping for a router, a woman standing 3 or 4 feet from me virtually exploded with apology for being that close to me. I just smiled and said no problem, about to attempt to engage her in a little light conversation while we were looking at things on the same shelf, but she put her head down and scurried away as if she'd upset a hive of killer bees.

I can understand the overblown emotional states people can get into regarding religious beliefs, but this situation described in the OP is just too ridiculous.


“I'm not from earth. I'm here on a research project. I'm preparing a paper on the psychosomatic ailments of pre-Apocalyptic condominium dwellers.”
-Sappho, Ash Ock

The Mushrooms once said to me "You must have a plan. If you don't have a plan, you will become part of someone else's plan."
-Terence McKenna
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09-27-2009, 06:17 PM, (This post was last modified: 09-27-2009, 06:18 PM by hilly7.)
#11
Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest
Quote:I can understand the overblown emotional states people can get into regarding religious beliefs, but this situation described in the OP is just too ridiculous.

I can that too. I believe those that do not stand for something will fall for anything. My thought is though, respect. There just isn't much of that these days. When you go in the home turf of another and your views change, respect and they should you as well. Me, I love to talk to people of other religions and enjoy learning about theirs. I'm happy with mine but curious about theirs. Some people can't do that and if they can't they should STFU. If I were that sensitive or unstable in my beliefs I would stick with those I have a common interest, not expect people to walk on eggshells. Even then, calling the government to make sure THEY protect you?

It's like here. Irregardless of the distant past, for the past 200 years we speak English. so no, I'm not learning Spanish unless I expect to move to a Spanish speaking country. Same with religion. If you move into a primarily Christian area, expect prayer in school and values of that primary belief to be prevalent. If you can't handle that, look to the next neighborhood. But don't expect everybody to change because it "offends" you. Here in the USA we have become the land of the offended and politically correct.As an old instructor once said in response to a woman's complaint about our language:blush:, "You don't go to a whore house for preaching".
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09-27-2009, 09:40 PM,
#12
Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest
This is kind of off the topic, but those Christian missionaries get annoying as hell (No offense to any Christians). Just yesterday one comes up, he's like, do you want to know the million dollar question? Already hearing this before several times, I said sure, hes like do you know if you are going to heaven 100%? I said no, do you? He said yes. I said what makes you so sure? "Because Jesus died for our sins!" "So you know for sure your going to heaven?" "Of course!" "Uh huh well see" lol.
[Image: Palestinian_Dawn_by_Palestinian_Pride.jpg]
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09-28-2009, 12:24 AM, (This post was last modified: 09-28-2009, 12:25 AM by hilly7.)
#13
Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest
None taken, lol. They get on my nerves too. You done better than I usually do. There was a guy once that said something like: good to see you working so hard. You know the Bible says man shall earn his living by the sweat of thew brow. Before I thought I said: did it mention the crack of my ass, damn it's hot.

My most recent (last week) was at a church. They wanted all the businesses to visit (looking for sponsors), they just neglected o say that. A lady from a graphics company asked my mom 5 times basically the same question, were we with the church, phrased a little different each time, but basically the same question. Mom kept the same answer that we were invited to tour all the renovations. Actually pushed to. She then sicked her on me, lol. 2 times she asked my affiliation and 2 times I told her none. I had already introduced myself, so she had already heard my name. The 3rd time she asked if I was BJ or the preacher. I pointed to BJ and said : That's BJ, he sells God. I'm Anthony, I sell Real Estate. My mom laughed, then stopped, then snickered, then stopped. Everybody looked at me and her funny, lol.
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09-28-2009, 02:19 AM,
#14
Christian hotel owners hauled before court after defending their beliefs in discussion with Muslim guest
Lmao:D
People tend to judge others when they think of themselves on top.
Another guy started threatening my brother, telling him he will go to hell unless he accepts Jesus (peace be upon him) as his lord and savior. Way to convert people lol.
[Image: Palestinian_Dawn_by_Palestinian_Pride.jpg]
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