San Antonio, Texas — September 21, 2018. The Center for Religious Expression (CRE) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Jose Muniz today to secure his right to pass out written literature about his Christian faith on public sidewalks in downtown San Antonio during popular events.
Muniz’s life was turned around when he turned to Jesus Christ 30 years ago. Ever since, he has gone to public places to share God’s love and his testimony of how God changed his life. On April 2, 2018, Muniz went to the public sidewalks of downtown San Antonio to pass out gospel tracts to people walking to and from the nearby Alamodome for the NCAA Final Four Men’s Basketball Championship. He didn’t block the sidewalks or sell anything, but San Antonio police soon approached him and issued him a criminal citation under an ordinance that makes it a crime to hand things out to people in the downtown area (labelled a “Clean Zone”) while the Final Four was occurring. Police warned Muniz to discontinue passing out tracts, or face arrest. Fearing arrest, Muniz left.
To secure Muniz’s First Amendment rights, CRE filed a lawsuit on Muniz’s behalf, requesting that the federal court strike down San Antonio’s unconstitutional law, which treats free distribution of gospel tracts like commercial vending, prohibiting it outright without obtaining advance permission and paying an exorbitant fee.
“Handing someone a piece of paper with a gospel message on a public sidewalk is an activity fully protected by the First Amendment,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “San Antonio cannot ban such harmless activity just because an event is going on nearby.”
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.