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American evangelist jailed in Glasgow

Shawn Holes, one of a team of around 20 American street preachers was arrested in Glasgow on charges relating to breach of the peace, sectarianism and homophobia. In response to the alternatives of being freed quickly or spending many weeks in Scotland awaiting trial he plead guilty and was fined the maximum of £1000.

Front page of the Daily Mail, Saturday 27 March, 2010

Shawn HolesAN American street evangelist was arrested in Glasgow just over a week ago, charged with breach of the peace, sectarianism and uttering homophobic remarks. Shawn Holes was travelling and preaching with a team of around 12 American friends in cities throughout the mainland UK and in Ireland.

Whilst preaching publicly in Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow on Thursday 18 March,  he was surrounded by a group of people who asked him his views on Islam and homosexuality. In the course of responding to the questions put to him he said that homosexuality was a sin; and that everyone was a sinner.
Two police officers then took the views of persons in the crowd. Holes was then approached by the officers who said that they had had complaints and, after questioning him, they took the evangelist into custody. 

The American Baptist then spent the night in jail and was brought before the court the next day. The legal advice given to him was that he would have a ‘pretty good chance’ of escaping a conviction. However he was also advised that if he plead not guilty then the process of the case being heard might take eight weeks or so, during which time he would have to stay in Scotland. It was explained to him that the other option was to plead guilty, in which case he would probably be fined around £50 and then released. In the event Holes plead guilty to the charges as his family was back in American, he had a father there who was ill and his daughter is to be married in the summer .

Shawn Holes and family prior to him coming to the UK

Shawn and Family

The Daily Mail carried the story on the newspaper's front page which continued on almost a full page within.


The editorial in the same edition of the paper gave the view: "Extremely serious issues are raised by the case of Shawn Holes, the Baptist street preacher fined £1,000 for uttering 'homophobic and sectarian remarks' while preaching in Glasgow. Mr Holes was questioned by homosexuals about his beliefs regarding homosexuality and Islam."

 Commenting futher on the case the piece asked: "Are Christians now required to deny their faith, as in Nero's Rome, under laws passed by Holyrood? Would a Muslim preacher have been treated in the same fashion for expressing disbelief in Christ?" In calling for a review of the current legislation, the editorial concluded: ' the longer term [we need] a critical reappraisal of the whole 'hate crime' concept".


A video of the recent UK outreach tour which Shawn Holes and his colleagues conducted



Subsequent comments on the case


Since the incident there have been a variety of responses on blogs from Christians on both sides of the Atlantic.


Scottish comments have ranged from appreciation of the Americans coming to Scotland to preach the Gospel, to heavy criticism of having created a very dangerous precedent (by pleading ‘guilty’) and leaving a mess behind for Scottish Christians to deal with.


Kevin Williams has expressed himself: 

Shawn I love you, you know that but I think you (and anyone who advised you to take this action) have done very wrong in pleading guilty.
1) The police will now realize that they can do this to any Christians who preach there, and so this will encourage police to be hostile against the Gospel there in the future.
2) The unbelieveing public of groups hostile to the Gospel will now realize they can now get Christians arrested and heavily fined, and so this will encourage them to cause trouble.
3) Pleading guilty in this case is bearing false witness.
4) Enemies of the cross now have Christians admitting they hate homosexuals, and Catholics.
This is heart breaking news, and has caused massive problems for the preaching of the Gospel in Glasgow and who knows else where.
I wish I could have been there to help give counsel. I would have come up but to be honest this course of action in pleading guilty was totally unexpected and unthinkable.
But remember His blood is sufficient and His love for you does not change

Colin Bissett has written: 

