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Archive for June, 2010

10-Year-Old Boy Used as Grand Marshal of Arkansas Homosexual Fest

Posted by faithandthelaw on June 30, 2010

By Kathleen Gilbert

FAYETTEVILLE, Arkansas, June 25, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A 10-year-old boy is being used as Grand Marshal of an Arkansas homosexual pride parade this weekend. The move has attracted opposition from pro-family leaders, who have decried the movement’s exposure of the boy to the lewd festival of sexual deviancy as “a form of child abuse.”

The boy, Will Phillips, attracted national media attention last year after he refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance at school, saying that homosexuals are refused “liberty and justice” because the government defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

Phillips, who later accepted a Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Award on behalf of his CNN interviewer, complained that he was harassed at school for his views. The claim prompted Comedy Central host Jon Stewart to hire professional wrestler Mick Foley as Phillips’ bodyguard at the media award event. Foley warned: “If I find out that anybody has hassled this young man or teased him or called him a wad of any sort, I and perhaps a few of my friends will come to his school and bring a world of pain.”

But pro-family leaders say that the homosexual lobby is the true bully for flaunting the boy at the head of a homosexual pride parade – which are renowned for their lewd displays of transvestitism, sado-masochism, and other sexual deviations.

“It’s shameful that adults would abuse a brain-washed child in this way,” said American Family Association president Tim Wildmon. “He’s obviously just parroting the nonsense he’s been told by manipulative adults. For gay activists to trot out this child and make him the poster child for promoting unnatural sexual expression is a form of child abuse.”

The use of the child media darling has attracted opposition to the normally low-key event from across the country. Mayor Lionel Jordan, who plans to deliver the city’s endorsement to the event Saturday, says he has received over 300 emails urging him to withdraw support as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the Fayetteville Flyer.

Pictures and video posted on the Northwest Arkansas Gay Pride Parade’s website show typical displays of sexual deviancy common in such parades, like men flamboyantly dressed in provocative drag.
 

 

Brian Camenker, the leader of MassResistance, a pro-family group in Massachusetts, told LifeSiteNews.com that saying Phillips is being “indoctrinated” is “not a strong enough word.”

“They are taking these kids who are in a very vulnerable and formative time in their lives, and basically telling them they’re gay or what have you,” he said, adding that “the kinds of things that go on in these parades … are just really gross and hideous.”

“Transexual, S&M, they’re getting more into young kids,” he said.

Camenker related the story of a MassResistance volunteer whose daughter similarly drew media attention when, after being pressured by the gay-straight alliance at her high school, declared that “she’s a lesbian, hates her mother and father, [and] has this lesbian girlfriend.”

“The gay newspapers of course wrote it up, because she was involved with us, and they were inviting her to be involved with the gay pride parade … even the Boston Globe called her up to interview her,” he said. Things changed, however, when the girl’s mother removed her from the school and sent her to an out-of-state Christian school. The girl is now preparing to marry her male fiancé in August, and, according to Camenker, dismisses her youthful flirtation with lesbianism.

“She wasn’t lesbian any more than I was a lesbian,” he said. “I think that happens with a lot of kids. So this is really dangerous.”

Courtesy of http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2010/jun/10062511.html

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High Court Rules Against Christian Student Group

Posted by faithandthelaw on June 30, 2010

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the rights of a California public law school to deny recognition to a national Christian student organization because that organization’s beliefs violate the school’s policy on nondiscrimination.

In the 5-4 opinion, the Court upheld the lower court rulings in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, saying the group’s (student chapter of the Christian Legal Society) First Amendment rights were not violated by the San Francisco based school’s decision.  The Court concluded that public universities may override a religious student group’s right to determine its leadership only if it denies that right to all student groups.

The suit was filed in 2004 after the law school refused to recognize the CLS chapter because the group requires all of its officers and voting members to agree with its basic Christian beliefs.  The chapter sought funding and formal recognition from the school.

