A military veteran in the United Kingdom is being criminally charged by authorities in Bournemouth, England, for silently praying.
Adam Smith-Connor explained that he is remorseful for paying for an ex-girlfriend to have an abortion and said that he prays for the unborn son he lost and those thinking about getting an abortion. Connor does not carry a sign or pray out loud but silently stands there.
However, because he was in a “buffer zone” and was found “praying for his deceased son,” authorities are criminally charging him.
“It is unfathomable that in an apparently free society, I am being criminally charged on the basis of what I expressed silently, in the privacy of my own mind,” Smith-Connor said.
” I served for 20 years in the army reserves, including a tour in Afghanistan, to protect the fundamental freedoms that this country is built upon. I continue that spirit of service as a health care professional and church volunteer. It troubles me greatly to see our freedoms eroded to the extent that thought crimes are now being prosecuted in the U.K.,” he said.
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Bournemouth’s “buffer zone” covers roughly six streets around the British Pregnancy Advice Service clinic and is enforced 12 hours a day. According to a local report, the evidence used by the local governing body to prove that the zones are necessary include praying, sometimes while kneeling, holding rosaries, sprinkling Holy Water on the pavement outside the clinic and handing out informational leaflets about abortion.
Legal counsel representing Connor said Bournemouth is playing games with the veteran as well. The Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole Council (BCP) is required to notify a violator of a summons as soon as possible. However, that did not happen, Connor was arrested on May 12, 2023 and did not hear from the BCP until July 19, 2023.
Jeremiah Igunnubole, legal counsel for ADF UK, described what is happened to Smith-Connor as a “staggering U-turn.”
“In permitting the prosecution of silent prayer, we are sailing into dangerous waters regarding human rights protections in the U.K.,” said Igunnubole. “Censorship zones are inherently wrong and engender unhelpful legal confusion regarding the status of silent prayer. Both domestic and international law have long established freedom of thought as an absolute right that must not ever be interfered with by the state.”
Ingunnbole says so far, the police and the courts have “made it clear that silent prayer is not a criminal act.”
“And yet, BCP Council has introduced a rights-restricting censorship zone, which they now argue extends to a ban on silent prayer. The zone was created by the Council, enforced by the Council and now also prosecuted by the Council. This is a remarkable consolidation of power, making the council the judge, jury, and executioner,” he said.