Sunday, June 18, 2006

Christians, muzzled the world over...even here in the good ol' US of A.

I've said it before, I'll say it again....People just want Christians to be quiet and go away. People want their unfettered right to speak out but as soon as Christian's exercise that right, it's "intolerant" or "hateful". Christians have those rights just like anyone else. But no one wants to recognize that. Like this recent event in Sunrise, FL for example:

June 8, 2006

Florida Marriage-Amendment Campaign Charges Police Harassment
by Pete Winn, associate editor

Volunteers circulating petitions to place a state marriage-protection amendment on the 2008 Florida ballot say they were victims of police harassment last weekend. Attorney Rick Nelson, president of the American Legal Institute, said workers for the Florida4Marriage campaign were attending a Promise Keepers event at the Bank Atlantic Center, in Sunrise, Fla., near Ft. Lauderdale.

"On Saturday, June 3rd, as they were distributing petitions related to this marriage amendment, City of Sunrise police officers approached the volunteers and demanded that they remove the petitions from public view," Nelson said, "meaning that they did not want to allow these volunteers to continue giving the public information about the Florida Marriage Amendment."

The volunteers complied at first, according to John Stemberger, president and general counsel of the Florida Family Policy Council. Stemberger, state chairman of the Florida4Marriage campaign, said his group paid $800 to have a booth at the civic center with the understanding that they would circulate petitions and distribute literature.

"I couldn't believe it," he told CitizenLink. "I was stunned that police would do this." Stemberger said the officer in charge identified himself as Sunrise Police Sgt. Stephen Allen. "I confronted the officer and asked if he had ordered the volunteers to put the petitions away, and he said he had," Stemberger said. "I then proceeded to ask him the legal authority for that. And that's when the amazing thing started."

The officer, he said, started haranguing him, not about any law or ordinance, but about theology and his personal views on gay marriage. "He said that Jesus never mentioned homosexuality in the New Testament -- which is not exactly accurate," Stemberger said. "He went on and on talking about theology."

Stemberger alleges the officer also made abusive and intimidating comments -- and even taunted volunteers by mock kissing another officer. What he did not do, according to the Florida activist, was give any legal reason for why the group could not distribute petitions. "He would not give me the basis for his authority," Stemberger said, "for telling me why we could not distribute petitions at this event that we paid to be there for." An attorney, Stemberger said he tried several times to reason with the officer. "After I pressed him, he said, 'Look, I'm the governing authority, and the Bible says you're to obey the governing authorities.' And I said, 'Sir, we're all under authority, and you're under the authority of the United States Constitution, which you are now violating.' " Stemberger said the officer eventually told him that there was "a standing rule at the civic center" that flyers and petitions could not be passed out.

"So, after consulting with legal counsel, I thought, you know what, I'm going to go to the mat on this," he said. "This is totally improper. He's harassing us. He's suppressing our constitutional right to peacefully assemble, speak freely and petition the government. "So I went back to the table and put all the petitions back on the table with the clipboards. "He said, 'You remove them immediately, or I will arrest you.' And I said, 'Sir, you're going to have to arrest me because you're acting without authority.' " Stemberger said the 45-minute incident finally ended without arrests or further complications after an administrator from the civic center showed up and confronted the officer, telling him to stand down. "We have filed a grievance with the internal affairs division of the Sunrise Police Department," Stemberger said. Calls to the police department were not returned by press time.

Rick Nelson, whose group is affiliated with the Alliance Defense Fund, said the real shock is that this kind of incident is happening all across the country -- and is occurring more and more frequently. "I deal with this exact type of incident on a regular basis," he said. "This is nothing unusual -- in the sense of the police coming against the Christian viewpoint. I would characterize it as a trend that will continue." Nelson said Americans -- especially Christian Americans -- must respect authority, but must also stand their ground. "If we don't," he said, "we'll lose those precious freedoms of speech and expressing our viewpoints in the public square."

I doubt anything will happen, but this officer, for his inability to separate the law from his personal feelings and remain impartial, should be summarily fired.