Jerald Finney © July 9, 2014
Several years ago I became concerned that pastors and other believers were hurting the cause of Christ by suing cities, mayors, individual police officers and others who disobeyed the law and cited and/or arrested them falsely for exercising their First Amendment right to freedom of religion and speech in the public forum. I announced this belief and gave a few Scriptures at a meeting attended by quite a number of Fundamental Baptist pastors. I also stated my belief that filing for injunction as opposed to suing for damages when one’s rights are threatened and/or violated does not violate Biblical precepts. Some of the verses which led me to this conclusion are:
Mt. 5.10-12, 38-48; 6.8-15; 18.21-35; Lk. 6.27-46; 9.51-56; Ro. 8.28; 12.9-21; 13.8-14; 14.19; Ga. 6.10; 1 Thes. 5.15; 1 Ti. 3.1-7; 2 Ti.1,8; 2.8-12; 3.12; 3.12; Ja. 3.17; 1 Pe. 2.9-25 (esp. 15-16 and 20-25); 3.14-17; 4; Ge. 50.16-20; Le. 19.18; De. 32.35 and other verses.
[Most of the above verses from the Bible are reproduced in EN 1. This is done for the convenience of the reader and also because many people either do not have a Bible, or they have an interpretation of the Bible such as the NIV, the ASB, the Living Bible, etc. Reading an interpretation can only confuse one when he wants to get into the truth about doctrine. Please read those verses so that you will understand what the Bible says about taking vengeance, the believer's reaction to evil against him, one's actions against his enemies, about the believer's attitude in time of persecution, etc. Consider this article in light of Biblical teaching, not in light of your traditions. One pastor has already e-mailed me to "unsubscribe" him from my e-mail list. He merely states that he is making this request because I obviously do not "understand the clear statutes of Scripture." He gives no reasoning in his request because he cannot. Scripture clearly supports my position. I always leave open the challenge, "Show me where I am wrong." If you can show me, I will publish my repentance. By the way, I have received communications from other pastors who are supportive of this article. Really, the only thing that matters is the truth of the matter according to the word of God.]
Both the goal and the method matters to God. An active believer with good intentions but the wrong methodology can do great harm to the cause of Christ. My beliefs about this matter of suing for damages were challenged the way that some Fundamental Baptist preachers address issues – in a sermon at a future meeting. I was anxious to hear the preannounced sermon since I had hopes that the preacher, a man for whom I had and have a great deal of respect, would take out his Bible and “show me” where I was wrong. He did not. He explained that after he filed suit in a case where the law enforcement violated his First Amendment rights, the police whom he included in the suits suddenly started treating him with the greatest of respect, that he won quite a sum in damages, etc. He relied on one verse which I do not remember but which did not support his position and a portion of another verse: “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (the last part of Jude 1.3). To understand “how” God wishes a believer to react to a violation of his constitutional rights exercised in the public forum (the method) one has to do some serious Bible study. Verses taken out of context are often used to support heresy. We talked briefly after his message, but he never offered any explanation of why I was wrong. He did give me some unneeded advice on how to proceed with an injunction. His sermon and our brief conversation were cordial but unfruitful.
Due to an incident in Faribault, Minnesota in which police officers violated the rights of men from the church I am a member of, Old Paths Baptist Church (“OPBC”) of Northfield, Minnesota, I found that my position was partially right and partially wrong. I learned this through talks with my pastor, Pastor Jason Cooley, and more Bible study as the incident in Faribault played out. Instead of preaching to me, he got out his Bible and examined Scripture and talked to me about it. It was important that we do so because it appeared that, in spite of all our sincere efforts to avoid litigation (getting federal court intervention), the City of Faribault, their Chief of Police, and the police department were going to allow a city code to trump the First Amendment speech protections for our men who were preaching in the public forum. All this is reflected in the correspondence in the Endnotes. Thankfully, the city through the Chief of Police, after I got the city attorney and city council involved in the correspondence, seems to have acknowledged that the First Amendment trumps a city ordinance. The law is given in the many cases I cited and quote from in my e-mail correspondence which is in the Endnotes below.
Many police departments and police officers, including Chiefs of Police, like many Americans, make up the law concerning First Amendment rights. Those in larger towns and cities usually know the law of free speech in the public forum since they regularly deal with all kinds of activists. This is not true in smaller towns and cities where the issue has never arisen. Shame on believers and churches who have not followed biblical guidelines and done their duty to go into all the world and preach the Gospel in this nation where, unlike many nations, they can do so under the protection of man’s law.
After the Faribault police violated the speech rights of the OPBC street preachers, I posted the following report online at http://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/sermons/street-preaching/december-25-2013-an-unfolding-street-preaching-battle-in-northfield-minnesota/:
“On June 21, 2014, Brother Paul Pearson, Pastor Jason Cooley, Brother Cooley (Pastor Jason’s dad) and some other younger men from Old Paths Baptist Church went to Faribault MN for street preaching, displaying signs, and handing out tracts. Two recordings of the encounter were made by Pastor Cooley may be viewed by left clicking the following links:
“Faribault police officers approached them. One of the officers arguably assaulted (petty misdemeanor assault) Brother Pearson as he was preaching by poking his with his finger as he stood on a stand street preaching. As the officer poked Brother Pearson with his finger he told him, “Get down from there. I said get down from there.” Brother Pearson kept preaching. The officer said that if they did not leave, they would be going to jail. One female officer told them that if they did not leave, they would be cited and arrested. She threatened them by saying they would cite them for violating Section 17-42(a) of the Faribault City Ordinances entitled “Nuisance noise” (See EN 2 for the whole ordinance).
“She had to go get a copy of the above section of the code before she could tell them what they were allegedly doing wrong. Brother Pearson kept preaching and Pastor Cooley explained to the officers that they were engaged in speech protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (which is above a city ordinance and nullifies any ordinance which is in violation of that amendment). The female officer told them that it was illegal for them to preach there and that ‘telling people they’re going to hell is alarming and scaring them.’”
The preachers stayed on for a time, probably a little longer than they would have stayed had the police not interrupted their efforts, then they left. However, the tone of the police was such that they believed that they would be cited, and possibly arrested, the next time they went back to preach in Faribault.
In an attempt to resolve the matter, I called city attorney on June 23, 2014. He suggested that I call the Chief of Police. I have had many dealings with police as a lawyer over the years, including examining them on the witness stand. I knew the “peace officer” mindset. But I decided to honor the request of the city attorney. I left a voicemail for the Chief. Then I sent him an e-mail (See EN 3 for the e-mail). In that e-mail, I told him what had happened and gave him links to the videos above, briefly explained the law, gave him links to materials which explained the law, told him that we were proceeding like this in hopes of settling the matter peaceably with the hope that “this whole matter will glorify God, uplift all involved and bring us closer together in love, strengthen and enforce principles which have made America great, and increase all our knowledge, wisdom and understanding of a vital matter. “etc.
On June 26, the Chief replied by e-mail, since we were playing phone tag. In his e-mail, he explained that the officer who “tapped the preacher on the arm” was a community service officer – not an officer in the Faribault Police Department – that it was not an assault, that a person “has the right to free speech and can preach loudly and exclaim their beliefs in public;” but he went on to explain that “in the City of Faribault we do have an ordinance and a state statute that defines some behavior as public nuisance or disorderly conduct” and that “a citation can be issued.” He expressed his confident belief that “our State Statute” would “comply with the Hierarchy of Law and win challenges.” He went on to explain that correct his officers used correct protocol, were polite and professional, were responding to complaints, etc. It was clear, that citations would be issued for street preaching if citizens complained. He then explained the court process. In other words, he was saying that we could take it up with the trial court judge after the citations were issued. He still did not get it. He ended with, “The City of Faribault will continue to enforce the law and protect all citizen rights, as well as free speech.” Note. I have his e-mail on file, but am not publishing any of his e-mails. I will only do so if someone accuses me of falsely representing what was in the e-mail. Of course, I will not cover everything he said in his e-mails.
Again, while this was going on, my pastor and I were not only discussing what was going on but also what we should do, according to the Bible, should one or more of the men be arrested in violation of the First Amendment. I will explain our conclusions at the end of this article.
I sent Chief Bohlen a rather lengthy e-mail reply to his June 26 e-mail which is reproduced in EN 4. In that e-mail I 1) apologized; (2) gave him a link to a Youtube video of a Minneapolis policeman interacting with the men of OPBC on June 28, 2013 as they preached at a “gay” pride event, a link to a website page which shows what happened in Northfield MN when people complained about the street preaching in downtown Northfield and my credentials to speak on these matters; (3) presented requests for clarification of his position and some other matters; (4) spoke to the assault issue showing him why I thought that the officer actually did assault Brother Paul Pearson; (5) gave him specific law which clearly proves that it is unlawful for a police officer to arrest someone under color of certain types of statutes (disorderly conduct, nuisance, littering, etc.) laws when they are speaking in the public forum; (6) Concluded.
In spite of all this, Chief Bohlen maintained his position which was that our men had a right to speak in the public forum; but that if someone complained the police could still issue a citation for violation of certain statutes. Of course, he would have understood he was wrong had he read and understood the law as laid out in my e-mails. It appeared that the men of OPBC would have to go to court for resolution. However, I knew that I needed to notify the appropriate city officials of what was going on and make sure that they shared his position, as he had asserted. To do so, I sent an e-mail reply to the Mayor of Faribault, the Chief, the City Attorney, and all the Faribault City Council members. The entire e-mail is included in EN 5.
