Fined for preaching in public

IF you feel like preaching in public or reading the Good Book loudly to the populace, don't do it in Coffs Harbour's City Square.

They won't make you a martyr but they could kill your bank account.

Young preacher Micah Nagle is $440 poorer after being fined $220 by a Coffs Harbour City Council ranger and a further $220 by Coffs Harbour Police on Monday morning.

The 21-year-old Melbourne man's crime was reading the Bible aloud in City Square, talking about the relevance of the life of Christ to people today and refusing to be silenced and move on.

“I was simply addressing my faith to others, I wasn't holding a meeting or busking or asking for money,” Mr Nagle said.

“That's not a good enough reason to put someone in the lock-up, it's religious discrimination.

“The way politicians talk to each other is obscene – the way I preach good news upholds the values of society but is found an offence.

“I'm not hurting anyone.”

Mr Nagle, who said he spent more than an hour in a locked room in the police station after being removed from the Square in a paddy wagon, said his treatment breached his fundamental right to freedom of speech as well as the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Australian constitution.

A spokesperson for Coffs Harbour City Council said the penalty was imposed “after a ranger responded to a number of complaints from businesses in Harbour Drive regarding Mr Nagle's actions.”

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