Christian Ministers Arrested for Praying Near Gay Fest
By Elizabeth O’Brien
ELMIRA, NY, July 10, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Police arrested seven Christians who were praying prostrate and holding Bibles in a public park where a gay festival was just beginning, WorldNetDaily (WND) reports.
36-year old born again street preacher Julian Raven and his group called the "Magnificent Seven" came to pray at Wisner Park in downtown Elmira the evening before the Southern Tier Pride Festival. After telling the police what they were planning to do, the Christian group was informed that if they went ahead, they would be arrested.
When they tried to enter the public park, a female officer told them, "You’re not going to cross the street. You’re not going to enter the park and you’re not going to share your religion with anybody in this park."
Raven told the officer that she was violating the Constitution. For the first time in his life as a Christian, he said, "I felt now my freedom of speech is threatened or challenged. I was being told I could not share my religion with anybody in that park."
According to their own account, without making any sound or approaching any people, the seven entered the park while lifting up their Bibles, lay face down on the grass before the stage, and were promptly handcuffed by officers in front of homosexual onlookers.
"We weren’t protesting or trying to get arrested," Julian says in the Star Gazette. "We were there to pray for their sins. We planned to lay down, pray for a few minutes and leave peacefully. It wasn’t our idea to disrupt the rally. But if it happens, it’s out of our control."
Raven commented in WND, "We have a legal right to be at an event held in a public square. We’re not a hate group," he said. "We’re Christians and we’re going to be there to pray."
Assistant Police Chief Mike Robertson said they were accused of "disturbing the peace" which includes "intent" to cause a public inconvenience, any "disturbance" of a meeting of persons, obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic, or taking part in "any act that serves no legitimate purpose," WND reports.
Another example of the growing public restrictions on free speech was the case of Pastor Holick in Wichita, Kansas. Holick was arrested only minutes after he and his church team arrived to hand out pamphlets on a sidewalk near the park where a gay fest was being held. Similarly, this June five members of the Faith Baptist Church were arrested in Petersburg, Florida, after carrying gay pride protesting signs that violated city regulations by being "wider than their torsos."
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