Finally, before I heard from Chief Bohlen again, I sent another e-mail in to all the above mentioned Faribault city officials in which I quoted from and linked to MCCULLEN ET AL. v. COAKLEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MASSACHUSETTS, ET AL. a United States Supreme Court case which was handed down June 26, 2014, and also linked to a recent and relevant Texas case. I ended, in part, “I know that you are all busy, but I would ask you to please let the men of OPBC know as soon as you can as to what your city policy is going to be regarding their First Amendment right to speak in the public forum.” The Chief had indicated that he spoke for the City of Faribault, but I wanted to pin all the above persons and the City of Faribault down in case further legal action were required. See En 6 for the entirety of that e-mail.
The Chief relented. He left a voice mail and we talked over the phone later. I think that he finally understood the law on the matter and the role of the police. I have retained his voice mail. Our conversation was not recorded, but he said the same thing, for the most part in our conversation as he said in his voice mail. Among other things, he said that he saw the videos, stressed that no one was taken into custody or arrested, that he understood our frustration, that they would respect our First Amendment rights, that the police have an obligation to take calls of complaint, that he wants to make sure that they handled appropriately, and that he has issued the appropriate directives to his officers as to how to take these complaints. He said that they “have an obligation to go out and take these calls” and that he “wants to make sure they are handled appropriately.” He also said something which causes me concern as to whether he truly understands the law, but I will leave that out of this article. He, the Faribault police department, and the city of Faribault through her officials now cannot say that they did not know the law should they violate it. In talking with Chief Bohlen, I believe that he is a good man, a man of his word, and that he truly wants to run his police force according to the law of the land. The men of OPBC know that many smaller towns, unlike larger cities like Minneapolis/St. Paul and Austin TX, have never had to deal with the controversy caused by activism in the public forum. Therefore, they usually do not respond appropriately when citizens complain. This is an indictment against many, and especially against believers and pastors of churches who were instructed by our Lord: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Had they only done their job, everyone in the land would not only see the power of God and hear the Gospel, but also know the law of the land concerning First Amendment freedoms; then, they might even study the history of how Americans got those freedoms. That study would enlighten them on many matters such as religion (Catholicism, Protestantism, the history of true Baptist believers and churches, the blood of the martyrs which led to the First Amendment) the history of America, etc.
Now, as to the results of the studies and discussions between myself and Pastor Jason. My belief is now, as before, that a believer who wishes to speak in the public forum should do all he can, aside from abandoning his calling and duty, to avoid litigation. I know that this is not always possible. Even in this instance, one or more of the men could have been arrested. Since that did not happen, the men of OPBC did all they could to honor God, Chief Bohlen, the Faribault City Officials, and the City of Faribault and avoid litigation. However, had Faribault not relented, we had decided that the next step was to file for federal injunction. Of course, we felt that, through all the correspondence, we had enough to implicate Chief Bohlen, the City Officials, and the City of Faribault. Had we been forced to take that route, we do not believe that a federal judge would have looked kindly on the city’s actions since they had been thoroughly educated as to the law; in one sense, that would not have mattered since there are no damages to be awarded in a successful action for injunction.
On the other hand, had the city not relented and had the city violated or should the city in violate the constitutional rights of one or more of our men while speaking in the public forum, I now believe, as do the men of OPBC, that a civil rights lawsuit would be in order. We believe that it would be appropriate for the suit to ask for actual damages to any man who lost income or money as a result of being arrested, having to go to court, going to jail, etc. We believe that this is biblically acceptable for several reasons.
First, God laid out the jurisdiction of civil government. Much of the Old Testament deals with this matter, as do parts of the New Testament. Romans 13.3-4 which gives civil government jurisdiction in a nutshell says:
“For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”
Ro. 13.8-14 then gives the individual believer’s duty to our fellow citizens. Inherent within that duty is to do God’s bidding and show our love to our neighbors by preaching to them.
When a peace officer seeks to terrorize good, not evil, works, he is misusing his God-ordained power – he is executing wrath on the wrong person(s). He is becoming a lawbreaker.
1 Ti. 1.8-11 says:
“But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.”
Second, the verses I cited at the beginning of this article to support my belief that believers should never sue because of violation of their civil rights did not take into consideration justice. The above verses, and many others inherently include the notion of justice. One can do a word search of “justice” to find out that the Bible specifically speaks much of justice. Psalms 82:3 says, “Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.” Micah 6.8 says, “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” If a man’s family suffers because a government has unlawfully terriorzed and/or persecuted him, justice demands that that family receive restitution.
Another consideration for the believer who sues for violation of his constitutional rights is his motive – is his primary desire to glorify God by making sure he is not led in any way by covetousness. In Genesis 14, we read that the King of Sodom wished to reward Abraham for saving the good and the people who had been taken forcefully by certain kings and their armies. “And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion” (Ge. 14:22-24). “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (He. 13.5-6).
The Bible limits what a child of God should seek in restitution. Never should one seek exemplary damages, damages for mental anguish, damages for emotional distress, or any kind of damages which can be characterized as seeking vengeance. One can study out the meaning of the various types of legal damages to determine which can be characterized as “vengeance” damages. A true believer is to rejoice and be exceeding glad when persecuted for the cause of Christ. He is instructed never to seek vengeance since God makes clear that vengeance is His and that he will repay the offender for his unlawful actions. I refer the reader to the verses at the beginning of this article, most of which are reproduced in EN 1 below, for a study of this matter of vengeance and loving one’s neighbor. A complete serious study of the whole word of God would be even more enlightening.
In short, I believe that the course one who wishes to preach the Gospel in the public forum should be as follows:
(1) Do everything possible to avoid having to go to civil (as opposed to criminal) court. If one plans to speak in the public forum within a jurisdiction in which he is unsure if the authorities there are educated as to the law, notify the appropriate official(s) of when and where you will be speaking. If they do not know the law, educate them. Be sure to keep all evidence possible of your communications in case needed in future litigation.
(2) If the jurisdiction threatens citation and/or arrest after having been informed of the law, file for injunction in federal court.
(3) If you are arrested at any time for violation of your Biblical mandate to preach the Gospel in the public forum and in violation of your Constitutional rights, file a civil rights lawsuit. The only acceptable damages, according to God’s word, is actual damages which keeps one from properly keeping his duty to provide for himself and his family, and even those damages may not always be called for – a believer who is suing must honestly determine if such damages are appropriate. Suing for any type of damages which takes vengeance violates God’s principles. Suing for financial loss which compromises your ability to support your family is Biblically acceptable. I can help get an attorney licensed in your state to practice law to help you. If you are in Austin, Texas or in a nearby county in Texas, I may be able to help you depending upon my schedule.
I salute Chief Bohlen for giving his attention to this matter. He is a busy man. He and the officials and citizens of Faribault as well as the men of OPBC are better off for this educational experience. May the education extend to those citizens who have not, to this point, been privy to what has gone on in resolving this matter. May justice prevail now and in the future.
Mt. 5.10-12, 38-48; 6.8-15; 18.21-35: “5:10-12 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. 5:38-48 Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. 6.8-15 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 18.21-35 [Not reproduced here.]”
Lk. 6.27-46; 9.51-56: “6:27-46 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye. For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 9.51-56 And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.”
Ro. 8.28; 12.9-21; 13.8-14; 14.19: “8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 12:9-21 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. 13.8-14 [God’s command to the believer concerning his acts toward his neighbor in the context of civil government jurisdiction and the believer’s role as a citizen of that civil government. Notice that these verses say nothing about the believer’s relationship to God in that context.]. 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.”
Ga. 6.10: “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
1 Thes. 5.15 “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.”
1 Ti. 3.1-7: “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” [Since pastors should be going into the world preaching the Gospel, and since they may encounter violations of their civil rights, they should be aware that they are held to an even higher standard than other believers. Verses 10-13 then deals with qualifications for deacons.]
2 Ti.1,8; 2.8-12; 3.12: “1:8 Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;” 2:8-12 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 3:12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
Note. Contextually, in 2.Ti. 3.12 and other verses, when Paul speaks of believers suffering persecution, he means that they will suffer, not fight, persecution. Of course Paul argued within the legal system when falsely accused of crime. He appealed to Rome as a Roman citizen and argued that the facts showed that he was not guilty. He did not have the civil rights given Americans in the Constitution, so one must go deeper into relevant Biblical doctrine to see God’s limits on one’s methods as he enters the civil (as opposed to criminal) law. That is what this article is about.
Ja. 3.17: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”
1 Pe. 2.9-25 (esp. 15-16 and 20-25); 3.14-17; 4: “2:15-16 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 2:20-25 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls. 3:14-17 But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ. For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.” [Read chapter 4 in your Bible. If you only have an interpretation – a non-KJB – buy a Bible!]
Ge. 50.16-20; Le. 19.18; De. 32.35: [Not reproduced here]
EN 2 “Sec. 17-42. Nuisance noise.
