Abilene, Texas — November 9, 2016. A federal court in Texas entered an agreed order and judgment today, ensuring that the City of Abilene will no longer ban Daniel Ruchinski from sharing the Gospel on city sidewalks.
Ruchinski regularly goes to public places to orally share the Gospel and warn of the consequences of sin, and on December 4, 2015, he did just that. Because the public area where he spoke was next to a wide and busy highway, Ruchinski used an amplifier set to a low volume so that he could be heard by those nearby while speaking in a conversational tone. He didn’t become loud, yell, or cause any problems. Yet, minutes later, police arrived and issued Ruchinski a criminal citation, claiming that Ruchinski was banned from using amplification anywhere in the city simply because someone found his expression “annoying.”
Ruchinski contacted CRE, which sent a letter to Abilene pointing out the unconstitutionality of the ban and asking them to relent. But Abilene ignored this letter. Left with no other choice, CRE filed a lawsuit on Ruchinski’s behalf. Within two months, Abilene acknowledged the error of its ways, and agreed to an order declaring Ruchinski the victor and prohibiting Abilene from enforcing its unconstitutional ban on Ruchinski’s reasonably amplified religious expression.
“The First Amendment guarantees the right to be heard, which includes the right to use an amplifier,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “The government cannot deny that right just because someone finds the message annoying.”