Street Preaching: Legal Issues

For the history of how Americas got freedom of religion, press, assembly, speech, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances, click one of the following links:

(1) History of the First Amendment
(2) An Abridged History of the First Amendment

Tract – Street Preaching in America: Is it Legal?

Click here to go to articles and other materials dealing with street preaching and some related issues.

44Right now, in America, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, press, assembly, press, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The United States Supreme Court has interpreted First Amendment freedom of speech to include speech in the public forum (in government owned property such as streets and parks). Even with this clear condition of the law, those who preach the gospel in the public forum are attacked by individuals (including so-called “Christians”) and by peace officers who threaten them, push them around, abuse them, attack them, sometimes unlawfully arrest them (thereby subjecting the arresting officer, the police department, and the government entity to civil suit), etc. 99+% of Americans have no clue as to the true history of the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment and the importance of those freedoms. They just know that the preaching offends them and they want it shut up. The day when God’s children (not the religious crowd) will be severely persecuted in America. What does the Bible say about what Christians should do then? For the answers to this and other related questions see “Preparing for the Underground Church in America.” That article links to other resources including a great sermon series by Brother Russell Hildebrandt on the Underground Church. The street preachers of Old Path Baptist Church are among those who suffer the mild “persecution” in America when they preach in the public forum. See “The Trials and Tribulations of the Old Paths Baptist Church ‘No Small Stir’ Street Preaching Ministry.”

Whether you agree with the speech or not, it is protected in America and the court tells police officers that they must protect the speakers and the speech.
Whether you agree with the speech or not, it is protected in America and the court tells police officers that they must protect the speakers and the speech.

On October 28, 2015, the U.S. Sixth Circuit restated and strengthened First Amendment protection of speech in the public forum in a case where “Bible Believers” involved in street preaching to Muslims displayed a pigs head. “Bible Believers” sued WAYNE COUNTY, MICHIGAN; BENNY N. NAPOLEON, in his official capacity as Sheriff, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office; DENNIS RICHARDSON, individually and in his official capacity as Deputy Chief, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office; and MIKE JAAFAR, individually and in his official capacity as Deputy Chief, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. The Sixth Circuit stressed that the First Amendment “envelops all manner of speech, even when that speech is loathsome in its intolerance, designed to cause offense, and, as a result of such offense, arouses violent retaliation.” Attorney Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, who argued the case on behalf of the Bible Believers, applauded the decision, saying it was  “solidly on the side of free speech.” “If this went the other way, it would incentivize  violence as a legitimate response to free speech, and that is wrong in our country,” Muise said.  “Any freedom-loving American enjoys protections of the First Amendment.”The Sixth Circuit said, “(The ruling)  affirms the rule of law that when a violent mob is responding violently to protected speech, the police’s duty is to protect the speaker and not join that mob that is intent in suppressing the speech,” Muise said. “Today, the First Amendment was the victor.” Click here to go directly to the opinion. Article: Anti-Muslim Slurs Get Legal Protection (102915). The case now goes back to a federal judge in Detroit, who will decide what damages the Bible Believers are entitled to.

The court stated: “Ultimately, we find that Defendants violated the Bible Sinners_HellBelievers’ First Amendment rights because there can be no legitimate dispute based on this record that the WCSO effectuated a heckler’s veto by cutting off the Bible Believers’ protected speech in response to a hostile crowd’s reaction.” (p. 15 of the opinion).

I suggest that one read and study the above opinion which covers all aspects of the legal debate. The counsel for “Bible Believers” letter, prior assaults against “Bible Believers” by Moslems at the same yearly festival, the facts of the case including assaults against “Bible Believers” and the actions of the police, the law, etc. are carefully recited in the opinion. 

For greater understanding of the free speech rights of Americans in the public forum left click here and read the brief of Jerald Finney in the Steve Drake case.


The right to film police during routine traffic stops and in other settings and qualified immunity of police in such a case, United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, May 23, 2013. CARLA GERICKE, Plaintiff, Appellee, v. GREGORY C. BEGIN, WEARE POLICE CHIEF, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES; JAMES J. CARNEY, LIEUTENANT, WEARE POLICE DEPARTMENT, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES; JOSEPH KELLEY, SERGEANT, WEARE POLICE DEPARTMENT, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES; BRANDON MONTPLAISIR, POLICE OFFICER, WEARE POLICE DEPARTMENT, IN HIS INDIVIDUAL AND OFFICIAL CAPACITIES, Defendants, Appellants. (Click picture or link at left to go directly to PDF of May 23, 2014, court case.)

More on filming police: Colorado considers imposing $15,000 fine on police officers who restrict citizens’ right to film them (021816)(Google filming police and filming police supreme court for more articles)

 Now that the police in southwest Minnesota have been educated (see below) the following is usually what happens when citizens go against First Amendment Freedom of Speech:

Police Protect our Freedom of Speech in McKinney

1JphnTheBaptistThe job of peace officers in America is (1) to protect street preachers and others speaking in the public forum and (2) to inform people of the law concerning free speech in America. I street preached in Austin, Texas for 20+ years. The police in Austin understood and enforced the law. They protected us (and others speaking in the public forum) on numerous occasions. The Minneapolis Police Officer in the following video understands that his job is to protect those involved in First Amendment protected speech:

Minneapolis Police Officer understands the First Amendment

ExcusesPastor Jason Cooley gives peace officer lessons in how to act and in the law: Steel County Sheriff Short Circuits When Respectfully Challenged on the Law (082215)(This incident was reported on at:

A fine example of police bravery and action in Garland, Texas in protecting people exercising their constitutional rights (freedom of speech) is described in the article 

Garland, Texas, Shooting Suspect Linked Himself To ISIS In Tweets

  • The police officers are to be commended for bravely doing their job according to the law, the United States Constitution. Two Muslims, according to the article, “wore body armor. They carried assault rifles. And one had declared loyalty to ISIS.” Unlike many peace officers in America, these public servants took action to protect innocent Americans involved in protected speech activity. Too often, peace offices become law breakers, abuse their authority, disobey the law, interfere with protected speech activity of speakers in the public forum, and even abuse those speakers instead of doing the right and lawful thing by protecting those speakers and arresting those who give false reports to the police, assault the speakers, interfere unlawfully with the speakers activities, etc.
  • A good article on Muslim immigration and its effects is: Concerns Of Muslim Immigration Surge Into Western World Come Into Focus (050715)
  • Go to More Questions… for lawyers’ answers to the following questions posted on AVVO concerning the event:

“Why isn’t the contest to draw Mohammad in Garland Tx recently the same as yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater and not protected a known hate group held a contest to draw a “cartoon” of the Muslim prophet, Mohammad. In doing so, the group knew full well it would likely result in violence against those attending. In fact, only the Muslim protesting the drawing were killed as they approached the facility armed with weapons.”

The following was an e-mail sent by Rev. Paul Wayne Foltz DD:

Psalms 7:11
Psalms 7:11 “God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.”

Rev. Paul Wayne Foltz DD

To …
 May 11 at 10:32 PM

Read part of the transcript from the John Bunyan trial at:
An Abridged History of the First Amendment

The Old Paths Baptist Church “No Small Stir” street preaching ministry led by Brother Paul Pearson was appropriately named and, according to its name, has created “no small stir” in Northfield MN. It has served as an educational tool and encouraged a debate in the city. See

Constitution Day events aim to remind Northfielders of their rights, spark discussions

a September 12, 2014 article in the Northfield News.

Click here to go to the article:
Lawyers answer question about speech in the public forum in America

Op-Ed article in 092414 Northfield News:
Street Preaching: A Misunderstood Blessing

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s