“(a) No person in the city shall make or assist in or permit the making of any noise tending to unreasonably disturb the peace and quiet of persons in the vicinity thereof, unless the making and continuing of the same cannot be prevented and is necessary for the protection or preservation of property or of the health, safety, life or limb of some person. “… “(d) Permitted noise. Customary sounds from any of the following activities shall not be deemed to violate this section. “(1) Marching and/or playing of music by bands, orchestras, or other musical aggregations in conjunction with an authorized city celebration, festival, or other neighborhood or community event, including band shell concerts; or the practice for or presentation of an event sponsored by a local public or private school; “(2) Church bells, chimes and carillons; “(3) Authorized parades; “(4) Construction work conducted between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.; “(5) School bells; “(6) Emergency vehicles; “(7) Permitted street dances; or “(8) Collection and transportation of garbage or refuse in the city between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, the collection and transportation of garbage or refuse for commercial, industrial or institutional properties may be conducted between the hours of 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.”
Note. I included subsection (d) above because I believe it is significant that the exceptions do not include the most important and constitutionally mandated exception – free speech in the public forum – while it does include garbage collection and other similarly types of sound causing activities including some Biblically offensive types of “noise.”
EN 3 [First e-mail to the Faribault Chief of Police]
My name is Jerald Finney. I am writing this letter as a member of Old Paths Baptist Church (“OPBC”) in Northfield, Minnesota. I am contacting you regarding a matter which happened on June 21, 2013 in your city. Some of your police officers broke the law by assaulting one member and threatening more than one member of OPBC with arrest and citation for violating Section 17.42(a) of your city ordinances. I have already put the whole story online. You can read it at:
http://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/sermons/street-preaching/december-25-2013-an-unfolding-street-preaching-battle-in-northfield-minnesota/ You may click the link above and scroll down to “June 21, 2014 Update” to read the story. To verify the story, there are links there to 2 videos which show exactly what happened.
I am a lawyer who specializes in “separation of church and state law” and am licensed in Texas, but not in Minnesota. However, as a member of OPBC and as a representative of that church, I – and the church – wish to attempt to resolve a matter involving your police officers in the most reasonable manner, and in a way which does not waste the money of the taxpayers. This is the best way to handle the matter, in my opinion, since the legal issues have already been decided by the United States Supreme Court. Many lawsuits against municipalities, police departments, and individual police officers have already laid out the parameters of the law and shown that the litigation process ends up with taxpayers spending untold thousands of dollars for not understanding and correctly applying the law. The costs to the city and officers involved have included lawyers fees, court costs, time involved for officers and others who become involved, monetary judgments in favor of those whose legal rights have been violated, etc. OPBC wishes to act in a manner consistent with what the Bible teaches in resolving this matter and avoid further action. We wish to show you our love for you and your city by peaceful resolution. The church has already contacted the Alliance Defense Fund (“ADF”) and an ADF lawyer has told us to call if needed and they will get a lawyer who practices in your jurisdiction on it quickly.
What we would ask from the city is (1) a writing from a city official (Chief Bohlen, City Attorney, Fischer, or the mayor) stating that the Faribault police have been informed of the law regarding free speech in the public forum that can be presented in the future to officers who might attempt to abuse the preachers again and also stating that Faribault police officers have been educated in the law concerning speech in the public forum in America, (2) a written apology from the officer who assaulted the preacher, and (3) an apology from the lady officer who did almost all the talking.
I have thoroughly addressed the law on this matter online. I specifically deal with the issue on the “Old Paths Baptist Church ‘No Small Stir’ (Street Preaching) Ministry” page which you may assess by clicking the following link:
http://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/sermons/street-preaching/ There you may find links that will take you to court briefs and other information which spell out the law. I have a 12 page tract which succinctly lays out the law. The link to the PDF of that tract is: http://jeraldfinney.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/041514_northfieldfreedomofspeech_pdf.pdf
As you can see from the information on that tract and on the website pages, this matter has already been resolved in Northfield, Minnesota without court action in favor of the street preachers from OPBC.
To understand the importance of protected speech and the bloody history of how it came to be in America, I would suggest reading “The History of the First Amendment,” which is Section IV of the book “God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application and which is free in online form at
http://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/contents/online-version-of-the-book-god-betrayed/the-history-of-the-first-amendment/ The free PDF of the book is at: http://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/contents/books/god-betrayedseparation-of-church-and-state-the-biblical-principles-and-the-american-application/3812-2/ One may find order information (available in both Kindle and softback) at: http://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/book-reviews/order-information/ “An Abridged History of the First Amendment” is available free at: http://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/contents/books/an-abridged-history-of-the-first-amendment/ That booklet is only published online.
Please contact me as soon as possible concerning this matter. I talked with Attorney Fischer on the phone a little while ago and he suggested calling Chief Bohlen. I called Chief Bohlen and left a voice mail. Our hope is that this whole matter will glorify God, uplift all involved and bring us closer together in love, strengthen and enforce principles which have made America great, and increase all our knowledge, wisdom and understanding of a vital matter. “And now abideth faith, hope, charity [God's type of love], these three; but the greatest of these is charity” (1 Corinthians 13.13).
Very truly yours and for His Glory, Jerald Finney Member of Old Paths Baptist Church 512-785-8445 512-385-0761 E-mail: email@example.com
P.S. Should you call and get a voice mail, please leave a message and I will return your call as soon as possible.
EN 4 My reply to Chief Bohlen’s e-mail:
Dear Chief Bohlen,
Thank you for your e-mail reply on June 26, 2014. I have been working on this reply for several days. I believe we are getting closer, although still a long way from, a resolution to this problem. It appears to me that I will not be able to resolve this by communicating with you, but I am making an attempt to do so at the request of your city attorney. Again, let me say that I am acting on behalf of the men who were there street preaching, not as an attorney. We are all members of OPBC, a non-legal entity, a First Amendment church (I will not explain what that means other than to say individual men are involved, and no legal entity). The street preachers of OPBC are doing everything possible to get this matter resolved without taxing the city, the church, and the court system. They are ordered by the Bible to love all men and so they are showing their love to you, your city attorney, your city elected officials, your police force, all your city peace officers, and the citizens of your city by proceeding according to the directives of the word of God. They wish to give all their energy to obedience to the Lord which includes preaching the Gospel in public. They have no desire to bring in an attorney who may ultimately ask for certain damages and attorney’s fees which may burden you all in the form of tax dollars used to pay court ordered judgments. They will do that only as a final resort if all efforts to get this resolved according to the law of the land fail.
Let me say that I contacted you because your city attorney, Kurt Fischer, asked me to do so. I wished to take the matter up with him, but out of courtesy, I decided to comply with his request. I am cc’ing this to the mayor, the city council members, and the city attorney. Since in your last e-mail you stated that your position is that of the police department and the city of Faribault, I am sending this letter with a note (included above this letter the mayor to you, the city council members, and the city attorney. it is included, as you know, in your letter since you saw it before getting to this part of the correspondence.).
In this letter, I will (1) apologize; (2) give you a link to a Youtube video of a policeman interacting with the men of OPBC on June 28, 2013 as they preached at a “gay” pride event, a link to a website page which shows what happened in Northfield MN when people complained about the street preaching in downtown Northfield and my credentials to speak on these matters; (3) present requests for clarification of your position and some other matters; (4) speak to the assault issue; (5) give you specific law which clearly proves that it is unlawful for a police officer to arrest someone under color of certain types of statutes (disorderly conduct, nuisance, littering, etc.) laws when they are speaking in the public forum; (6) Conclude.
(1) My apologies
I wish to apologize to you for what I feel I been wrong in my prior correspondence. I sent you a ton of educational material. I ask you to forgive me for that. The material I sent contained the law concerning the issue we are confronting. I should have specifically given you the important law. Below, I will present what it says and will attach the United States Supreme Court Cases which have laid down the law. You see, I am not the law, the city attorney is not the law, and the police are not the law; nor does any of our opinions have legal effect. The Supreme Court is the law of the American legal system and their opinions are the standard. If their opinion violates the highest law, then they will ultimately pay the price, but that is not our problem. Please forgive me for not being specific.
Let me also apologize for not checking Minnesota law and referring to that when I mentioned what I still feel was an assault by the “officer” in the video. As a citizen of America, I feel the same way the men approached by the Faribault “officials” (I will refer to them all that way, with the understanding that some of them were not “your” officers.). I will clarify below what I meant. I am offended when someone comes up to me and puts their hands, fingers, feet or anything else on me in a negative way, especially if I am doing nothing illegal. I consider that type of action against me to be an assault. I am even more offended when a “peace officer” does so; especially if he says that I can’t do something that is legal, as declared by the U.S. Supreme Court (for example, tells me that a city ordinance trumps the First Amendment which is directly the opposite of the truth – see below for the law), and tells me I am going to jail.
(2) Examples of peace officers who know the law and my credentials to speak on these matters
The men of OPBC have preached in Minneapolis/St. Paul without problem, even in the face of complaints. The police there know the law. They preached at a “gay” pride parade there on June 28, 2014. Go to the video below to see what a police officer who knows and enforces the law (The First Amendment to the United States Constitution) does:
To see what happened in Northfield, Minnesota when citizens vehemently complained to the police of that city in their efforts to try to get the police to cite the preachers from OPBC with violation of city ordinance(s) because of their refusal to quit their protected speech click the following link:
Finally, let me briefly explain that I both led and participated in the street preaching ministry of an Austin TX church for about 20 years. Over that time, many complaints were made to the police – “I am offended,” “I am alarmed,” “You can’t do that,” “The place for this is in the ‘church’ building, not on the street,” “You are making people mad,” “You are in front of my business (where we were closer to the door of the business in busy pedestrian and vehicle traffic than in the incident you mentioned there in Faribault, etc. We were careful not to be so close to his business door that we impeded the progress of pedestrians in any way.). What did the police do to us – they explained the law to the people and protected us. I was assaulted more than once and spit on during those times. One man assaulted me and left to get in a taxi, but some policemen detained him and talked to him. Then the policeman came up to me and said that the man stated that I assaulted him, but that he saw the whole thing and said I could complain and he would arrest the man for assault. I told him that I came to help, not hurt, people and thanked him for protecting us and for all his good work as a peace officer.
