One California attorney says a judge’s refusal to dismiss a case against Christians arrested for reading the Bible should serve as a “wake-up call” for believers (see earlier story).
A Riverside trial court judge has refused to dismiss a case involving Pastor Brett Coronado and Mark Mackey of Calvary Chapel Hemet, who were arrested February 2, 2011, on misdemeanor charges. The incident occurred in front of the Department of Motor Vehicles in Hemet, where Mackey read aloud to a group standing outside waiting for the office to open. A security officer told Mackey to stop, and when Mackey refused, a police officer was called to the scene. He arrested the pair.Bob Tyler of Advocates for Faith & Freedom thinks “this should be a wake-up call for people of faith — any person who has concerns over the right to express and share their faith in public.”The officer who handcuffed Mackey initially told him it was illegal to preach to a “captive audience.” But after the two men were jailed, the officer changed his citation to “impeding an open business” with threats and intimidation. However, the district attorney again changed the charges to trespassing after the government realized the pastors had not threatened or intimidated anyone.
According to Tyler, they were prepared.”These fellows videotape on a regular basis when they go out evangelizing because they have had circumstances where they’ve been spit on, they’ve been assaulted, they have been threatened in the past, and people have made false allegations about their conduct,” the attorney reports.
With the trial judge declining to dismiss the case, Advocates for Faith & Freedom is appealing. The firm claims the trespass law on which the government is relying is unconstitutional, as declared by other federal courts.