ADF Defends Free Speech Rights of Christians Coast to Coast
- By Alan Sears
- Posted Apr 10, 2012
- No Comments »
Even the most casual student of American history can see that the right of free speech is virtually synonymous with what it means to be a citizen in this country. And yet the staff and allied attorneys of the Alliance Defense Fund probably spend more of our time and resources litigating on behalf of this basic constitutionally protected right than on any other one area of the law.
Three cases from just last week will illustrate how widespread the assaults on this freedom are, particularly as it applies to conscientious Christians in our culture today.
In Minneapolis, ADF attorneys filed a federal lawsuit on March 30 against the city’s Park and Recreation Board, which effectively exiled a group of Christians handing out Bibles during the Twin Cities Pride Festival (the community’s annual celebration of homosexual behavior) to an isolated “no pride zone” – a remote and virtually untraveled corner of the city park where the festival was taking place.
“The government should not be exiling free speech, it should be protecting it,” says lead counsel Nate Kellum, one of nearly 2,100 attorneys in the ADF alliance. “It’s ridiculous to say that the only place where people can hand out Bibles is an area where there’s no one to hand Bibles to. The Constitution simply does not permit the board to relegate free speech to isolated regions where no one can receive the message. That’s not free speech at all. It’s pure censorship.”
Another ADF-allied attorney, Stan Zahorsky, is serving as local counsel in the case.
In Phoenix, ADF attorneys last December filed a lawsuit on behalf of a local resident who was told that, in order to informally share his Christian faith at South Mountain Community College, he would have to pay a fee, take out special insurance, and give the school two weeks’ notice.
Faced with the lawsuit, Maricopa Community College officials acknowledged on April 5 their decision to revise those policies.
“Free speech can’t come with a price tag and a burdensome waiting period,” says ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Jonathan Scruggs. “Christians sharing the Gospel on public college campuses shouldn’t be deterred from expressing their beliefs because of cumbersome, unconstitutional policies.”
ADF-allied attorney Chris Stovall served as local counsel in the lawsuit.
In Cheyenne, members of the Wyoming State Building Commission have complied with a federal court order – in response to an ADF lawsuit – by admitting they unconstitutionally violated the free speech rights of WyWatch Family Action last year by first approving, then removing the group’s pro-life signs from a gallery at the state capitol. No sooner had officials admitted their error, though, than they began seeking other ways to silence pro-life speech – including prohibiting all outside groups from participating in the gallery.
“Honoring free speech doesn’t come about by completely eliminating it,” says Scruggs, who joined Kellum in litigating this case. “Although the commissioners have done the right thing by recognizing that they violated the First Amendment-protected rights of WyWatch members … we disagree that the solution is to then shut everyone up so you don’t have to allow pro-life speech anymore.”
Cases like these are underway today in cities across the U.S. Please pray for our ADF attorneys as they work diligently to protect the rights of all Americans to hear and speak the Truth.
Author: Alan Sears