Furthermore, I am a constitutional lawyer and have studied free speech. I know the law concerning speech in the public forum (on government sidewalks, parks, etc.) I have successfully represented people who were speaking in the public forum at trial and had to appeal one case which was reversed and acquittal ordered on appeal. Links to my brief and other information on that appeal are linked to at:
My first request involves your position.According to your letter, your position is the position of both the city of Fairbault and also the Fairbault police department. I will try to contact the city officials and the city attorney to verify that. If we need to go further, we wish to include everyone involved in any civil actions that may follow. We do not wish to go that route, but just in case. I will be attempting to discuss this with the city attorney and officials so they will not be surprised; and also to allow them to verify or deny whether they share your position and whether your position is also the policy of the city, the city officials, and the city attorney.
My second request is for your clarification of your position – what will happen if the preachers preach in your town? I will give my interpretation of your e-mail and ask if it is correct. If it is not, may I ask that you clearly state your position? Again, may I ask if your position is the express or understood position of the city of Fairbault? If so, how and where may I verify their position? I will be asking your city attorney and city officials (those who I and get an e-mail address for) their position and policy and the position and/or policy of the city in the next few days.
Let me give you my interpretation of your position. You said that a citation can and will be issued for disorderly conduct just for street preaching. You then want a judge to decide the issue. As I read it, you believe that police can cite and/or arrest a street preacher because people are offended and alarmed in violation of Noribault City Ordinance Section 17-42. I agree with you that police can do so. I disagree that they can do so lawfully because Supreme Court case law (quoted below) makes crystal clear that the First Amendment forbids it – the First Amendment trumps Section 17.42 and all the disorderly conduct and nuisance statutes in America. By explicit law (see below) the Supreme Court has already decided this issue and lower federal courts have already, on many occasions, awarded damages to American citizens who filed civil rights (42 U.S.C.S. § 1983) lawsuits against officials who unlawfully arrested them under various statutes (including disorderly conduct statutes) for speech activity in the public forum. Of course, a street preacher can be cited and arrested for some crimes such as assault or criminal trespass even if he is street preaching (as long as the alleged crime is not just a pretext for arrest). Police have unlawfully (in violation of the First Amendment) arrested and/or cited street preachers and others who were speaking in the public forum and charged them with disorderly conduct, littering (when in fact, as proven in court, others were littering by throwing Gospel tracts given them by street preachers in the street), and other crimes. Ultimately, the results were acquittal, many cases being dismissed without trial, some going to trial and acquitted, some being convicted, but exonerated on appeal. Those processes have resulted in clear definition of what the law is for those who know how to research it.
The law regarding freedom of speech in the public forum has also been developed in other ways. In some cases, those whose constitutional rights have sued police officers (I will not, at this time, explain the law of qualified immunity of government officials) and cities and city officials successfully under the Civil Rights Act (42 U.S.C.S. § 1983). All that because the police and maybe the city and city officials did not know the law and, instead of doing their jobs and protecting the law-abiding preachers or other citizens who were involved in protected speech in the public forum, became a law unto themselves and abused their duty to uphold the law. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. The street preachers of OPBC truly wish to avoid all that. They have no desire to get anything from anyone unless your unlawful actions continue, their freedom of speech rights are violated, and/or you deprive them of their livelihood needed to take care of their families. Just being forced unlawfully to go to court by summons and/or arrest will interfere with these men’s ability to do their secular jobs and provide for their families. They will not seek vengeance, but they will seek justice. Hopefully, justice will be served without court action. They will love you, as ordered by God in his word which means they will do everything in their power to resolve this in the most expeditious manner possible without lawsuit or other court action. In addition, your citizens deserve better than that. What they need to know is the truth. According to the United States Supreme Court, here is no right not to be offended or alarmed in the public forum in America. I will give you some Supreme Court quotes below. Most thinking people, myself included, are offended or alarmed by something they see or hear every time they venture out in public. These men could have been offended by the unlawful actions of your officers and by the unlawful responses of the members of your community who called the police in hopes of arresting their protected speech.
On top of all that, your proposal that the men come preach, get a summons, go to court, and let the court decide leaves some very important questions. The men probably left later than they would have had the officers not interrupted them by violating their civil rights. What would happen if we followed your proposal and after the summons issued, kept preaching another hour? Two more hours? More complaints and more summons? Or would the preacher(s) be arrested? What if they came back to preach on the streets of Noribault before the judge decided the case or before the appeal, if needed, were finished? More citations, summons, possible arrests? Another important question is why should anyone go through this ridiculous exercise for a matter that has already been decided by the United States Supreme Court? Again, I will offer specific law below. I will attempt to get your city attorney to look at this. It is his job. I will also point it out to any city officials for whom I can obtain an e-mail address. In Northfield, the exact same thing happened, a police officer took it on himself to go to the city attorney, and the city attorney explained that the police could do nothing about street preaching under disorderly conduct, nuisance or other similar laws. I do not know exactly how much detail the city attorney gave, but the police in Northfield now abide by and understand their role. No civil suit of any kind with the collateral consequences to the city, to individual officers, to city officials, to the city attorney, and to the citizens of Northfield (of course, the consequences against the citizens would be indirect since it would all be paid for by their tax dollars). Again, the St. Paul/Minneapolis officers also know and act upon the law as shown in the video linked to above.
By the way, as to the incident at the liquor store, you officers were in the wrong there as well, as far as the video indicates. Paul, I do not believe, did not impede or intimidate customers. He may have offended them or scared them by telling them that the Bible teaches that “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” of by some other constitutionally protected speech. I will have to talk to him more about that. No need to get into great detail about that here. The main thing is that these two incidents (both of which I have on DVD) are establishing a pattern.
My third request is to ask you if you will send me the names, badge numbers (if any), and service or citation addresses of all the personnel who were involved in the incident and the liquor store incident. If similar incidents occur, I will remind the street preachers to get the names and badge numbers of all officers involved, and the names, addresses and phone numbers of any non-peace officers involved. Please instruct your officers to give that information if requested or not in the event of future incidents of the same nature. We would especially like to know the name and contact info. for the person who “tapped the preacher on the arm” ordered him to get down and said “he can’t do that, he’s going to jail,” etc. From whom did he get his authority? I will get the names and e-mail addresses s of the city officials, if possible, off the city website. As you know, I already have all the contact info. for the city attorney. Having all that information will speed up whatever court action(s), if any, takes place regarding this matter. If such action is necessary, OPBC will turn all the info over to the attorney who handles the case(s), thus lowering his billable hours. He will ask for attorney’s fees as well as for certain types of damages should a 1983 action be initiated. If I were licensed in Minnesota, I would handle it all myself pro bono without asking for anything more than out of pocket expenses be awarded by the court. My work on these type matters has always been pro bono. I regret that I cannot save you money in that way.
(4) The assault issue
Although the assault point is moot and although neither Mr. Pearson nor any of the other men will try to proceed on an assault charge, I must give it some attention in answer to your comments. These people are true Christians. If our Lord could suffer as he did at the hands of the religious and political crowds (because they were alarmed and offended because of what he said. We know the real reason for his crucifixion – my sin, your sin and the sins of the whole world put him on the cross), surely we can suffer such a minute affront from the same crowd. In fact, we are told to suffer such tribulation with joy.
One 2012 Webster’s Dictionary definition of “Assault” is “a : a threat or attempt to inflict offensive physical contact or bodily harm on a person (as by lifting a fist in a threatening manner) that puts the person in immediate danger of or in apprehension of such harm or contact.” One 2012 Webster’s Student definition of assault is: “2 : an unlawful attempt or threat to do harm to another.”