“In requiring CLS — in common with all other student organizations — to choose between welcoming all students and forgoing the benefits of official recognition, we hold, Hastings [College of the Law] did not transgress constitutional limitations,” said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote the majority opinion for the Court’s liberals and moderate Anthony Kennedy. “CLS, it bears emphasis, seeks not parity with other organizations, but a preferential exemption from Hastings’ policy.”

Justice Samuel Alito wrote a strong dissent that said the opinion was “a serious setback for freedom of expression in this country.”

“Our proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom of express ‘the thought that we hate,’” Alito said. “Today’s decision rests on a very different principle: no freedom of expression that offends prevailing standards of political correctness in our country’s institutions of higher learning.”

Alito writes:

“Our First Amendment reflects a ‘profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open.’ New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U. S. 254, 270 (1964). Even if the United States is the only Nation that shares this commitment to the same extent, I would not change our law to conform to the international norm. I fear that the Court’s decision marks a turn in that direction. Even those who find CLS’s views objectionable should be concerned about the way the group has been treated – by Hastings, the Court of Appeals, and now this Court. I can only hope that this decision will turn out to be an aberration.”

“Brushing aside inconvenient precedent, the Court arms public educational institutions with a handy weapon for suppressing the speech of unpopular groups—groups to which, as Hastings candidly puts it, these institutions ‘do not wish to … lend their name[s].’ … I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that today’s decision is a serious setback for freedom of expression in this country,” wrote Justice Alito.

The dissent argued that the Court should focus on the school’s non-discrimination policy which was originally invoked to deny CLS recognition.  According to the dissent, that policy amounts to discrimination since only religious groups are required to admit students who do not share their views, whereas political groups, like the Democratic Caucus, and other groups  can put limits and requirements on membership.

In a statement, the American Center for Law and Justice said that they “are hopeful that this decision by the high court will be an’ aberration’ – as Justice Alito put it – and not a shift in First Amendment jurisprudence.  Time will tell.”

Hastings is accused by some of using a double standard when it comes to setting its open-access policy on religion versus other groups.

“All college students, including religious students, should have the right to form groups around shared beliefs without being banished from campus,” said senior counsel Kim Colby with the CLS Center for Law & Religious Freedom in a statement.

Alliance Defense Fund’s Senior Legal Counsel, Gregory S. Baylor, said the Court’s decision “doesn’t settle the core constitutional issue of whether nondiscrimination policies in general can force religious student groups to allow non-believers to lead their groups.”

“The Hastings policy actually requires CLS to allow atheists to lead its Bible studies and the College Democrats to accept the election of Republican officers in order for the groups to be recognized on campus,” said Baylor. “We agree with Justice Alito in his dissent that the court should have rejected this as absurd.”

Hastings rejected CLS’s application for formal recognition on the ground that the group’s bylaws did not comply with Hastings’ open-access policy because they excluded students based on religion and sexual orientation – something outlined in CLS’s bylaws. Yet, while rejecting CLS, and perhaps to the dismay of Justice Ginsburg, the school has formally recognized many other groups whose bylaws provide that their officers and voting members must agree with their groups’ missions and viewpoints:

Silenced Right has a policy that says: “So long as individuals are committed to the goals set out by the leadership, they are welcome to participate and vote in Silenced Right elections.”

Hastings Democratic Caucus mandates that: “any full-time student at Hastings may become a member . . . so long as they do not exhibit consistent disregard and lack of respect for the objective of the organization.”

Outlaw’s constitution states that officers may be removed for: “working against the spirit of the organization’s goals and objectives.”

The Vietnamese American Law Society provides membership to any Hastings student: “so long as they do not exhibit a consistent disregard and lack of respect for the objective of the organization.”

The Association of Trial Lawyers of America says members must: “adhere to the objectives of the Student Chapter as well as the mission of ATLA.”

The Hastings Motorcycle Riders Club expects members to “own or ride a motorcycle or scooter, or ha[ve] an interest in such activities.

Students wishing to join CLS must sign a bylaw (Statement of Faith) that simply recognizes Christian principles – that “the Bible as the inspired word of God” and officers will “abstain from acts of the sinful nature.”

