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Video: Veteran charged for prayer ‘thoughtcrime’

Flag of the United Kingdom (Unsplash)
November 10, 2023

Former British Army Reservist Adam Smith-Connor is preparing to face criminal charges next week for committing “thoughtcrimes” while quietly praying near an abortion clinic location in the U.K. last November.

Body camera footage from last November allegedly shows British police approaching Smith-Connor and questioning the “nature” of his prayers near the British Pregnancy Advisory Service abortion clinic in Bournemouth, England. When Smith-Connor answered that he was praying for his dead son and for people making decisions about abortions, he was given a notice with a penalty fine of £100.

According to The Daily Mail, Smith-Connor’s fine allegedly said that the British Army veteran was being charged for “praying for his deceased son” due to a Public Spaces Protection Order. In the video footage, the British police claimed that Smith-Connor was in violation of a Public Spaces Protection Order due to praying near the abortion clinic.

In a Thursday press release by ADF UK, a faith-based legal advocacy organization that works to uphold individual freedoms, Smith-Connor warned, “You might think this is a story from Orwell’s 1984 – but in fact, this is happening in England in 2023. ‘Thoughtcrimes’ shouldn’t be prosecuted in the U.K.”

Smith Connor explained that as a British Army reservist for twenty years, he fought to uphold Britain’s rich history of “human rights” and the freedoms of the nation. However, he warned that the U.K. is in danger of “dismantling the values” that British soldiers have died for.

“Now my own freedom of thought is in jeopardy,” he added. “How can we send our troops out to potentially make the ultimate sacrifice, when back home police are arresting people for peacefully practising their faith and offering charitable support to families in crisis?” 

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According to ADF UK, Smith-Connor pleaded “not guilty” to violating the “buffer zone” Public Spaces Protection Order during his first court hearing in August. The ADF UK noted that the Public Spaces Protection Order prohibits the “expression of approval or disapproval” of abortion, including through the expression of prayer.

However, Smith-Connor’s legal team has argued that the British veteran did not express any opinion on abortion by merely praying in his head. As a result, Smith-Connor’s legal team has claimed that the veteran’s prosecution stands in violation of the foundational right to freedom of thought.

“Adam is one of several individuals who have faced a penalty for their ‘thoughtcrimes’ on the streets of the U.K. this year,” Jeremiah Igunnubole, ADF UK legal counsel, stated in Thursday’s press release. “This simply shouldn’t be happening in a democratic society – all should be free to hold their own beliefs in the privacy of their own minds, including reflections about their own experiences of abortion.” 

Igunnubole argued that if the British veteran had been “thinking” about any issue other than abortion, such as climate change, the police would not have brought charges against him.

“In permitting the prosecution of silent prayer, we are sailing into dangerous waters regarding human rights protections in the U.K.,” he added. “Censorship zones are inherently wrong and create unhelpful legal confusion regarding the right to think freely. Both domestic and international law have long established freedom of thought as an absolute right that must never be interfered with by the state.”

Smith-Connor’s next court hearing is currently scheduled for Nov. 16 at Poole Magistrates’ Court, according to The Daily Wire.