As to Minnesota law, I offer the following sections from the 2013 Minnesota Statutes: 609.02 DEFINITIONS. “Subdivision 1.Crime.“Crime” means conduct which is prohibited by statute and for which the actor may be sentenced to imprisonment, with or without a fine…. … “Subd. 4a.Petty misdemeanor.“Petty misdemeanor” means a petty offense which is prohibited by statute, which does not constitute a crime and for which a sentence of a fine of not more than $300 may be imposed…. “Subd. 10.Assault. “Assault” is: “(1) an act done with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death; or “(2) the intentional infliction of or attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another.” 609.2231 ASSAULT IN THE FOURTH DEGREE. “Subdivision 1.Peace officers. “Whoever physically assaults a peace officer licensed under section 626.845, subdivision 1, when that officer is effecting a lawful arrest or executing any other duty imposed by law is guilty of a gross misdemeanor and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than one year or to payment of a fine of not more than $3,000, or both. If the assault inflicts demonstrable bodily harm or the person intentionally throws or otherwise transfers bodily fluids or feces at or onto the officer, the person is guilty of a felony and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than three years or to payment of a fine of not more than $6,000, or both.” [This states that an assault can occur when there is no demonstrable bodily harm.] Given all the officer said and did, I consider it to be an assault. If I had been the preacher, I would have feared that something more physical (additional unlawful physical force against my person and possible unlawful arrest which usually involves at least some force such as handcuffing) was going to occur. That is the way Paul Pearson felt after the assault. He expressed that sentiment to others who were with him. That can be inferred from what the officer did and said and the way he did and said it. Since it was an officer, I would have had more fear of further unlawful action than if a non-peace officer had inflicted the assault. He, unlike a non-officer, was acting under color of law. Actions against a peace officer, even in self-defense against unlawful action, have resulted in harsh retaliation followed by lies about what happened. Most informed Americans now understand that police can become brutal at the drop of a hat and will lie about it if they think they can get away with it. Cameras help the citizen. One case in point involved Rodney King. Should not law-abiding Americans expect their peace officers to treat them with dignity and know the law? Again, since these street preachers are believers who follow the Lord Jesus Christ, and even though they are physically strong, they are very unlikely to exercise force against and physically hurt anyone unless protecting their families against harm.
(5) The law
The cases below are from the United States Supreme Court. These cases, and many others, clearly lay out the law which a peace officer is entrusted to enforce as regarding those who speak in the public forum (this includes those who preach in the public forum).
1. …The freedom of speech and press are among the fundamental personal rights and liberties which are secured to all persons by the Fourteenth Amendment against abridgment by the state. Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88, 95, 60 S.Ct. 736, 740, 84 L.ED. 1093 (1940).
2. Freedom of speech includes not only the spoken word, but also speech-related conduct, such as picketing, the wearing of arm bands and, in some recent highly publicized cases, flag burning as a type of political protest. Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748, 756.
3. “Whenever the title of streets and parks may rest, they have immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions. Such use of the streets and public places has, from ancient times, been a part of the privileges, immunities, rights, and liberties of citizens. The privilege of a citizen of the United States to use the streets and parks for communication of views on national questions may be regulated in the interest of all; it is not absolute, but relative, and must be exercised in subordination to the general comfort and convenience, and in consonance with peace and good order; but it must not, in the guise of regulation, be abridged or denied.’ Hague v. C.I.O., 307 U.S. 496, 515-516, 59 S.Ct. 954, 964, 83 L.Ed. 1423 (opinion of Mr. Justice Roberts, joined by Mr. Justice Black). Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham, Ala., 394 U.S. 147, 152, 89 S.Ct. 935, 22 L.Ed.2d 162 (1969).”
4. [Government control of access to its property, public forums, littering] The extent to which the government can control access to its property for expressive purposes depends on the nature of the forums. Reed v. State, 762 S.W.2d 640, 643 (Tex. App.—Texarkana 1988, pet. Ref’d) citing Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, 473 U.S. 788, 105 S.Ct. 3489, 87 L.Ed. 567 (1985); Olvera v. State, 806 S.W.2d 546 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991). Public forums are those areas which traditionally have been devoted to assembly and public debate, such as public streets, sidewalks, and parks. Id. “[The] Streets are natural and proper places for the dissemination of information and opinion; and one is not to have the exercise of his liberty of expression in appropriate places abridged on the plea that it may be exercised in some other place.” Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88, 97-98, 102, 105-106, 60 S.Ct. 736, 741-742, 744, 746, 84 L.Ed. 1093 (1940).
Although a municipality may enact regulations in the interest of the public safety, health, welfare, or convenience, these may not abridge the individual liberties secured by the constitution to those who wish to speak, write, print, or circulate information or opinion. Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 147, 60 S.Ct. 146, 84 L.Ed. 155 (1939). In Schneider, one appellant was charged with violating a law criminalizing the circulation and distribution of handbills designed, the city said, to prevent littering of the streets even though he did not litter himself—those to whom he handed the literature threw it down. The court said that the city could achieve the same thing without violating appellant’s freedom of speech by punishing those who threw the literature into the streets. Thornton v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88, 97-98, 102, 105-106, 60 S.Ct. 736, 741-742, 744, 746, 84 L.Ed. 1093 (1940):
- “A threat … is inherent in a penal statute … which does not aim specifically at evils within the allowable area of State control but, on the contrary, sweeps within its ambit other activities that in ordinary circumstances constitute an exercise of freedom of speech or of the press. The existence of such a statute, which readily lends itself to harsh and discriminatory enforcement by local prosecuting officials, against particular groups deemed to merit their displeasure, results in a continuous and pervasive restraining on all freedom of discussion that might reasonably be regarded as within its purview….
- “Freedom of discussion, if it would fulfill its historic function in this nation, must embrace all issues about which information is needed or appropriate to enable the members of society to cope with the exigencies of their period….
- “[The] streets are natural and proper places for the dissemination of information and opinion; and one is not to have the exercise of his liberty of expression in appropriate places abridged on the plea that it may be exercised in some other place.”
5. [Evils within allowable are of state control] Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1; 69 S. Ct. 894; 93 L. Ed. 1131; 1949 U.S. LEXIS 2400 (1949):
“Freedom of speech, though not absolute, is protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest. “The vitality of civil and political institutions in our society depends on free discussion. As Chief Justice Hughes wrote in De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U.S. 353, 365, it is only through free debate and free exchange of ideas that government remains responsive to the will of the people and peaceful change is effected. The right to speak freely and to promote diversity of ideas and programs is therefore one of the chief distinctions that sets us apart from totalitarian regimes. “Accordingly a function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging. It may strike at prejudices and preconceptions and have profound unsettling effects as it presses for acceptance of an idea. That is why freedom of speech, though not absolute, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, supra, pp. 571-572, is nevertheless protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest. See Bridges v. California, 314 U.S. 252, 262; Craig v. Harney, 331 U.S. 367, 373. There is no room under our Constitution for a more restrictive view. For the alternative would lead to standardization of ideas either by legislatures, courts, or dominant political or community groups. “The ordinance as construed by the trial court seriously invaded this province. It permitted conviction of petitioner if his speech stirred people to anger, invited public dispute, or brought about a condition of unrest. A conviction resting on any of those grounds may not stand.”
Substantive evils within the allowable are of state control are obstructing or unreasonable interfering with ingress to and egress for enumerated public places, blocking sidewalks, obstructing traffic, littering streets, committing assaults, and engaging in countless other forms of anti-social conduct. Olvera v. State, 806 S.W.2d 546, 548-549 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991) citing Coates v. Cincinnati, 402 U.S. 611, 91, S.Ct. 1686, 29 L.Ed.2d 214 (1971) and Cameron v. Johnson, 390 U.S. 611, 88 S.Ct. 1335, 20 L.Ed.2d 182 (1968). Evil within allowable areas of state control include molestation or interference with person and vehicles, obstruction of pedestrians and automobiles, threatening or intimidating or coercing anyone, making loud noises, unpeaceful and disorderly conduct, acts of violence, and breaches of the peace.See, e.g., Carlson v. California, 310 U.S. 106, 60 S.Ct. 746, 84 L.Ed. 1104 (1940), Thornhill v. State of Alabama, 310 U.S. 88, 60 S.Ct. 736 (1940), Olvera v. State, 806 S.W. 2d 546 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991).
Municipal legislation meant to keep community streets open and available for movement of people and property is constitutional so long as the legislation does not abridge constitutional liberty of one to impart information through speech and distribution of literature. Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 147, 160, 60 S.Ct. 146, 150, 84 L.Ed. 155 (1939). Crimes may be punished by law, but the freedom of speech and the press may not be abridged in the guise of regulations by the governing entity to prevent littering, fraud, or to promote the public health, welfare, or convenience. Id. While declaring laws unconstitutional which infringe upon first amendment rights, the Court has made clear what a city may do to punish evils within the allowable areas of state control: “[A] city is free to prevent people from blocking sidewalks,obstructing traffic, littering streets, committing assaults, or engaging in countless other forms of anti-social conduct. It can do so through the enactment and enforcement of ordinances directed with reasonable specificity toward the conduct to be prohibited.” Coates v. Cincinnati, 402 U.S. 611, 91, S.Ct. 1686, 29 L.Ed.2d 214 (1971).
7. [Disorderly conduct] In Gooding v. Wilson, 405 U.S. 518, 92 S. Ct. 1103, 31 L. Ed. 2d 408, a defendant was found guilty of using opprobrious words and abusive language in violation of a Georgia statute. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals declared the statute unconstitutionally vague and broad and set aside defendant’s conviction. “The constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech forbid the States to punish the use of words or language not within “narrowly limited classes of speech.” Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568, 571 (1942). Even as to such a class, however, because “the line between speech unconditionally guaranteed and speech which may legitimately be regulated, suppressed, or punished is finely drawn,” Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513, 525 (1958), “in every case the power to regulate must be so exercised as not, in attaining a permissible end, unduly to infringe the protected freedom,” Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 304 (1940).” Government may pass laws which punish “fighting words.” In Chaplinsky, we sustained a conviction under Chapter 378, § 2, of the Public Laws of New Hampshire, which provided: “No person shall address any offensive, derisive or annoying word to any other person who is lawfully in any street or other public place, nor call him by any offensive or derisive name . . . . ‘Chaplinsky was convicted for addressing to another on a public sidewalk the words, ‘You are a _ _ _ damned racketeer,’ and ‘a damned Fascist and the whole government of Rochester are Fascists or agents of Fascists.’ Chaplinsky challenged the constitutionality of the statute as inhibiting freedom of expression because it was vague and indefinite. The Supreme Court of New Hampshire, however, ‘long before [*523] the words for which Chaplinsky was convicted,’ sharply limited the statutory language ‘offensive, derisive or annoying word’ to ‘fighting” words’: “No words were forbidden except such as have a direct tendency to cause acts of violence by the person to whom, individually, the remark is addressed. . . .
