Thursday, February 08, 2007

Gideons arrested for handing out Bibles in Florida

Two men from the Gideons were handing out Bibles on a public sidewalk outside the Key Largo School in Key Largo, Florida. They were reported by the principal of the school. And, the Monroe County's Sheriff, after asking the guys to move or be charged with trespassing, decided to arrest the two men.

"Officials cannot use fear of arrest as a means of bullying law-abiding Christians into silence," Cortman said. "These men broke no laws when they decided to communicate their message on a public sidewalk."

Tedesco noted that sometimes school officials have a misconception about whether they can control activities on school grounds and adjacent public sidewalks. But the First Amendment does provide a protection for speech on those parcels of ground that are public, he said.

"There's no reason why they should be put in jail," he said.

Betty Herrin, speaking for the Monroe County Sheriff's department, stated a fact that the defendants are clearly disputing. The report sent to WND states their truck was parked in a No Parking area, on school property.

The Gideons are a non-profit organization that distributes Bibles to hotels, motels, hospitals, and nursing homes, schools, colleges, universities and the military. They pay their own expenses, and 100% of donations go towards purchasing Bibles to distribute to those who want them.

Linked at Conservative Cat
Don Surber
Pursuing Holiness

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Anonymous said...

Thank God that the police and school took the appropraite action. We are talking about two guys parked in a no parking zone and on campus around a lot of small children. For security reasons alone you cannot just walk onto a school campus without going to the office first, because unauthorized people have no reason to be there.
I know people who hand out Bibles near schools and they would never ack like these two guys. These two guys were acting more like Predators handing out candy to the children they planned to abduct.
The school took the appropriate action. Arrest them and then figure out who they are. If my kids went to that school I would also want these two guys, (because of their behavior and not becuase they are Gideons) banned from any school any where.
I am a Christian, but I understand that many Christians feel that this was an attack on your faith. I don't see it that way. I see that we stopped a potential tragic situation from happneing to one of our children. And my God taught me that children always come first.

Anonymous said...
The first person commenting really needs to get more facts. 1 Thessalonians 5:21. Links within the ADF site have the actual court filings. Lengthy but informative. Google ADF, Alliance Defense Fund, if the link above does not work.

Anonymous said...

"Although the state did dismiss the trespassing charges, it filed new charges under a different state statute. That statute prohibits anyone from being within 500 feet of any school property, including on public sidewalks and streets, without having either “legitimate business” or permission.

“The facts are clear: Mr. Mirto and Mr. Simpson are guilty of nothing more than peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights,” Cortman said. “For whatever reason, the state is grasping at straws in order to justify the punishment of these men.”

The new motion to dismiss filed by ADF attorneys last week in the County Court in and for Monroe County, Florida, in State of Florida v. Simpson and State of Florida v. Mirto is available at