Twenty-two friend-of-the-court briefs were filed with the Supreme Court in support of the Christian Legal Society student chapter, including a brief filed by 14 state attorneys general.  On April 19, lead counsel Michael W. McConnell, director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution argued before the Court on behalf of the CLS chapter.

Courtesy of http://www.christianlawjournal.com/featured-articles/christian-student-group-must-allow-members-who-disagree-with-their-statement-of-faith/

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Michigan Arab Festival Held To Higher Reverence Than First Amendment?

Posted by faithandthelaw on June 30, 2010

 

The arrests of four Christians at the Dearborn Arab International Festival by police officers is being called by some, an enforcement of Shariah law – the radical Islamic legal system.

On June 18, four Christian missionaries who never handed out any literature or engaged in unwanted conversation, were arrested for “disorderly conduct,” according to Police Chief Ron Haddad.

The mere presence of the Christians allegedly caused several Muslims to heckle and cause a scene, including shouting expletives and others, “Allahu akbar!”

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Thomas More Law Center, the organization representing the four Christians said that “Contrary to the comments made by Police Chief Ron Haddad, our Constitution does not allow police to ban the right of free speech just because there are some hecklers.  Not all police officers approve of the way their department treated these Christians.”

Dearborn Police Chief Ron Haddad said they made four arrests for “disorderly conduct,” because they caused “a stir.”

On June 19, the missionaries attempted to peacefully distribute copies of the Gospel of John outside the entrance to the Arab festival.  Within three minutes, the Christians were surrounded by eight Dearborn police officers and ordered to cease and desist.  They were all immediately arrested and their video cameras seized which were recording the events surrounding their arrests.

Negeen Mayel, Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, Paul Rezkalla, and David Wood were arrested on charges of Breach of Peace.  Mayel, an eighteen year old female, whose parents emigrated from Afghanistan and a recent convert from Islam to Christianity, was approximately 100 feet away and quietly videotaping a discussion with some Muslims when her camera was seized.  She was also charged with failure to obey a police officer’s orders.

These Christian missionaries were exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech and the free exercise of religion, but apparently the Constitution carries little weight in Dearborn, where the Muslim population seems to dominate the political apparatus,” said Thompson. “It’s apparent that these arrests were a retaliatory action over the embarrassing video of the strong arm tactics used last year by Festival Security Guards.  This time, the first thing police officers did before making the arrests was to confiscate the video cameras in order to prevent a recording of what was actually happening.”

During the 2009 Dearborn Arab International Festival, the group of four were arrested by police after they were falsely accused by attendees and festival security for disorderly conduct.

Dearborn Police Department has apparently made it a policy to prohibit Christians from attempting to speak freely or distribute any information within “five blocks” of the Muslim festival.

In an unrelated case, on June 17, a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order, allowing Pastor George Saieg, a Sudanese Christian and Founder of the Arabic Christian Perspective, to discuss his Christian faith and distribute religious literature to Muslims attending the same Arab Festival held in Dearborn.  The court concluded that “The loss of a First Amendment right, ‘for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury,” citing Elrod v. Burns.

The Sixth Circuit’s ruling followed a June 7, 2010, decision in George Saieg v. City of Dearborn by federal District Court Judge Paul D. Borman that sustained the City of Dearborn’s policy of prohibiting Pastor Saieg from distributing his religious material “near” the festival.

In May, Haddad, who is the city’s first Arab American police chief,  was appointed by the Obama administration to serve on the Homeland Security Advisory Council, which “provides advice and recommendations on homeland security” to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

“Our job is to identify what type of training would suit front line law enforcement, officers, and to improve their ability to work more effectively with community members to mitigate threats or actual crime,” said Haddad .

““We’re engaging the [Dearborn] community in a way that’s never been done before,” Haddad said.  “There’s no cookie-cutter model for something like this,” he said. “It needs to be broad enough to work for the entire country.”

Although some might think Sharia law in America is a far stretch, nonetheless, American Muslims have not hid there agenda to replace the Constitution with the Qur’an – Sharia (Arabic for “way” or “path”) law.

In 1998, Omar M. Ahmad, founder of Council of American-Islamic Relations, said Sharia law should be the American form of government.

“Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant” said Ahmad. “The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.”

Under Sharia law, trying to convert or conversion by Muslims to other faiths is forbidden and converts are considered apostates, yet non-Muslims are allowed to convert into Islam.  Some Muslim clerics equate this apostasy to treason, a crime punishable by death.  Muslims say that legal precedent for this dates back to the seventh century when their Prophet Mohammed ordered a Muslim man to death who joined the enemies of Islam.

Early this month, Congress listened to testimonies about the recent deportation of  50 U.S. Christians from Morocco after they were accused of breaking a Moroccan penal code that prohibits individuals from trying to convert Muslims.

The U.S. State Department says of Morocco: “Islam is the official state religion, and the King is ‘Commander of the Faithful and the Supreme Representative of the Muslim Community’ with the responsibility of ensuring ‘respect for Islam.’”  The CIA World Factbook reports that Morocco is 98.7% Muslim, 1.1% Christian and 0.2% Jewish.

Courtesy of http://www.christianlawjournal.com/featured-articles/michigan-arab-festival-held-to-higher-reverence-than-first-amendment/

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Atheist billboard defaced on North Carolina’s Billy Graham Parkway

Posted by faithandthelaw on June 30, 2010

Vandals unhappy about atheists’ billboard in Charlotte, N.C., spray-painted “Under God” on the ad, the city’s atheist association discovered Monday. The defaced message will remain in place until after July 4, the group reports, which is the soonest that workers can furnish a fresh billboard image. Here’s how the vandalized billboard now looks:

The billboard reads, “One Nation Indivisible,” which is the phrase preceding the 1954 insertion of the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance, reports the Charlotte Observer’s Tim Funk. The billboard was erected on Billy Graham Parkway last week. (Graham is, of course, the state’s famous evangelical preacher.) 

Similar North Carolina ads have gone up in Asheville, Greensboro, Wilmington, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem as a Fourth of July project by the area’s atheist association. The group has filed a police report and will replace the billboard.  

“It was done by one or two people off on their own who decided their only recourse was vandalism rather than having a conversation,” Charlotte Atheists & Agnostics spokesman William Warren said. “It does show how needed our message is. As atheists, we want to let people know we exist and that there’s a community here.” Warren told the Observer when the sign first went up that its location wasn’t intended as a rebuke to the Rev. Graham.

He said the group has added more than 50 members since the ad went up. Atheist ads are often a target for vandals. Three of 10 atheist billboards erected in Sacramento, Calif., were defaced in February, and a series of atheist bus ads was recently vandalized in Detroit.

According to a 2007 study by the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of Americans are secular. Less than 2 percent of all Americans identify as atheist.

An act of Congress changed the language of the Pledge of Allegiance during the height of the Cold War. Francis Bellamy, a Baptist minister and Christian socialist, composed the original pledge in 1892. 

— Liz Goodwin is a national affairs reporter for Yahoo! News.

Courtesy of http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews/ynews_ts2936

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Religious-themed signs may cost Kentucky federal road money

Posted by faithandthelaw on June 29, 2010

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Jimmy Harston wants his religious-themed billboards to help save people, but his efforts may cost Kentucky money.

Harston, a Scottsville resident, is the backer of multiple billboards along Interstate 65 in southern Kentucky with messages including “Jesus Died for Our Sins.” They have sparked a legal fight that could determine if the state remains eligible for millions in federal road dollars.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals is weighing Harston’s case after he lost two lawsuits brought by the state, which considers the signs a nuisance that violates the 1965 Federal Beautification Act, the Bowling Green Daily News reports.

Kentucky could lose up to 10 percent of federal road dollars if it fails to effectively control outdoor advertising.

“The judges do not have a problem with the content of the signs,” said Harston’s attorney, Pat Ross. “But the judges agreed that … the signs fall within the billboard act.

Harston was given 60 days to remove the signs, but Ross said they can stay up while the appeals are pending.

Harston, a real estate developer, designed billboards and put them up on the properties of people who want to express their religious beliefs.