- “The test is what men of common intelligence would understand would be words likely to cause an average addressee to fight. . . . Derisive and annoying words can be taken as coming within the purview of the statute . . . only when they have this characteristic of plainly tending to excite the addressee to a breach of the peace….
- “The dictionary definitions of ‘opprobrious’ and ‘abusive’ give them greater reach than “fighting” words. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (1961) defined ‘opprobrious’ as ‘conveying or intended to convey disgrace,’ and ‘abusive’ as including ‘harsh insulting language.’ Georgia appellate decisions have construed § 26-6303 to apply to utterances that, although within these definitions, are not ‘fighting’ words as Chaplinsky defines them.”
8. The state of Louisiana both directly [see Cox v. State of Louisiana, 379 U.S. 559, 574, 85 S.Ct. 476, 486 (1965)] and indirectly [see Cox] attempted unsuccessfully to deny freedom of speech to picketers. The United States Supreme Court ruled against the state in both cases. Louisiana indirectly tried to abridge appellant’s freedom of speech and assembly by charging him with violation of “disturbing the peach” and “obstructing a public passage” penal statutes. 379 U.S. 536, 85 S.Ct. 453 (1965).
As to the “breach of the peace” charge, the Court stated that its independent examination of the record, which it is required to make, shows no conduct which the state had a right to prohibit as a breach of the peace. Id. At 545, 85 S.Ct. at 459. In addressing the “obstructing a public passage” conviction, the Court addressed the issue of the “right of a State or municipality to regulate the use of city streets and other facilities to assure the safety and convenience of the people in their use and concomitant right of the people of free speech and assembly.” Id. At 554, 85 S.Ct. at 464. There was no doubt that the sidewalk was obstructed by the picketers. Id. At 553, 85 S.Ct. at 464. The Court said that the statute, as applied, violated the appellant’s Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech andassembly. Id. At 558, 85 S.Ct. at 466.
9. [As to when a governmental entity seeks to take away one’s freedom to display signs and banners in conjunction with his protected speech.] A municipality in Carlson v. People of State of California, 310 U.S. 106, 60 S.Ct. 746, 84 L.Ed. 1104 (1940) sought to enforce an ordinance which directly infringed on appellant’s freedom of speech. Carlson declared unconstitutional a municipal ordinance which declared it unlawful for any person, in or upon any public street, highway, sidewalk, alley or other public place … to carry or display any sign or banner in the vicinity of any place of business for the purpose of inducing or attempting to induce an person to refrain from purchasing merchandise or performing services or labor. Id. (emphasis mine).
Spence v. Washington, 418 U.S. 405, 94 S.Ct. 2727, 41 L.Ed. 2d. 842 (1974):
[Appellant had displayed an American flag upside down out of his apartment window with a peace symbol attached. at 405-406. The Court noted, and the state conceded, that appellant engaged in a form of communication. at 409, 94 S.Ct. at 2729-2730.
- To apply an ordinance to prevent the display of banners or signs in conjunction with protected speech activity violates the speaker’s right to freedom of speech and the rights of the people to whom the speech was directed.
- “An assertion that ‘Jesus Saves,’ that ‘Abortion is Murder,’ that every woman has the ‘right to Choose,’ or that ‘Alcohol Kills,’ may have a claim to constitutional exemption from the ordinance [which prohibited certain political campaign signs] that is just as strong as ‘Roland Vincent—City Council.’ To create an exception for … political speech and not these other types of speech might create a risk of engaging in constitutionally forbidden content discrimination.” Members of City Council v. Taxpayers for Vincent, 466 U.S. 789, 104 S.Ct. 2118, 80 L.Ed. 772. Under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, not to mention the First Amendment itself, government may not grant the use of a forum to people whose views it finds acceptable, but deny use to those wishing to express less favored or more controversial views. Police Department of City of Chicago v. Mosley, 408 U.S. 92, 96, 92 S.Ct. 2286, 2290, 33 L.Ed. 212 (1972)(Holding a Chicago ordinance unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in a case where the equal protection claim was closely intertwined with First Amendment interests)(p 27 of brief). Once a forum is opened up to assembly or speaking by some groups, government may not prohibit others from assembling or speaking on the basis of what they intend to say. Id. Selective exclusions from a public forum may not be based on content alone, and may not be justified by reference to content alone. Id. Mr. Justice Black called an attempt by a government to pick and choose among the views it is willing to have discussed in picketing activities “censorship in its most odious form, unconstitutional under both the First and Fourteenth Amendments.” Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536, 85 S. Ct. 453, 13 L.Ed. 2d 471 (1965) cited in 408 U.S. 92, 98-99, 92 S.Ct. 2291; Carey v. Brown, 477 U.S. 455, 100 S.Ct. 2286, 65 L.Ed. 263 (1980) reaffirmed Mosley.
- Even if the purpose of an ordinance does not specifically aim at protected speech, it may indicectly attempt to deny freedom of speech (See p. 34 of brief in the Steve Drake case which is in PDF form on the website.). Even if the purpose of [an ordinance] is to keep community streets open and available for movement of people and property or to prevent littering, fraud, to promote the public health, welfare, or convenience, to prevent breaches of the peace or other crimes, it is constitutional only so long as it does not abridge constitutional liberty or one to impart information through speech and the distribution of literature. See Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 147, 60 S.Ct. 146, 84 L.Ed. 155 (1939); Coates v. Cincinnati, 402 U.S. 611, 91 S.Ct. 1686, 29 L.Ed. 2d 214 (1971); Cox v. State of Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536, 85 S.Ct. 453 (1965).
Again, the men of OPBC salute you. They are endeavoring to do everything possible to resolve this matter quickly in accordance with man’s law and with the law of God. The First Amendment which provides for separation of church and state and freedom to practice one’s religion, freedom of assembly, press, speech, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances says that cities, city officers, city attorney’s, and city elected officials are to protect the First Amendment freedoms of all citizens, including those who choose to speak in the public forum. In love, the men of OPBC are trying to treat all the people of Noribault with godly love. Accordingly, we are seeking to avoid further action in the legal arena, an action which will result in expense to your city and also detract our people from their primary duties to their Lord
EN 5 I sent the e-mail below to the Faribault Mayor, City Attorney, City Council members, and Chief Bohlen. In the e-mail was the note. Attached to the e-mail was a link to the online article which described what happened and linked to the Youtube videos which showed what happened [I am omitting that here since one can go directly to the link to see it], some other information, my letter to Chief Bohlen which had replied to his June 26 letter, and a final letter to all the above mentioned Faribault officials.
Note to City Attorney Fischer, Mayor Jasinske, and Faribault City Council members: The letter to Chief Bohlen is below this rather lengthy note. The city attorney asked me to call Chief Bohlen rather than seeking resolution through him. Out of courtesy, I complied with his request even though I did not personally feel that a police officer would have the necessary expertise to delve into the legal issues. I do not mean that as an insult. I can tell from his e-mail, which is copied and pasted at the end and which was very courteous, that Chief Bohlen has the best interests of everyone at heart; but I could also tell that he does not understand the law regarding these matters. He discussed the proper protocols in his letter; I have no quarrel with that when applied to lawbreakers. However, when that protocol is used against law-abiding citizens, it makes the officer who applies it a lawbreaker subject to civil, if not criminal, litigation. I would not know how to do the job of law enforcement because I have no law enforcement training. That is his expertise. Examining, understanding, and litigating the law is mine. That is why the other members of Old Paths Baptist Church (“OPBC”) asked me, a lawyer, to try to resolve this matter as a member of OPBC without bringing in a lawyer. Should legal action come about, an attorney who is licensed in Minnesota (or a pro hoc vice attorney) will represent the men.
Although the Chief understands police protocol, he reveals in his letter that he understands neither (1) the law of free speech in the public forum and the freedom of those who exercise their First Amendment speech rights in that forum nor (2) the role of the police officer when such speech is complained about. Chief Bohlen stated in the letter: “The City of Faribault will continue to enforce the law and protect all citizen rights, as well as free speech.” In that statement, he indicates that he speaks for the City of Faribault. I want to make sure that is so because he also stated, “I am confident that our State Statute would comply with the Hierarchy of Law and win challenges.” That is the first time he mentioned “our state statute.” I do not know which statute he is talking about since the officers who approached the men cited a city statute. He then gave his legal opinion concerning the relationship between the law of free speech in America and the guidelines he follows concerning enforcement of certain state and local ordinances when such ordinances come into conflict with Constitutionally protected speech in the public forum. I take great issue with his legal position; I believe that he is totally off base.
