When Praying Becomes “Disorderly Conduct”

Inside the Issues with Alan Sears

At first glance, what Julian Raven and his friends saw that day in the park in downtown Elmira, New York, doesn’t seem all that unusual. After all, when it comes to public celebrations of homosexual behavior, a lot of Christians – maybe most Christians – like to just close their eyes and hope it will all go away.

Publicity aside, these events aren’t really about tolerance. More often, they are a vivid expression of what homosexual behavior really is, and of the moral destruction that behavior brings to a community that promotes it and the physical destruction it brings to those who practice it. It’s sin, on full display, and like any sin, brought out into the open, it isn’t pretty.

But it is politically correct, and so it’s pretty much par for the course now in many of our largest American cities to give those who practice this behavior high profile opportunities to flaunt it and compel the general citizenry to not only acknowledge, but embrace deviancy.

A lot of Christians don’t know what to do with that – some are embarrassed, some outraged, some confused by their own affections for family members or friends who have themselves embraced homosexual behavior. So, they just look the other way, and even pretend that homosexual behavior is “another way of loving,” and maybe not as harmful to bodies and souls as some folks seem to think.

Julian Raven knew better. With his wife, Gloria, and several friends, he went to the local park where this particular event was happening, and walked in with his head bowed. He wasn’t closing his eyes to something he didn’t want to see – he was praying. He prayed for these lost souls and hurting hearts. He quietly made his way with the others to an area near the main stage, and lay face down on the grass, to pray for those participating in the event around him.

His intercessions were not appreciated. Though promotion for the event made it clear that it was open to everyone, a police sergeant had stopped the Ravens and their friends before they even stepped into the park, telling them they couldn’t go in (to a public park), they couldn’t walk through the (public) area, and they couldn’t talk with anyone in the park about their faith (First Amendment protections notwithstanding).

When Julian and the others walked in anyway, and then lay down to pray, they were arrested and charged with “disorderly conduct.” Seeming to find the conduct that surrounded these prayer warriors irrelevant, an Elmira City Court found all four defendants guilty of disorderly conduct, and each was fined and ordered to pay court costs.

In February, a New York county court dismissed the convictions of three of those arrested with Julian. Now, Alliance Defense Fund attorneys, working with local allied attorney Laurence Behr of Buffalo, have submitted an application to appeal Julian’s conviction.  The status of that appeal is now in the hands of state’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals.

“The county court was correct in dismissing three of the convictions,” says ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster. “They never should have happened.  We are hopeful that the New York Court of Appeals will dismiss the fourth. Christians shouldn’t be punished for praying peacefully in public or for peacefully expressing their religious beliefs.”

Please be in prayer for Julian’s case, and for all those across America who are ensnared in homosexual culture, beliefs, and behavior.

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