El Paso, Texas — March 5, 2021. Center for Religious Expression (CRE) filed an appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Ryan Denton, after the district court denied his motion for a preliminary injunction. CRE sought preliminary relief to regain Denton’s freedom to share his faith with others on public streets and sidewalks of downtown El Paso during the Artist and Farmers Market (Market) while litigation challenging the policy is ongoing.
Denton wants to spread the good news of Jesus Christ through Gospel pamphlets and friendly discussions about his faith. He particularly wants to engage in this evangelistic activity on public streets and ways at the Market, where he can reach significant numbers of people. It is a uniquely suitable venue for Denton’s speech, a free and open public event that allows local community groups and non-profit organizations to use booths free of charge and permits all kinds of speech in the public areas. However, El Paso decided to specifically bar religious proselytizing during the event.
On Saturday, August 24, 2019, Denton went to the Market intending to proselytize, but shortly after his arrival, a Market official and a law enforcement officer approached Denton and shut down his religious expression. Facing criminal arrest, Denton complied with the warning and left.
The district court denied Denton’s request for immediate relief. Dissatisfied with this result, CRE is appealing to the Fifth Circuit Court to secure Denton right to speak – once and for all.
“Cancelling religious expression on public ways at a public event is an outrageous and obvious violation of the First Amendment” said Nate Kellum, Chief Counsel with CRE. “The City cannot exclude the Gospel from the marketplace of ideas.”