I want to make sure that the Chief speaks for you all before proceeding. I would ask that you all review these matters. I need to know for sure that Chief Bohlen is, in fact, stating the official position of you all so that in the event future action is called for, our attorney will know who to include in any legal litigation. Should an attorney be called in to take legal action on behalf of the street preachers, he will be informed of your actions and responses – common sense would dictate that no response on your part will indicate that your position and the city’s position is that you support Chief Bohlen’s position and actions and that he speaks for you. You speak for your city. Whatever position you take will also implicate the entire city.
To give you relevant facts, I have copied and pasted facts about the matter directly below. I have also posted the story on the page which is available by clicking following link (left click and scroll down to “June 21, 2013 Update” once you access the link):
Notice that on the above entry and in the copied and pasted page below are links to 2 Youtube videos which you may view which record the whole encounter with the Faribault officials.
I copied and pasted the page mentioned in the last paragraph here One can go to the link to see it. It is essentially the same now as then.:
I am e-mailing this to: Chief of police: Chief Andy Bohlen <firstname.lastname@example.org> City Attorney: Kurt Fischer <email@example.com> Mayor: John Jasinske <firstname.lastname@example.org>
City Council members: David Albers (or Ablers – its 2 ways on website) David Albers <email@example.com >; David Ablers <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Kay Duchene <email@example.com>; John Rowan <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Steve Underdahl <email@example.com >; Joan VanDyke <jvandyke@@ci.faribault.mn.us >; Kevin Voracek <firstname.lastname@example.org >:
I got the e-mail addresses of the mayor and council members off the city website. Council member Albers or Ablers his 2 spellings which differ – one in the spelling of his name and one in the e-mail listing. If the addresses and names are no longer the same, please let me know.
You may read the cases I cite for yourselves to verify that I am not trying to deceive you. If you would like to have a case or cases which is cited below e-mailed to you, let me know. I have most of the cases I quote from below available in Word documents.
Letter To Chief Bohlen:
The letter was included in the e-mail. I am not reproducing it here since it is in EN 3 Above.
EN 6 My June 30, 2014 e-mail to the Faribault Mayor, Chief of Police, City Attorney, and City Council Members:
Dear Chief Bohlen, Honorable Mayor Jasinske, and Faribault City Council members:
The Supreme Court, on June 26, 2014, handed down another First Amendment speech case dealing with speech in the public forum. In a 9-0 decision, the Court struck down a Mass. law which violated long established principles regarding speech in the public forum. The case is linked to below (just click the name to go directly to it). I have included some quotes from the case. I also link to a Texas case which just came down in which police arrested a street preacher and the Texas Court ruled in his favor. Please take note of these cases.
MCCULLEN ET AL. v. COAKLEY, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MASSACHUSETTS, ET AL. struck down a state law creating 35 foot buffer zones around abortion clinics. Some excerpts from the case follow (be sure to read the entire case – click to the above link to go directly to the case):
Held: The Massachusetts Act violates the First Amendment. Pp. 8–30. (a) By its very terms, the Act restricts access to “public way[s]” and “sidewalk[s],” places that have traditionally been open for speech activities and that the Court has accordingly labeled “traditional public fora,” Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, 555 U. S. 460, 469. The government’s ability to regulate speech in such locations is “very limited.” United States v. Grace, 461 U. S. 171, 177. “[E]ven in a public forum,” however, “the government may impose reasonable restrictions on the time, place, or manner of protected speech, provided the restrictions ‘are justified without reference to the content of the regulated speech, that they are narrowly tailored to serve a significant governmental interest, and that they leave open ample alternative channels for communication of the information,’ ” Ward, supra, at 791. Pp. 8–10….
(1) The buffer zones serve the Commonwealth’s legitimate interests in maintaining public safety on streets and sidewalks and in preserving access to adjacent reproductive healthcare facilities. See Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western N. Y., 519 U. S. 357, 376. At the same time, however, they impose serious burdens on petitioners’ speech, depriving them of their two primary methods of communicating with arriving patients: close, personal conversations and distribution of literature. Those forms of expression have historically been closely associated with the transmission of ideas. While the Act may allow petitioners to “protest” outside the buffer zones, petitioners are not protestors; they seek not merely to express their opposition to abortion, but to engage in personal, caring, consensual conversations with women about various alternatives. It is thus no answer to say that petitioners can still be seen and heard by women within the buffer zones. If all that the women can see and hear are vociferous opponents of abortion, then the buffer zones have effectively stifled petitioners’ message. Pp. 19–23.
(2) The buffer zones burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s asserted interests. Subsection (e) of the Act already prohibits deliberate obstruction of clinic entrances. Massachusetts could also enact legislation similar to the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994, 18 U. S. C. §248(a)(1), which imposes criminal and civil sanctions for obstructing, intimidating, or interfering with persons obtaining or providing reproductive health services. Obstruction of clinic driveways can readily be addressed through existing local traffic ordinances. While the Commonwealth contends that individuals can inadvertently obstruct access to clinics simply by gathering in large numbers, that problem could be addressed through a law requiring crowds blocking a clinic entrance to disperse for a limited period when ordered to do so by the police. In any event, crowding appears to be a problem onlyat the Boston clinic, and even there, only on Saturday mornings.
It is no accident that public streets and sidewalks have developed as venues for the exchange of ideas. Even today, they remain one of the few places where a speaker can be confident that he is not simply preaching to the choir. With respect to other means of communication, an individual confronted with an uncomfortable message can always turn the page, change the channel, or leave the Web site. Not so on public streets and sidewalks. There, a listener often encounters speech he might otherwise tune out. In light of the First Amendment’s purpose “to preserve an uninhibited marketplace of ideas in which truth will ultimately prevail,” FCC v. League of Women Voters of Cal., 468 U. S. 364, 377 (1984) (internal quotation marks omitted), this aspect of traditional public fora is a virtue, not a vice. In short, traditional public fora are areas that have historically been open to the public for speech activities. Thus, even though the Act says nothing about speech on its face, there is no doubt—and respondents do not dispute—that it restricts access to traditional public fora and is therefore subject to First Amendment scrutiny. See Brief for Respondents 26 (although “[b]y its terms, the Act regulates only conduct,” it “incidentally regulates the place and time of protected speech”).
In short, traditional public fora are areas that have historically been open to the public for speech activities. Thus, even though the Act says nothing about speech on its face, there is no doubt—and respondents do not dispute—that it restricts access to traditional public fora and is therefore subject to First Amendment scrutiny. See Brief for Respondents 26 (although “[b]y its terms, the Act regulates only conduct,” it “incidentally regulates the place and time of protected speech”). Consistent with the traditionally open character of public streets and sidewalks, we have held that the government’s ability to restrict speech in such locations is “very limited.” Grace, supra, at 177. In particular, the guiding First Amendment principle that the “government has no power to restrict expression because of its message, its ideas, its subject matter, or its content” applies with full force in a traditional public forum. Police Dept. of Chicago v. Mosley, 408 U. S. 92, 95 (1972). As a general rule, in such a forum the government may not “selectively . . . shield the public from some kinds of speech on the ground that they are more offensive than others.” Erznoznik v. Jacksonville, 422 U. S. 205, 209 (1975).
Links to a couple of articles dealing with the McCullen v. Oakley
Supreme Court strikes down abortion clinic buffer zone, June 26, 2014, Richard Wolf, USA Today
Supreme Court, 9-0, nixes 35 foot ‘buffer zone’ at abortion clinic, June 26, 2014, Warren Richey, The Christian Science Monitor
Click the following to go to article from June 13, 2014: “VICTORY: Texas Court Affirms First Amendment Rights of Street Preachers Arrested for Engaging in Sidewalk Protest and Crossing a Police Line.” Click the following to go to the Texas Court of Appeals opinion: Faust v. Texas.
I know that you are all busy, but I would ask you to please let the men of OPBC know as soon as you can as to what your city policy is going to be regarding their First Amendment right to speak in the public forum.
Thank you for your courtesies in this matter and for your quick attention to the Constitutional issue.
Very Truly Yours, Jerald Finney
May 4, 2013
The following is a complete list (with links) to prior publications of letters concerning this blog. Notice the article Letters from Pastors Regarding Hyles/Schaap and Other Articles which was published September 9, 2010, not long after the 2010 Hyles/Schaap articles were published:
To download a document, right click the link, then left click “Download Linked File” or “Download Linked File As.”
Note. A “+” represents a supportive letter, a “-” a negative letter, and neither + nor minus a neutral letter
II. (+) Letter no. 1 received from Brother Rick Bagwell in response to article “Monumental ’666-CLA’ Sermon that was attacked by Satan” received on May 2, 2014 regarding a letter he received from a youth pastor regarding the relationship of church, the believer, and the state
a. My Reply to Brother Rick’s letter above
b. Brother Rick’s reply to my reply
III. (+) Letter no. 2 received on February 28, 2014 from Pastor William Raymond from regarding “The Folly of all so-called Christian Patriot Remedies and a ‘Better’ Human Government”and my reply.
IV. (-) Letter no. 3 received on February 24, 2014 from [man] asking for a sample trust document with replies back and forth between he and I.
V. (+) Letter no. 4 received on Facebook on November 27, 2013 regarding church 501c3 status and other matters and my reply.
