Gideons, Persecution, and Free Speech

In an update to this post about two Gideons who were arrested in Flordia for passing out Bibles on a public sidewalk , we find out that their initial case was dismissed.  But then we also find out that they are going to be charged with violating another statute.  From the story on

Two Florida men who wanted to give Bibles to children in their community are being charged under a state law that bans anyone from being within 500 feet of the land on which schools are built unless they have “legitimate business” or “prior authorization.” 

 The story goes on to point out the “unconsitutionality” of this law:

“This obviously is unconstitutional for several reasons,” Cortman said. “The First Amendment gives you a right to be out there and engage in speech. Is anyone who uses the sidewalk or [the adjacent] highway now in violation?”

He said another issue is the definition of “legitimate business.” It’s not for the government to apply those words using one definition to one group of people, and then apply those words using another definition to another group of people, he said.

“The government is not allowed to have unbridled discretion to define words in whatever manner they choose,” he said.

On the face of the statute cited by the prosecutor, people driving by the school on the highway technically are in violation of the law, unless they have an exemption, and if the same exemption doesn’t apply to the two members of Gideons International, then that creates a content-based speech restriction, which also isn’t proper, Cortman said.

“The question I have is why is the state so intent on punishing these gentlemen for passing out Bibles on public property?” he asked. “This is just beyond comprehension.” 

 The state is intent on punishing these men because Christians are the only group that society says it is ok to not tolerate.  Think about it:  people tell us (Christians) that we are supposed to accept and tolerate them and their views but then those same people turn right around and refuse to tolerate Christianity.  

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