One reads, “If You Died Today Where Would You Spend Eternity?” and another says “Hell is Real.” The signs are within 660 feet of the Interstate 65 right of way and visible from the road. The state says the Federal Beautification Act guidelines apply to them.

Harston said he was advised he did not need a permit because the signs are not advertising.

“They are nonprofit,” said Harston.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe, however, said if the sign is intended to attract the public’s attention it is advertising and requires a permit.

“We will let the legal case play out … it’s in the hands of the lawyers,” Wolfe said.

Harston said Ross advised him the signs were going on private property and not regulated by the state.

Two judges disagreed, reaching the conclusion that the signs fall under the federal law.

Donnie Kimbro, whose property features one of the signs, said the ruling infringes on his rights.

Wolfe said the cabinet contends — and the judges agree — that signs don’t have to be commercial to be advertising.

The controversy attracted the attention of state legislators. State Rep. Johnny Bell, D-Glasgow, filed a bill seeking to exempt some noncommercial messages on billboards from state regulation.

Bell said Harston’s signs aren’t commercial and that the blunt Christian messages are part of the reason the state targeted them for removal.

“The Constitution says the government should take no steps to discriminate against practice of religion and free speech,” Bell said.

Wolfe, though, said the billboards’ content had nothing to do with the enforcement decision.

“This is strictly about enforcing the law,” Wolfe said.

Bell’s bill passed the house 80-16, but stalled in the Senate and died when the General Assembly adjourned in the spring.

Harston also has erected signs in Ohio, Texas and Arkansas. He said he has had a little trouble erecting a sign outside Raleigh, N.C., and that Ross is working with the transportation department there.

However, he said he has not had trouble like he has in his home state.

“I don’t know why they want the signs down,” Harston said.

Courtesy of http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20100615/NEWS01/6150343/Religious-themed-signs-may-cost-Kentucky-federal-road-money

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Another Blow to Religious Liberty in This Country

Posted by faithandthelaw on June 29, 2010

The Supreme Court Decision on Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. The Supreme Court continues to erode the First Amendment Right of Free Exercise of Religion. The link to the opinion is below.

https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-1371.pdf&pli=1

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‘.XXX’ Domain Advances; Critics Doubt Cleaner Web

Posted by faithandthelaw on June 29, 2010

After rejecting the “.xxx” domain application thrice in the past, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) decided Friday to allow pornography to have its own top-level domain.

Pornography sites will have the option to move from the .com to .xxx domain by early 2011, or sooner, according to ICM Registry, the group that proposed the .xxx domain.

Although arguments have been made that creating a domain specifically for porn will help clean up the Web, critics are doubtful it will have much positive effect. Moving to the .xxx domain is voluntary, critics point out, which means that .com sites will not be porn free.

And some companies can now maintain both a .com and .xxx domain address.

“[E]ven if soft porn sites like Playboy or Penthouse chose to convert their primary domain to XXX, each would still own the dot-Com and dot-Net equivalents and redirect them to the dot-XXX domain to ensure that the user reaches their site no matter what he/she enters in the web browser,” explained Craig Gross, founder of XXXChurch.com.

The .xxx domain would be a great idea if it was mandatory to move all porn sites over to it, Gross noted.

“This is not the case though,” he wrote on the XXXChurch.com website. “Now, what will happen is just more porn.”

Morality in Media, which was founded to combat obscenity in the media, came to a similar conclusion.

The group’s president, Robert Peters, said the .xxx domain will not succeed in protecting children from online exposure to hardcore porn because first and foremost it is a voluntary system. Maintaining sites within both domains is advantageous to commercial pornographers.

Peters also highlighted that many online porn providers are opposed to the .xxx domain because they fear government regulation and are concerned with having their sites easily blocked by parents, employers and governments.

“What the world needs now is not a safe and profitable haven for pornographers but rather a concerted effort to protect children, families and communities from pornographers,” said Peters.

ICM Registry said it already has 110,000 pre-reservations for .xxx domain and expects the number to increase with ICANN’s formal approval of their application.

ICANN had rejected similar proposals for creating a .xxx domain in 2006 and 2007. In 2000, the .xxx domain was among those rejected by ICANN out of a long list submitted by ICM.

