A Bridgetown magistrate today administered a lesson in religious tolerance on a visiting preacher.
It came after Stephen Fran Bricknell, who is currently staying at #4 Club Morgan Ridge, Christ Church, pleaded guilty to refusing to leave the premises of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, having been directed to do so by Simon Emtage, a person authorized by the owner. Jared Pudney appeared in court yesterday on the same charge and also pleaded guilty.
According to prosecutor Sergeant Martin Rock, on January 18, 53-year-old Bricknell went with 33-year-old Pudney to the church where a private, invitation-only function was taking place. The two, who had been previously told they were not welcomed, caused a commotion when asked to leave. They had to be forcibly removed by church members who alerted the police.
“I went there to preach,” Bricknell told the police after he was detained. Today in the prisoner’s dock of the No. 1 District ‘A’ Criminal Court, he again tried to deliver his message.
He began by saying that in 1965, an Australian man named John Samuel Holmes came to Barbados after “the assembly of God” was mounted here in the 1800s. Bricknell added that in 1976, there was a separation, “. . . from the persons in Barbados because they followed the lead of a wicked man who blasphemed the humanity of the Lord Jesus”.
However, Magistrate Douglas Frederick grounded that sermon to a halt, informing Bricknell that the court would not be used in such a manner.
Frederick said while he understood Bricknell was following his beliefs, order must be maintained.
“Religious tolerance is important to Barbados; that’s why in Barbados you would find . . . we have the most churches per square mile and even rum shops next to churches, but they all exist in harmony,” Frederick told the man.
“If you are at right angles with their beliefs and you believe they are doing something wrong, you could probably tell them, but not by trespassing on their premises, not by harassing them . . . because we must have tolerance in this island,” the magistrate maintained.
However, Bricknell went on to quote scripture as he sought to explain his reasons for being at the #4 Neils, St Michael church.
“In Ezekiel Chapter 3, God [places] upon me to see someone who was righteous and has departed into evil . . . to draw their attention to that fact. Otherwise, if God had to judge that evil, I am guilty,” said Bricknell, who pointed out that the event on the day was not a religious one, neither was it an assembly meeting, as “none of the persons I saw had a Bible with them.”
“What I was trying to do is warn them that what they were doing violated the teaching of the very man whose books are on their bookshelves . . . [that] they claim to follow
. . . . That is what led me to that place on that day,” Bricknell stated.
The magistrate then informed Bricknell that now he had completed his mission, there was no reason for him to return to the church.
However, the preacher replied: “Except that I am certain that my message did not get to all of them and I would like to have the opportunity to at least preach the message to all.”
But Magistrate Frederick placed Bricknell on a six-month bond to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. If he breaches the order, he will spend one month at HMP Dodds.
He was also warned not to venture onto the church’s premises or the residences of its members, and not to harass them in any way.