Friday, June 20, 2008
Gideons emerge victors in Florida case
A Florida law that was used to arrest two Gideons for handing out Bibles on a public sidewalk has been ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge.Members of the Gideons International Key Largo Camp planned to distribute Bibles on the public sidewalk outside a local school. But when they began their evangelistic mission, sheriff's deputies told them to leave or face arrest under a state loitering statute. That statute said a person cannot be within 500 feet of any school in Florida without either "legitimate business" or permission from the school principal. "... And what's interesting in this case is, the Gideons gave advanced notice both to the local sheriff's office and to the school themselves, " says David Cortman, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund. He also pointed out in a federal lawsuit-on behalf of one of the Gideons who left before being arrested-that the 500-foot exclusionary zone included all of the public sidewalks and U.S. Highway 1, the only road leading into the Florida Keys."There are thousands of people in that zone every day that no one bothers," the attorney contends."Yet, for some reason, these gentlemen were specifically selected to be arrested under this law..."U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore agreed and ruled the law unconstitutional because it was too "constitutionally vague" and in violation of the 14th Amendment. Cortman says this victory is another example of why Christians should stand up for their legal rights. He says Christians need to realize that they have constitutional rights to share their faith in public without fearing arrest.
As in the days of Noah...