Monday, June 16, 2008

Man fined for preaching near Liberty Bell:Judge finds street evangelist guilty of 'interfering'

A man arrested for preaching on a public sidewalk too close to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia has been declared guilty of violating federal law. He was fined over $400 and put on probation, told not to go in Independence National Historical Park – or on its surrounding sidewalks – for a year.On October 7, 2007, Michael A. Marcavage, director of the evangelistic organization Repent America, stood on the sidewalk outside the Liberty Bell Center, on the western edge of Independence Historical Park, preaching a message against abortion and declaring that "we need to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ" to a crowd waiting to enter the park."This is where we have been on a number of other occasions," Marcavage told WND. "This time we were ministering to people waiting in line to see the Liberty Bell, speaking on the message written on the Bell, which reads, 'Proclaim liberty throughout all the land.'"Marcavage was then confronted by a National Park Service ranger, who demanded he move to a "free speech zone," some distance from the entrance, where he could continue preaching under the permission of a "verbal permit."Marcavage refused to move and refused to accept a verbal permit, claiming the 1st Amendment protected his right to speak in public.He was then arrested, taken away and charged with violating the terms of the permit that he had refused to accept. Marcavage's arrest, seen afterward on YouTube, can be viewed below.


On Friday, in the case of United States of America vs. Michael A Marcavage, U.S. Magistrate Judge Arnold Rapoport found the preacher guilty of violating the terms of a verbal permit and "interfering with agency functions."After the arrest Marcavage posted his thoughts on a free speech blog, stating, "If they shut down our ability to speak to the people, they shut down the Gospel; they shut down any message."The blog, however, noted that the Liberty Bell Center's establishment of a "free speech zone" is routine in cities and college campuses when officials want to maintain a tight control over potentially troublesome events. The blog cited a 2007 study by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which found 259 of 346 colleges studied maintained such free speech restrictions.In the aftermath of 9/11 government officials established a free speech zone near the Liberty Bell Center, where, according to government statistics, more than 100,000 protesters demonstrate each year.In United States vs. Michael A. Marcavage, Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Goldberg stood on the practice of government-created speech zones, stating in court that "nowhere does the law say that the government cannot regulate speech on a sidewalk used by the public."Four years ago, Marcavage made headlines for being arrested as a member of the "Philadelphia 11," a group that preached on sidewalks during a homosexual rally in downtown Philadelphia. The group was charged under Pennsylvania's hate crime laws, though the charges were later dropped.Marcavage's Repent America responded in a press release that it will appeal this latest arrest and court decision and that it "will be challenging these unconstitutional restrictions by filing for an injunction in federal court."
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/?pageId=67190
As in the days of Noah...

2 comments:

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