Battle for Bibles
March 12, 2013
ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA — Today, Nate Kellum, Chief Counsel of the Center for Religious Expression (CRE), is arguing an appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, on behalf of Brian Johnson regarding his constitutional right to hand out free Bibles in Loring Park - a public park located in Minneapolis - during the annual Pride Fest, an homosexual-themed event that is free and open to the public.
Bending to the wishes and prejudices of festival organizers, Minnesota Park & Recreation Board (MPRB) promulgated a rule prohibiting literature distribution in any public, accessible space in the park during and within the confines of Pride Fest, which rule serves to effectively eliminate Johnson’s ability to share his Christian message with those attending the festival. So as to lift this ban on Bibles, CRE filed action in federal court in Minnesota against MPRB, seeking a preliminary injunction that would enjoin application of the rule to Johnson.
Though the district court denied Johnson’s request for preliminary relief, the Eighth Circuit granted Johnson emergency relief pending the appeal, allowing him to give away Bibles at the 2012 event. Now, the appellate court will consider the issues in full, with Johnson’s freedom to express his faith at future Pride Fests hanging in the balance.
“We are hopeful that the appellate court will acknowledge the fundamental freedoms at stake for Johnson,” said Kellum. “In a public place during an event open to the public, Johnson has every right to share his views and contribute to the marketplace of ideas.”
Kellum will be available for comment following oral argument.