Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bible Distributors File Lawsuit After Arrests, Police Bullying

Bible Distributors File Lawsuit After Arrest, Police Bullyings
By Doug Huntington
Christian Post Reporter
Tue, Apr. 24 2007 01:03 PM ET

Gideons International, an evangelical Christian organization dedicated to distributing copies of the Bible, filed a lawsuit on Friday after members of the organization were arrested for their activities in Florida.
Defending the group is the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) – a legal alliance that defends the right to speak the “Truth” – which is arguing against the unlawful arrests. The Gideon members had been taken into custody because they were within 500 feet of a public school.
“Free speech in America exists even within 500 feet of public school property,” explained ADF senior legal counsel David Cortman in a statement. “Under the First Amendment, the Gideons have every right to distribute Bibles on a public sidewalk to those who wish to accept them. There is no legal justification for the continued harassment of peaceful members of the community who wish to hand out Christian literature.”
The incident took place on Jan. 19 while Thomas Gray, who filed the lawsuit, and other members of the Gideons Key Largo Camp were handing out Bibles outside Key Largo School, located on the southern tip of Florida. The group was on a public sidewalk when two of the Gideons, Mirto and Ernest Simpson, were approached and taken into custody by Monroe County sheriff’s officers.
Gray asked one of the police, Office John Perez, why the two were being arrested. He then responded that Gray would know in 48 hours after he received the report.
He also added that the Gideons had “no right” to be within 500 feet of school property as well as telling his two detainees that they “can pray to Jesus all the way to jail,” according to ADF.
“Officers cannot be permitted to bully law-abiding Christians, or use fear of arrest as a means of silencing them,” added Cortman. “Their actions were fully protected under the First Amendment.”
According to the Gideons Key Largo Camp, they did not step on to school grounds, and they had contacted the Monroe Country Sheriff’s Office beforehand. They also notified school officials on the day of distribution.
According to the group, both parties had said the activity was allowed.
Gray has not returned to the area to distribute Bibles since the arrests, because he is anxious about being taken into custody himself.
“The distribution of Bibles on a public sidewalk is not a criminal offense,” said Cortman in a separate statement. “The attempts by Florida officials to continue pressing for the prosecution of Mr. Mirto and Mr. Simpson is not only blatantly unconstitutional, it borders on religious persecution.”


L.A.Borguss said...

This is all poop!

I say; "Stay away from the children",..I don't care what these men were handing out!

The children should be protected in any way shape or form!

Look what happened at 'Virginia Tech' because no one was protecting the "students"!!!!

I have no problem with spreading God's word,..but these are minors at this school!

Lucky these guys didn't get accused of stalking little grade-school kids!

There is a time and place for everything under the sun,...and you can find that in the Bible too!!

By the way,..

Key Largo, is the first island in a chain of islands, known as the Florida Keys,..and it is hard enough protecting these children on that island with all of the tourist that go through there,....without having to worry about additional distractions going on in front of their grade schools!

The adults of that community have every right to go to any extent to protect their children/students!!!

There are ways to present Bibles and the Word of God, without having to enter a schools "safety zone",..think about it!!!

"Bigger fish to fry",....

So "End of Story"!

James said...

Aside from the fact that the "500 foot" law has been proven unconstitutional in courts around the country ...

Chris, you may wish to remove this post altogether, because it's wrong. The Gideons International does not file such lawsuits. ADF is filing a lawsuit over the objections of The Gideons International -- using their good name to get publicity for themselves. Very sad situation. Unless you can produce physical verification that this article you quote was totally accurate, it would be best to retract it.

Chris said...

Thanks James, i plan to posta reply soon.