Birmingham, Alabama — November 16, 2018. Today, the Center for Religious Expression (CRE) won another victory for free speech, obtaining a federal court order permanently ending the City of Birmingham, Alabama’s unconstitutional law and policy that infringed on the right to distribute literature and talk to people on public sidewalks during public events.
Craig Hendrix is a Christian who is deeply concerned for reaching people with a message about the love of Jesus Christ. In June of 2017, he and his family went to Birmingham to share their faith with people on public sidewalks during the Central Alabama Pride Parade. They passed out gospel tracts and had several cordial conversations with bystanders for a while with no issues. But, when parade representatives complained to Birmingham police about Hendrix’s message, the police ordered Hendrix and his family to cease sharing their faith because they did not have a permit to pass out literature, and the parade’s representatives didn’t want him there.
Hendrix contacted CRE, which sent a letter on his behalf to Birmingham officials, asking them to cease banning Hendrix’s speech. But Birmingham ignored his plea. Left with no other option Hendrix filed suit – and won. The order CRE obtained for Hendrix ensures that Birmingham will no longer require Hendrix obtain government permission to distribute literature on public sidewalks nor will Birmingham discriminatorily ban him from public sidewalks that border public events and parades based on the event organizer’s distaste for the message.
“No one should need government permission to share their religious views on public sidewalks, nor should they be shut down because someone else disagrees with those views,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “With this court order, Hendrix has reclaimed his right to free speech.”