April 3, 2012 Print

Christians Sent to ‘No Pride Zone’

by Karla Dial

The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) is suing the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for agreeing to send Christians passing out Bibles at a homosexual celebration event to a “no pride zone” in a remote area of the public park where the event is held.

Twin Cities Pride, which sponsors the annual festival, had Brian Johnson arrested for passing out Bibles in 2009. When the Alliance Defense Fund warned the park board that it was violating Johnson’s free-speech rights, it agreed to allow him to do as he liked at the 2010 festival. As a result, Twin Cities Pride sued the city, demanding a restraining order to keep Johnson out.

A federal court in June 2010 denied that request. Though the park board, arguing on Johnson’s behalf, said it would be unconstitutional to deny anyone the right to pass out Bibles, it settled the case with Twin Cities Pride by agreeing to send Johnson and others to the “no pride zone,” where Christian literature can be placed in a drop box for festival-goers to find on their own.

“The government should not be exiling free speech, it should be protecting it,” said lead counsel Nate Kellum. “It’s ridiculous to say that the only place where people can hand out Bibles is an area where there’s no one to hand Bibles to. The Constitution simply does not permit the board to relegate free speech to isolated regions where no one can receive the message.

“That’s not free speech at all. It’s pure censorship.”


Read Johnson v. Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.