The .xxx sites will not go live until after ICANN conducts a “due diligence” study of ICM’s business and operational plans for the domain.

Courtesy of http://www.christianpost.com/article/20100628/xxx-domain-advances-critics-doubt-cleaner-web/index.html

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God News? Religious Freedom Edition

Posted by faithandthelaw on June 28, 2010

Religion Dispatches, a progressive blog for religion news and analysis, has a post about President Barack Obama’s newly appointed religion ambassador. The headline sums up the story very well:

Obama’s Religion Ambassador: Inexperienced?
Dr. Suzan D. Johnson Cook is an upbeat motivational preacher, but her self-help background may not be preparation enough for an international diplomatic post

As I searched around for news about Cook, I was surprised to find very little outside of Christian media.

In yesterday’s Washington Post, however, is this dramatic Got News? entry by Thomas Farr:

It appears that the policy Johnson Cook has been nominated to lead is being sidelined even before she takes the job. The Obama administration seems to have decided that other policy initiatives — outreach to Muslim governments, obtaining China’s cooperation, advancing gay rights — would be compromised by vigorous advocacy for religious freedom. In fact, such a decision would harm the victims of religious persecution, hamstring key Obama initiatives and undermine U.S. national interests.

After explaining why the post is important and the bipartisan support it has received, he writes:

Expert envoys have long been at work on favored subjects, including HIV/AIDS, Guantanamo, disabilities and outreach to Muslim communities. A task force on gay rights has been in place for months.

Yet it took 18 months to nominate an ambassador for international religious freedom. And despite bipartisan urging to employ religious freedom as a means to advance our national security, the recent National Security Strategy ignores IRF policy. The ambassador will not report directly to the secretary of state as do other ambassadors at large (all of whom are experts in their fields). The staffers who reported to predecessors will not report to Johnson Cook should she be confirmed. The position will be emasculated, in direct contravention of the legislation that created it.

This seems like major news — so why haven’t mainstream outlets reported on this more?

The Washington Post is the notable exception — Michelle Boorstein wrote back in January:

Missing, say religious freedom advocates, is any work related to religious freedom or foreign policy.

And when the appointment was finally announced recently, William Wan and Boorstein had an analysis-laden blog post that explained what was happening in the office and why some folks are worried:

Farr notes that his field is “met abroad with almost universal skepticism” and is seen as a “front for Christian missionaries” – problematic perceptions that need to be dealt with by an influential, respected ambassador.

“If the Obama administration were taking this issue seriously, it would choose an expert in international religious freedom with experience in foreign affairs. It would choose a proven leader who can change things at the State Department and re-energize our flagging [international religious freedom] policy,” Farr says.

So the Post is all over this story. That’s fantastic. It’s a shame other media outlets aren’t interested in this story as well.

Couretesy of http://www.getreligion.org/?p=37135

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Judge rules evangelist can hand out Bibles at Pride Festival

Posted by faithandthelaw on June 27, 2010

After a week of intense debate that culminated in arguments about the Constitution in a federal courtroom, a judge Friday affirmed a Wisconsin evangelist’s right to hand out Bibles at this weekend’s Twin Cities Pride festival in Minneapolis’ Loring Park.

U.S. District Court Judge John Tunheim ruled that the First Amendment gives Brian Johnson the right to evangelize there as long as he’s not disruptive.

Tunheim wrote that although organizers paid $36,000 for a permit to use the park, that did not afford them the right to restrict the speech of those in it.

Pride organizers had filed for a temporary restraining order to keep Johnson from handing out materials without a vendor’s permit, something they had denied him in the hope of preventing him from diluting their message of tolerance toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people.

Tunheim wrote: “The court’s task here is to balance these competing interests to the greatest extent possible–to enable all speakers to exercise their constitutional rights–and then to depend on reasonable and law-abiding people to stay within proper limits.”

He wrote that although festival organizers are entitled to decide who may be sponsors and exhibitors, Johnson, 53, of Hayward, Wis., is entitled to speak and hand out literature in a public park. He called these “quintessential activities protected by the First Amendment, so long as he remains undisruptive.”

