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Freedom on Bourbon Street

NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge has ruled on behalf of Center for Religious Expression client, Pastor Paul Gros, recognizing that the City of New Orleans violated his first amendment rights in outlawing Christian evangelism.   

In 2011, the City of New Orleans passed an “aggressive solicitation” ordinance with language that banned individuals from congregating on Bourbon Street “for the purpose of disseminating any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise.”   

“This ordinance was uniquely egregious in how aggressively it denied ordinary citizens their first amendment right to free speech,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. 

Paul Gros brought a lawsuit against the city in September 2012 after Pastor Paul Gros was threatened with criminal arrest for sharing his Christian faith on Bourbon Street, which is only a block away from the church where he has pastored for decades. 

 After a U.S. District Court Judge banned the enforcement of the law, the New Orleans City Council revised the ordinance in July, abandoning the criminalization of religious speech, to better comply with the U.S. Constitution.  Then, today, in ruling on motion for summary judgment, the Court confirmed that the city violated the pastor’s constitutional rights by enforcing the ordinance against him.      

“Today’s decision represents a final and complete victory for Pastor Paul Gros and for all who desire to see free speech flourish, said Kellum. “The ordinance had unfairly targeted religious expression, and in doing so, prevented Pastor Gros and many others from sharing their deeply-held beliefs with those they feel would benefit from hearing a gospel message.”   

“Our hope is that this decision will prevent other cities from trying to enact similarly unconstitutional limits on free speech,” said Kellum. 

Center for Religious Expression is a servant-oriented, non-profit 501(c)(3) Christian legal organization dedicated to the glory of God and the religious freedom of His people.  

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