Greenville, SC — April 29, 2019. Center for Religious Expression (CRE) secured a victory for free speech today, convincing the City of Greenville to cease its ban on Adam Bishop’s speech that prevented him from sharing his faith on a public sidewalk outside of a public arena in Greenville.
For several years, Bishop has peacefully passed out religious literature and talked to people about his faith on the public sidewalk on the perimeter of the Bon Secours Wellness Arena, a publicly-owned event venue. The sidewalk is an ideal location for him to reach people walking to, from, and beside the popular attraction, particularly, when events occur in the Arena.
Bishop never encountered any problems with his evangelism in that location. Notwithstanding, Greenville police enforced a new policy prohibiting Bishop from communicating on the sidewalk. They claimed the sidewalk was no longer public, and controlled by the Arena. On this basis, the police forced Bishop, under threat of criminal sanction, to relocate to a remote, Arena-approved location where he could not be seen or heard by people passing by.
Bishop contacted CRE, which promptly sent a letter to Greenville officials, pointing out the constitutional concerns created by banning Bishop’s speech from a public sidewalk and asked Greenville to cease its unconstitutional restriction. Faced with litigation, Greenville officials heeded the request, assuring CRE that Bishop would be allowed to return to the public sidewalks to share his faith.
“We are pleased that Greenville recognized its error and made the necessary changes to restore Mr. Bishop’s constitutional freedoms,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “Public sidewalks are the marketplace of ideas. We should keep them open for speech.”
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. For more information, visit http://www.crelaw.org.