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|Netlore Archive: Email flier claims the First Amendment rights of a Christian group reading Bible passages at a gay pride event were violated when they were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and hate crimes|
Email example contributed by Deb R., 5 January 2005:
PENNSYLVANIA CHRISTIANS FACE 47 YEARS IN PRISON FOR READING THE BIBLE IN PUBLIC
Philadelphia charges Christians with hate crimes, inciting a riot, and using a deadly weapon. Bill O'Reilly reported on the situation on Fox News Channel.
In the 27 years of this ministry, I have never witnessed a more outrageous miscarriage of justice than what is happening in Philadelphia. Four Christians are facing up to 47-years in prison and $90,000 in fines for preaching the Gospel on a public sidewalk, a right fully protected by the First Amendment.
On October 10, 2004, the four Christians were arrested in Philadelphia. They are part of Repent America. Along with founder Michael Marcavage, members of Repent America with police approval--were preaching near Outfest, a homosexual event, handing out Gospel literature and carrying banners with Biblical messages.
When they tried to speak, they were surrounded by a group of radical homosexual activists dubbed the Pink Angels. A videotape of the incident shows the Pink Angels interfering with the Christians' movement on the street, holding up large pink symbols of angels to cover up the Christians' messages and blowing high pitched whistles to drown out their preaching.
Rather than arrest the homosexual activists and allow the Christians to exercise their First Amendment rights, the Philadelphia police arrested and jailed the Christians! They were charged with eight crimes, including three felonies: possession of instruments of crime (a bullhorn), ethnic intimidation (saying that homosexuality is a sin), and inciting a riot (reading from the Bible some passages relating to homosexuality) despite the fact that no riot occurred.
You may think I am exaggerating. I'm not. Our AFA Center for Law and Policy is representing these four individuals at no cost. We will take this case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary to get justice. There is so much more about this case I don't have room for it in this letter. We have prepared a 25-minute VHS/DVD in which two AFA-CLP attorneys discuss the case in detail.
Please help us with our expenses in representing these committed Christians. With your tax-deductible gift of $15, less than the cost of a cup of coffee once a month for the next year, we will send your choice of either the VHS or DVD. Watch the VHS/DVD, then share it with your Sunday school class and church. This VHS/DVD should be required viewing in every church in America.
Click here to get your copy of the Philadelphia 4 Story
Thanks for caring enough to get involved.
We must not allow this travesty of justice to continue.
P.S. Please forward this email to family and friends.
Eleven members of the evangelical Christian group Repent America were arrested on October 10, 2004 during a confrontation with homosexual activists at Outfest, a gay pride block party held in Philadelphia. They were charged with misdemeanor counts of failure to disperse, obstruction of highway and disorderly conduct, as well as three felonies carrying a combined maximum penalty of 47 years: criminal conspiracy, inciting to riot and ethnic intimidation (a hate crime under Pennsylvania law). Charges against several of the protesters were later dropped.
Differing versions of events
Beyond those basic facts, however, there is a marked difference between the version of events offered up by Repent America and its supporters and that provided by the Philadelphia police. Whereas the text above describes the evangelical protesters as peaceably preaching the gospel and passing out fliers when police arrested them, city officials say the group was actually attempting to disrupt a stage performance by shouting anti-homosexual slogans and Bible passages through a bullhorn, which led to a raucous confrontation with the event's voluntary security force, the "Pink Angels." As an angry crowd surrounded them, the protesters repeatedly disobeyed a police order to relocate, at which point they were placed under arrest.
Pending a full airing of the evidence from both sides in court, it is difficult to say whose First Amendment rights if anyone's were actually violated in the fracas.
Sources and further reading:
Onward to Jail, Christians
Philadelphia City Paper, 14 October 2004
Philadelphia Police Arrest Christians at a Homosexual 'Outfest'
American Family Association press release, 12 October 2004
Evangelists Lose Ruling in Protest at Outfest
Philadelphia Inquirer, 10 December 2004 (reg. required)
'Philly 4' Case Hits Prime Time with O'Reilly
Agape Press, 4 January 2005
Nation's Eyes on Christian Protesters
Philadelphia Inquirer, 12 January 2005 (reg. required)
Why the Outrage Over Outfest Arrests?
Philadelphia Inquirer, 13 January 2005 (reg. required)
Last updated: 01/11/05