Seattle, Washington — April 4, 2023. The Center for Religious Expression (CRE) has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking a preliminary injunction to protect the fundamental freedoms of Matthew Meinecke, a Christian in Seattle whom the police wrongfully prevented from sharing the gospel with others at an abortion rally as well as a Gay Pride rally last June.
On June 24, 2022, Matthew went to downtown Seattle to evangelize to those attending a protest against the overturning of Roe v. Wade. He intended to engage people in civil conversations about the gospel and offer them hope, but while reading through the Gospel of John, some protestors reacted poorly, ripping Matthew’s Bible from his hands and tearing it to pieces. Eventually, the police arrived at the scene but, regrettably, they did not come to help Matthew. Instead, they ordered him to leave and ultimately arrested him.
Two days later, on June 26, 2022, Matthew went to the Seattle Center, a public park where Seattle PrideFest was being held, to share the gospel with those attending this event. Again, hecklers mistreated Matthew. An attendee dumped water on his Bible, and other attendees spat and squirted water on him, and around ten police officers showed up. Instead of dealing with the unruly attendees, the police unlawfully required Meinecke to leave and eventually arrested him. The police took Meinecke to the police station, booked him, took his mugshot and fingerprints, and did not release him until five hours later.
In both instances, the Seattle Police Department abused its power and wrongfully targeted Matthew because of the content of his speech. Rather than protecting him from those assaulting him in reaction to his speech, the Seattle police took the easy way out and handled the situation by unlawfully silencing Matthew. Their actions were disgraceful as well as unconstitutional.
Recognizing the egregious nature of Matthew’s case, CRE is seeking to restore his right to share the gospel in public spaces without fear of chastisement from the police. Though he was the victim in both scenarios, he was treated like a criminal, and CRE is fighting on his behalf to remind Seattle of their role in protecting his First Amendment rights. “CRE is aggrieved by the wrong done to Matthew Meinecke,” said CRE Chief Counsel, Nate Kellum. “Seattle does not seem to have resources to take care of major crime issues within its city, yet they have plenty of resources and time to arrest a peaceful Christian who is acting perfectly within the law. We are hopeful that they will recognize their error.”
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.