We Christians in Scotland preach Christ, we are not foolish enough to be drawn into arguments by those who oppose God on their own terms. Clearly the way that the Lord dealt with the parties who questioned him in Mark 11:27-12:41 is an example of the wisdom that is obviously lacking in the present case. Please do your homework before coming back to this country.
The commission of Christ is not to preach against homosexuality or any other sin you might choose to single out. Preach Christ and Him Crucified. The cross condemns all sin, of every hue. Quote the Scriptures rather than offer your own opinions.
Pleading guilty was a thoroughly stupid thing to do.I can’t think how, having provoked this situation you could have done anything to make it worse than you have. I deplore the fact that you are unwilling to make a stand for your convictions and have simply cut and run and left others to pay your fine (2 Cor. 11:9).
I say that not only as a Christian but as a lawyer who practices in our courts and feels that a dangerous precedent has now been set.
I can assure you that in 12 years of preaching Christ in the open streets while I may have had things thrown at me, dogs attacking me and abuse offered (and ignored) I have yet to be arrested.

A UK colleague of Holes (called Rob) has commented on the situations as they preached in Edinburgh, Stirling and Glasgow: 

Hello I was one of the brothers preaching with Shawn in Scotland . The minute we got there we encounter harassment from the police . It was like they never saw a street preacher before exercising his freedom of speech. Day after day in Glasgow only. We were harassed. We preached in Stirling and Edinburgh we had no problems preaching the gospel . We went back to Glasgow after preaching in Edinburgh on St. Patrick’s day . As soon as we got a crowd, the police where there . I look and I see the same guy calling the police a couple of days earlier .


The police took his statement shortly after they took Shawn to jail . The problem is Glasgow police had a bias toward us preaching the gospel it was obvious . We had lots of great conversation in Glasgow alongside the open air preaching . The gospel went forward not one person walk away from us thinking he was going to heaven because he was a good person . The whole counsel of God was preached .I would like to encourage my brothers in Christ that live in Scotland to pick up where we left off and preach the gospel in Glasgow. I pray God raises up teams to go out there and preach the gospel and warn people about the lie of Islam and homosexuality. When we were waiting for Shawn to get out of jail after we paid the fine. Me and some other brothers went back and preached in Glasgow and warn people about Islam and homosexuality . I would suggest you round up all the churches and head out there and preach the Gospel . Make a stand set the ground work for the next preacher .That is my prayer.

A blog respondent going by the name 'McMurdo' wrote: 


Heard you on Wretched Radio and from your account, you did not come across as condemning or unloving. I think some people were bringing the subject up to make mischief for you, knowing that the Police in the UK will *always* investigate allegations of ‘homophobia’.

I think people are being too critical here. I am deeply touched that our brother loves our country enough to leave his country and his family to bring the Gospel to the UK. As for the circumstances surrounding the arrest and the ‘guilty’ plea, I am just not worried. The Lord will use this for His glory. I am just thrilled that thousands of lost people have heard the gospel, received tracts and New Testaments. The result of this will only be known in eternity. I for one would not want to be kept away from my family for 2 months awaiting trial.

I am reminded of the situation the Salvation Army faced in their early years when they were preaching the gospel in the UK. They had all sorts of harassment from the police and local magistrates for preaching in the open air. They spent many nights in jail and some of their number were even martyred. Read ‘The General Next to God’.
I want to finish by saying 3 things.


1. Brother Shaun thank you SO MUCH for coming to the UK. I for one appreciate what you did and one day I hope I meet you one day and shake your hand and thank you face to face.

2. I want to apologise on behalf of my country for the way you were treated. I am English, my wife and her family are Scottish, from the Glasgow area, and I am ashamed of the way you were treated by the authorities. We Brits owe you Americans a great debt for the spiritual blessings you bring us.


 3. Please don’t be put off from coming here again. Of course we all need to be wise, gentle, loving and so on. **And** we need to preach the gospel boldly and clearly as Jesus commands. The same goes for anyone in the US who has the right motives.



Shawn Holes leaving the court in Glasgow

Shawn leaving court

Comment: Whatever the longer term or more widespread ramifications of this incident it is yet another example of a country (Scotland and the UK) which is  increasingly hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Word of God. It is difficult to see anything other than increasing judgment come upon us.


