Defending the Right to Preach

Steven Brown is a street preacher in Vancouver, BC. He regularly and peacefully shares the Gospel of the Bible on the streets of Vancouver, refusing to impede members of the public, block passageways, or indeed, to engage in anything other than the preaching of the Gospel message to those who may listen. Steven is unaware of any legal demands he has not adhered to or of any laws he has broken.

Despite this, along with some other street preachers, Steven was charged with mischief and causing a disturbance for simply continuing to share a Biblical message on Vancouver streets. This case affects every Canadian who believes that no one should be punished for the simple exercise of the Charter rights to freedom of expression and religion.

Freedoms Advocate supported Psator Brown in defending against these charges.

Important Case Update – November 16, 2022

During the summer of 2020, the City of Vancouver and Vancouver Police Department received multiple complaints about street preachers in the City. Complainants said the street preachers were too loud, “homophobic,” “offensive,” and “distressing.” A City Councilor said that she supported the LGBTQ’s upset about the activity of the street preachers while former Mayor Stewart tweeted that, “The anti-2SLGBTQ+ preaching that has been occurring in the Davie Village is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. I’m hearing from the community and working to put in place policies to address the harm that has been caused. Hate has no place in Vancouver” also tweeting, “I’m consulting with the 2SLGBTQ+ community and with the Attorney General of BC to put in place policies to address the harm and violence caused by the reprehensible anti-2SLGBTQ+ preacher and his associates.”

The City and the Police Department drafted reports and memos which concluded that there was absolutely nothing illegal about the activities of the street preachers and instead that their activities were protected by the Charter.

Nevertheless, contrary to the reports, the police charged them anyway in the summer of 2021. Further, the police charged them for an entire nine-month period prior to the actual charges of mischief and cause disturbance.

For a year and a half, lawyer Carol Crosson, with support from the Freedoms Advocate, defended Steven Brown, the last street preacher left standing, set to go to trial December 12-15 in Vancouver. The Crown stayed the charges against Steven Brown!

Carol Crosson filed a Charter application against the Crown on behalf of Steven Brown on Charter violations and Crown misconduct, including the fact that there were no reasonable and probable grounds to arrest and charge Brown and that the crown had an ulterior motive for prosecuting the matter. Brown also encountered a violation of his rights to freedom of religion and freedom of expression.

This matter is strikingly similar to the charges that occurred three years ago against street preacher David Lynn in Toronto, whom Crosson also defended. In one of the reports from the Vancouver Police Department, it was recognized that Pastor Lynn simply preaching from the Bible on Toronto City streets had been protected by the Charter, then concluding that charging these street preachers would have placed the Vancouver Police Department officers in direct conflict with the Charter. Pastor Lynn’s charges were also pulled just before trial.

Freedoms Advocate has supported the ongoing fight for religious freedoms all across the country. Your encouragement and financial support have made that all possible.

Together, we can help people of faith stand strong and force government to honour the religious freedoms granted by our Charter. In fact, our Charter begins with this statement subjecting all following statements this principle:

“Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law…”

The financial requirements to fight these cases is considerable. If we don’t fight for our freedoms, history has taught us, we will lose them. We are grateful for your donations to support our important work.

Read an article on the case here.