Once again we see the condition of the heart of our cities and nation in their attempts to violate our religious and civil rights. This time the shame goes to the city of New Orleans. In a story I found on Christian News Network, a Pastor and five ministry team members were arrested Friday night Sept. 15th while preaching and passing out tracts on New Orlean’s infamous Bourbon street. This street is where Mardi Gras and the Decadence festival are held. It is filled with bars and strip joints. What better place to reach hurting people with the gospel of Jesus?
Yet not so according to the “Aggressive Solicitation” ordinance passed by the city of New Orleans, which seems to think that if they do not make it against any one group of people then they have the right to violate the first amendment civil and religious rights of people. Here are some excerpts from the story.
Christian Arrested for Preaching
By: Heather Clark
A pastor and five members of his ministry team were arrested Friday night in New Orleans, Louisiana for preaching on Bourbon Street after sunset.
Pastor Troy Bohn of RAVEN Ministries (Restoring a Vision and Evangelizing Nations) and his ministry associates were taken into custody as they were sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ after 10:00 p.m. with the many men and women who had gathered on the infamous street.
“Jesus saw the multitudes and was moved with compassion for them. … [Similarly], he’s given us a love for the city and the people here,” Bohn stated. “Would I be willing to go through somebody tossing beer in my face or cursing me out to reach somebody? Yes.”
He outlined that last night was typical of most nights as the group began sharing Christ with the crowds. “We had our cross set up, and one young man that works with us [named Logan] was sharing the Gospel,” he explained to Christian News Network. “Some of the girls were talking to others.”
Bohn said that as the preaching went forth, a sergeant with the New Orleans Police Department approached, and so Bohn asked him what was the matter. “[He said,] there’s an ordinance against aggressive solicitation and you are under arrest,” he recounted. “They began to handcuff Logan and they said, ‘We’re going to cuff you guys so you can’t take off.’”
Bohn said that as the incident unfolded, he heard the sergeant give the order, “Be sure to find out what church they are with because we are going to start going after these churches.” “It kind of chilled me,” he stated. “Are we the threat preaching Jesus? No, I kind of like to think that we are holding back the darkness.”
Bohn explained that one of the women that was arrested, named Kelsey, was saved during their outreach at Voodoo Fest last October, and now goes out with the group to share Christ with others. “A young lady had come by [one night] who was working at one of the strip clubs,” he recounted. “Something spoke to her that said, ‘Get out of there,’ and then she saw the cross and gave her heart to Jesus that night. … She’s just a totally changed person.”
After the ministry team was placed under arrest, they were all marched down to the precinct house where they were held for one hour. Bohn and two others were charged with violating the ordinance; the others, including both women, were not processed.
As he was being held, Bohn confronted the sergeant about his comments, who stated that he was just following orders, although he did not agree with them.
Last October, the City of New Orleans ratified the “Aggressive Solicitation” ordinance in an effort to not only curb the forceful solicitation of donations in the popular section of the French Quarter, but to also place limitations on political and religious speech. Former mayoral candidate Leo Watermeier recently advised that he has complained to officials that police are not enforcing the ordinance with consistency, noting that Christians are still gathering on the street after dark to speak out against homosexual practices. He believes that the law was crafted in part due to the significant number of religious “protesters” that are known to be on the street in the evening.
The section of the ordinance that Bohn and his team are being charged with violating states, “It shall be prohibited for any person or group of persons to loiter or congregate on Bourbon Street for the purpose of disseminating any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise.”
last month, a group of nine men not affiliated with Bohn’s ministry were also arrested for engaging in free speech on Bourbon Street after sundown. They had been speaking during the Southern Decadence Festival, a homosexual event that is marked by public drunkenness and open sex acts.
“I know it won’t end on Bourbon Street,” Bohn stated. “It’ll go to your street. It’ll go to my street.”
Penalties for violations of the “Aggressive Solicitation” ordinance include a $500 fine and a maximum of six months imprisonment.
Police were not available for comment at press time.
Editor’s Note: Those wishing to express concern may call the New Orleans FBI at 504-816-3000 and email Neworleans@ic.fbi.gov Complaints may also be lodged to the Department of Justice at 202-514-2151 and via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
There you have it! Preaching is now a crime in the United States of America!
To all of you that did not believe me that cities across this nation were violating our religious liberties. To those of you that ignored Michael Salman’s plight, or the plight of other churches that are being hindered in their efforts to reach their cities by zoning laws, I ask you this question. Will you finally wake up?
If a city has the right and authority to limit free speech in certain areas of town then we have no free speech or religious liberties at all. This is a travesty! I call on every sincere believer in Jesus who reads this article to rise up. Complain to the people in authority about this violation of our civil rights. If you don’t do it, then every city will see that New Orleans got away with it, and they will write unconstitutional laws violating your rights.
Use the power of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and others to spread the word and cause an avalanche of emails and protests across this nation.