Christians for Economic Justice

Previously called Christianity Uncut

Police try to stop Christian worship outside London arms fair

The following news release was issued on the evening of Sunday 8 September.

Police try to stop Christian worship outside London arms fair

Dozens of Christians today took part in prayers and and an act of exorcism on the road to the London arms fair, despite three attempts by police to stop the act of worship going ahead.

Three Church of England priests peacefully led dozens of worshippers into the road on the eastern approach to the Excel Centre in east London, where the arms fair, known formally as Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEi), is due to being on Tuesday 10 September. Equipment, including weapons, was being transported into the venue today.

Police tried to stop the three priests – Rev Chris Howson, Rev Dr Keith Hebden and Rev Helen Hayes – from walking into the road. As they calmly walked on, worshippers knelt down in the road.

DSEi 2013 exorcism 1Police try to stop Rev Dr Keith Hebden continuing with the exorcism.
Photo by Lizzie Gawen

Together they prayed for Jesus’ victory over “the spirits of militarism and violence” and asked God’s forgiveness for tolerating the arms trade.

The police formed a close circle around the worshippers and twice threatened them with arrest if they did not leave, despite the act of worship taking only around 15 minutes.

Many non-Christian protesters came to express their support, cheered and participated in sharing the peace at the end of the event. Several worshippers also tried to share the peace with police officers.

The event was organised by anti-capitalist network Christianity Uncut, with the support of members of Christian CND, the Student Christian Movement (SCM), the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Christian Network of the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

Earlier in the day, police arrested a member of the co-ordinating group of Christianity Uncut, Siobhan Grimes. She had joined others in peacefully sitting in the road to prevent arms-related equipment being taken into the Excel Centre. She has been charged with obstructing a highway and will appear in court on 4 November.

DSEi 2013 exorcism 2Rev Chris Howson leads prayer as police look on.
Photo by Lizzie Gawen.

During the act of worship, Rev Chris Howson, a priest in Sunderland, said:

“Sisters and brothers, we gather to exorcise the demons of Militarism and Violence: To call an end to the evil horrors of the arms trade and to caste out the spirit of warfare and barbarism from this place. We remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the continuing global arms race, the failure of the nuclear powers to observe their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the polluted earth, the world governed by fear instead of justice, the futility of deterrence, the waste of public money.”

Symon Hill, a member of Christianity Uncut who knelt in the road to participate in the act of worship, said afterwards:

“This was a very moving and spiritually deep experience. Jesus’ exorcisms challenged the powers of his day, drew links between personal suffering and wider injustices and liberated the people involved. Today we witnessed to God’s power, the power of love and justice, in the midst of an event dedicated to the idols of money and military might.”


The full text of the liturgy used during the act of worship can be read at  


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11 thoughts on “Police try to stop Christian worship outside London arms fair

  1. mikebossingham on said:

    Is it still an offence to try to prevent Anglican clergy from preaching? If so action should be taken


  2. David Barry on said:

    Shame on the police force.


  3. Reblogged this on Partakers WOW Disciple… and commented:
    I thought there was freedom of religion in the UK?


  4. Pingback:

  5. Benedict Atkins on said:

    We’re tolerant of everything except for those who are intolerant of things.


  6. Pingback: British government welcomes dictatorships at London arms fair | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Presumably the olice stopped them for wearing white vestments in ordinary time?


  8. Pingback: Key Event for the International Arms Trade: WMD For Sale at the London’s Arms Fair

  9. Pingback: What’s your poison? London Arms Fair disrupted by Occupy.

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