For over a decade, Brian Johnson has peaceably passed out Bibles during Minneapolis’ Twin Cities Pride Festival, but if he tries it again this year, he fears, he could be arrested.
Through some clever legal wrangling, Twin Cities Pride, the organizers of the annual festival celebrating homosexuality, have convinced the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to allow them to exile anyone attempting to distribute Bibles or communicate unapproved messages at the event to a “no pride zone” far away from the festivities.
Now Johnson is filing a federal lawsuit against the Board, claiming it can’t banish First Amendment free speech rights to a 10′ x 10′ square off the beaten path, especially during a major public event in which organizers have a non-exclusive permit to use the park.
“The government should not be exiling free speech, it should be protecting it,” said Nate Kellum, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, which is assisting Johnson. “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.”