Greensboro, North Carolina — August 11, 2020. Today, the Center for Religious Expression (CRE) secured the freedom of evangelist Rodney Keister and others to share the gospel in a Greensboro public park.
Keister wants to spread the message of God’s love and forgiveness in public places wherever he goes. In September of 2019, his travels brought him to LeBauer Park, a city-owned park in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina, where he handed out gospel tracts to passersby, and displayed a sign with a Bible verse.
He didn’t cause a disturbance or any other problems. Yet, park officials and Greensboro police soon shut down Keister’s speech, declaring it “unauthorized solicitation.” Keister explained he was just sharing the gospel with people, but the officials insisted Keister needed their advance permission, warning Keister to leave the park immediately.
CRE soon contacted the City of Greensboro and asked them to cease their restriction on Keister’s speech, but Greensboro refused, standing behind their rules. With no alternative, CRE filed a lawsuit in federal court on Keister’s behalf. (For more info, see this article). But, facing this lawsuit, Greensboro relented, and amended the park rules to eliminate the permission requirement on speech like Keister’s, assuring that his speech would be allowed without onerous regulations.
“The First Amendment is clear: citizens have the right to engage in free speech in public places like parks and sidewalks without government permission or onerous restrictions.” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “We’re glad Greensboro will acknowledge this fundamental right. Better late than never.”
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.