He suggested festival organizers could designate “free speech zones” where people could distribute materials and could prohibit such distribution elsewhere in the park, as long as people could still speak their minds anywhere on festival grounds.

Eileen Scallen, co-counsel for Twin Cities Pride, said free-speech zones are “not a practical solution.” She said organizers met with the city Park and Recreation Board after the order was issued and are confident few security issues will arise.

Festival organizers filed a civil rights complaint against the Park Board, saying their own First Amendment rights had been violated when the board gave its permission to Johnson to distribute materials at the festival, even though organizers had denied him a permit. Organizers are concerned that attendees will assume that because Johnson was allowed to distribute, he’s there with Twin Cities Pride’s blessing.

“Judge Tunheim does not understand this guy could easily be mistaken for someone who is a friendly, supportive Christian,” Scallen said, adding that the festival, billed as the third-largest of its kind in the country, will have 14 church-affiliated booths.

Tunheim, in his ruling, countered that there will be “no danger of confusion” between Johnson’s and Pride’s messages.

Johnson, who did not return calls, is expected to arrive at Loring Park early Saturday afternoon with his family to distribute Bibles. His attorney, Nate Kellum of the Alliance Defense Fund, called Tunheim’s ruling “spot-on.”

The ruling came 24 hours after a hearing at which attorneys argued their sides. Attorneys for the Park Board, which agreed to allow Johnson to distribute materials after receiving a letter from his attorney, argued that prohibiting him from doing so would violate his First Amendment rights.

Johnson handed out Bibles for 10 years as an official Pride vendor until organizers denied him that privilege in 2009. They said he espoused anti-gay messages and had been dishonest about his intentions. Despite being blocked as a vendor, he distributed Bibles at last year’s festival and was arrested when he refused to leave. Charges were later dropped.

Pride attorneys argued that Johnson’s presence would cause “irreparable harm” and potential “anarchy.” They also argued that he would impede foot traffic and cause extra litter because attendees would toss his literature.

Festival manager Jim Kelley said that although it appears Johnson may roam festival grounds and share his message as he pleases, organizers will not validate his views by granting him a booth again.

“If he shows up, we want our guests to know he’s a protester,” Kelley said.

Courtesy of http://www.startribune.com/local/97174494.html?page=2&c=y

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Police deem Oregon man’s defense of life ‘offensive,’ force him to stop displaying pro-life signs

Posted by faithandthelaw on June 27, 2010

STAYTON, Ore. — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit Thursday against the city of Stayton on behalf of a man who was approached by police officers and told he could not display his pro-life signs on a street corner.

“Pro-life advocates shouldn’t be kept from expressing their beliefs simply because city officials or others may oppose their viewpoint or find it offensive,” said ADF Senior Counsel Nate Kellum. “Our client intended to communicate a horrifying reality about abortion with his signs. The First Amendment specifically exists to protect that type of speech.”

In May 2009, Frederick “Caleb” Pearson held pro-life signs with images of aborted babies on a street corner without incident. While returning to his car, Stayton police officers approached Pearson to tell him that they were receiving a number of complaints about his signs. The officers told Pearson that they believed there was an ordinance prohibiting his expression–before another officer arrived on the scene with a copy of an “advertising ordinance.” Pearson was given a copy of the ordinance and left the scene. Several weeks later, Pearson returned to the street corner, but this time displaying a text-only “Respect Life” sign without the images of aborted babies, and he was not stopped.

Pearson later met with a police department official who told him that any sign depicting anything “offensive” is unacceptable. Although she agreed that his “Respect Life” sign was acceptable, she said he was nonetheless required to obtain a permit to display any sign.

In the lawsuit, Pearson v. City of Stayton, filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, ADF attorneys argue that the city violated Pearson’s constitutional rights by requiring him to obtain a permit to display his signs and by prohibiting him from displaying signs they or others may deem “offensive.”

Kelly E. Ford of Beaverton, one of nearly 1,700 attorneys in the ADF alliance, is serving as local counsel in the lawsuit.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

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