The natural response to this incident might be that of an angry reaction or, alternatively, to feel intimidated and fearful. However the Lord of the church would surely have us behave in a mature yet fearless manner.




Footnote: The response facility below is open for further comment, however it is advisable to listen to interviews with both Shawn Holes and one of his colleagues to appreciate the background and further details surrounding the case. The evangelists filmed their work: however the video film was confiscated by the police.


Shawn Holes interview  (35 mins)        Colleague of Holes (Robert) giving background information (6 mins)


Both of these interviews are well worth listening to.



See here other reports about difficulties faced by other street outreach activies.

Christians Together, 28/03/2010

(page   1   2   3   4) (Guest) 05/04/2010 10:28
I am Pastor Elijah Sebuchu,Senior Pastor of Kampala International Christian Centre(KICC).
I really thank God for people like Shaun who are ready to sacrifice their lives and comfort to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is very much required now than ever before.

Wether brother Shaun pleaded guilty or not is not the main issue here. The main thing here is that he was obedient enough to the call of God to go into all the nations and preach the Gospel.
Welcome to Uganda.
Peter Carr 05/04/2010 17:28
Hi Elijah, how does this story compare with suffering for Christ in your part of the world?
Miguel Hayworth (Guest) 12/04/2010 16:18
Praise God that their are their are people who are not intimerdated at the face of arrest and prosicution

I to have been arrested but I have not been charged.

but be encouraged, when things like this happen amazing results occure.

Editor 10/05/2010 17:59
A Christian street preacher in Workington was arrested and locked up following an exchange with a gay Police Community Support Officer.
Police officers are alleging that he made the remark in a voice loud enough to be overheard by others and have charged him with using abusive or insulting language, contrary to the Public Order Act.
See full story -
W Benn (Guest) 16/05/2010 18:17
The situation is somewhat different in the States in that it is the largely unrepresented none believers against the power of various very powerful and wealthy religious organisations.Those non believers are more or less unorganised and politically under represented. Whatever the nature of incidents over here - some perhaps involving under educated and inexperienced policemen,the Christians this side of the pond still enjoy a degree of political power that is not justified by their numbers.The times we live in are exciting.
Retards (Guest) 26/05/2010 01:26
The photograph of Shawn and his cohort wouldn't look amiss on the back of an album by Manic Street Preachers to be honest. Then, I suppose that is to be expected. It is awful that you people think you have the right to tell others how they should live their lives; and the kind of hatred you are attempting to spread across the world leaves me cold.
John Parker (Guest) 26/05/2010 09:27
Retards, with all due respect the core message (Good News) of Jesus is contained in a verse which says: God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

God also loves us so much that he has giving us a framework for healthy living - as individuals and as a society.
Peter Carr 26/05/2010 13:08
Retards said, "It is awful that you people think you have the right to tell others how they should live their lives; and the kind of hatred you are attempting to spread across the world leaves me cold."



Christians are only messangers of the One that we will all have to stand before one day!

Romans 1:18-32 (New International Version)

God's Wrath Against Mankind

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

John Parker (Guest) 05/02/2012 19:50
At the time of the visit to Glasgow of the American evangelist DL Moody in 1875 it has been written -

let us recall that on the final Lord’s Day of the Moody campaign at this date the Great Western Road in Glasgow was ‘black for three hours with a living stream of all sorts and conditions of men and women, mostly on foot’37.

Moody preached in the Glasgow Botanic Gardens ‘from a box of a carriage to a crowd estimated at twenty or thirty thousand…the singing was unforgettable…it all appeared amazing’
Joanne (Guest) 14/02/2014 00:11
John Parker,you may not like what these Christians said,but that doesn't warrant them being put in jail.Also,the man who was arrested was asked his opinion and gave it.

I am not religious but I will stand by anyone to have the right to their opinion.There is no such thing as freedom of peace.
(page   1   2   3   4)

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