VI. (+) Letter no. 5 received on September 23, 2013 from [man] commenting upon article American Abuse of Romans 13.1-2 and Related Verses
VII. () Letter no. 6 received on October 1, 2013 from [man] regarding “starting a church” and and my reply
VIII. (+) Letter no. 7 received from Joshua Joscelyn on Facebook on July 22, 2013 regarding a friend who believes in theocracy and marriage of church/state, that abuses of that doctrine doesn’t mean the doctrine is wrong and asking about “the best biblical base for liberty of conscience” with replies back and forth between Joshua and I
IX. (+) Letter no. 8 received on July 3, 2013 from Rev. Paul Wayne Flotz on “trouble in the assemblies” and my reply
X. () Letter No. 9 received on June 13, 2013 from [woman] on “as pastor’s view 501c3″ and my reply
XI. (+) Letter no. 10 from Brother Stanly Rogers on Facebook regarding church Bible studies on Romans 13
XII. (+) Letter No. 11 received on April 11, 2012 from Elwood Hays, an old and dear friend concerning this “Separation of Church and State Law Ministry” and my reply
XIII. Letter no. 12 received on July 28, 2011 from [Steve, a church member of a church in Ohio] concerning liability of church members of an unincorporated church with replies back and forth between he and I
XIV. (+)Letter no. 13 received on June 4, 2011 from Pastor Brandon Teague regarding Pastor Jason Cooley’s sermon “Whose House Is It Anyway” and my reply
XV. (+) Letter no. 14 received on May 3, 2011 from Brandon, expressing concerns because of inconsistency of his pastor’s preaching concerning headship of Christ over His church yet the church is incorporated and my reply
XVI. Letter no. 15 received on March 13, 2011 from  on “how can a church be set up and own property?”
This article presents more e-mails from pastors and others with their comments, concerns, and questions concerning articles on this blog, and my replies to those e-mails. These e-mail letters not only raise important questions which need to be addressed, but also give insights into the thoughts of pastors and other believers and non-believers.
II. Letter no. 1 received from Brother Rick Bagwell in response to article “Monumental ’666-CLA’ Sermon that was attacked by Satan” received on May 2, 2014 regarding a letter he received from a youth pastor regarding the false fundamental position on 501(c)(3)
Brother Finney I sent an article you sent to me about 666 CLA to an ewelryentl. A Church I am considering joining. I may call you by phone later. Anyway here is his reply. I know he is wrong on many points and don’t know how to explain it to him.
On Friday, May 2, 2014 12:01 PM, [A youth pastor and heretic on this matter] wrote:
It’s funny how God works. Just this morning I read Romans 13.
Rom 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Rom 13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
Rom 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
Rom 13:4 For he (whoever it is that is in charge or in office) is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
Rom 13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
Rom 13:6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
Rom 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
I might not like who is in political offices. I might not not like what is going on in our government or any other government. According to what I read in Romans 13 The very God that created the universe, has put powers (government) in place.
I will exercise my right to vote as an American, but God will have his soverine way. And if he chooses to bless or judge through government, all we should say is “THANK YOU LORD!”
Dear Brother Rick:
I have totally and biblically proven the arguments of this person to be false (really, his arguments are ludicrous and Satan loves to hear a believer rely on them). If he loves the Lord, and wants to know the truth, he can go to the resources below. He has never studied these matters (that is obvious from his simplistic arguments which are easily shown to be false with honest Bible study). He is a parrot as to these matters. He is simply repeating words that have been taught him. One cannot give easy answers to the deeper things of God which are very important to understand if one is to fight as a good soldier of Christ the spiritual warfare we are commanded to fight.
I recommend to refer him to the following verses:
Ephesians 6:10-20 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.|”
2 Peter 1:2-10 “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:”
The above are just two of the many verses he needs to look at in regards to these matters. For a comprehensive understanding of the spiritual warfare believers are called to fight, I recommend that you refer him to:
Let me say that a church can choose to operate according to biblical principle without persecution in America because of the First Amendment to the US constitution. Even should a church not decide to do so, that church and the members should continue to operate as God laid out in the New Testament. This is all explained in much detail in my writings. In addition, a believer should “obey God rather than men.”
I recommend, for an understanding of Romans 13, 1 Pe. 2.13, 1 Ti. 2.1-6, Matthew 17.24-27, and the Render unto Caesar argument used by heretics to support unlimited submission to the civil government the following resource:
As to the correct understanding of the biblical doctrine of government, I recommend the following:
As to the correct understanding of the biblical doctrine of church, I recommend the following:
As to the correct understanding of the biblical doctrine of separation of church and state, I recommend the following:
For an understanding of church incorporation and 501c3 I recommend the following:
For an understanding of the position of true believers on the issue of separation of church and state I recommend:
I doubt he wishes to study these matters. Even our Lord could not get through to the Pharisees, etc. because of they were blinded by the god of this world. Most fundamental Baptist preachers are likewise blinded to many biblical truths because of lack of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. They have built religious organizations upon human reasoning (really Satanic reasoning because it is not of God and therefore must be of Satan).
Dear Brother Rick, you deserve better than what this man’s church has to offer. You deserve a church that seeks to follow the Lord, not fundmentalism. Yes, God can and does save some in spite of these heretical (some apostate) pastors and churches, but these type pastors and churches are totally out of biblical order. I consider you to be a great man of God and offer this advice in love.
Offer him the resources above, but my guess is that he has neither the time nor desire to know the truth.
For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney
Brother Rick’s reply to my reply
Brother Finney I am with you on his ability to listen. He is a Youth Pastor and like MOST preachers/pastors they want to talk but FAIL to listen to the truth. For the most part the Church is Fundamental. When I talked to the Pastor [another individual] I asked him if the Church is 501-C-3 his reply was it is and it isn’t. Now that’s like asking what is your favorite color and someone says PLAID. I believe the Pastor is either trying to go the 501-C-3 route OR he is trying to steer the Church AWAY from it. Not sure.
I have talked to Pastors in the area and they will ignore the question or avoid any sort of dialog on the subject. Actually avoiding me. The Bible says to forsake not the assembly of yourselves together. It also says if two do not agree and so forth. I also talked to the Youth Pastor about Deut. 22:5 he doesn’t think it is wrong for women to wear pants. They say the Church is NOT Southern Baptist, I found it to have Southern Baptist leanings. Most Churches are Country Clubs. Entertainment is the norm. I shall pray about the matter.
III. Letter no. 2 received on February 28, 2014 from Pastor William Raymond from regarding “The Folly of all so-called Christian Patriot Remedies and a ‘Better’ Human Government”
The Folly of all so-called Christian Patriot Remedies and a “Better” Human I
In response to several brothers who were kind enough to included me in their discussion of certain so-called Christian Patriot remedies and their much venerated – and in other cases worshiped – American Constitution, I was led of the Lord to reply with the following letter in defense of the Kingdom. Understand, it is never wise to seek to build something in substitution of that which God in His infinite wisdom has already built perfectly for us. Herein lies the folly of all so-called Christian Patriot movement remedies and the human government by Constitution that they hold out to be the cure for all political sickness. In the end they are just as deadly as that which they seek to circumvent, for all human solutions in the end are pure folly.
May the Lord Jesus be lifted up in this message of truth and may we who seek to serve Him in spirit and in truth open our hearts to the profound realities which He protectively hides from the wise and prudent in order to maintain the purity of His Kingdom.
Greeting in Christ Jesus to all,
I have been reading these posts and have come to the conclusion that all proposed remedies I see here amount pretty much to nothing more than various failed attempt to reinvent the wheel. Please let me explain. While you all may have had a victory or two here and there, for the most part all such efforts of men are always destine to fail from the beginning and here’s why. One cannot step out of the Beast’s system and into a governmental vacuum – spiritual or otherwise. There must be another government to receive you and thank God Almighty He has provided us that Government hosted – at least in theory – by the United States Government.
For over 2000 years now we have had the Lord’s perfect solution right in front of our faces and have been looking straight through it! That solution, the Father’s only solution, is His current day Kingdom in the form of the local, community ekklesia: a fully Lawful government upon His shoulder (i.e., His body) that is immune not exempt from the secular (anti-Christ) current provisional government and is officially recognized as such via The First Amendment.
The problem is that the body of Christ, over all this time, has utterly failed her calling and holy appointment to establish that Government which He alone mandated the commissioning of. Although we have the perfect picture and model of that government to draw from as recorded in the New Testament, we, as the body of Christ, have ignored it. Likewise, not only has the body of Christ failed to build upon the foundation He gave us for a place of protection and safety, we have lost essentially everything the early church and apostles did – all the real progress they made – in establishing His Kingdom for this current dispensation. All that’s left 2000+ years later is a powerless and pathetic “Christian religion” of people who have sold their spiritual birthright for a mess of corporate 501 I (3) pottage: literally, a church structure under the legal lordship of the Beast – Satan’s political surrogate! As such, the church has willingly waived her Divine Immunity in Christ in exchange for a state granted exemption that is subject to constant ongoing review and approval.
We were commanded by Christ to “come out of her my people” and “come out from among them” to establish His holy Kingdom (holy meaning separate). Instead, those falsely calling themselves “believers” have invented denominations and religions that are legally joined (unequally yoked) with the dead and have attempted in vain to reform political “parties” and groups who have no interest whatsoever in building the true Kingdom of Christ Jesus. The so-called religious right is a perfect example of this as likewise are all the human fools on the political left.
As you may know, I spent five years at Salem attempting to establish the government of our local community ekklesia there in accordance to the New Testament model. All that came to a grinding halt in 2005 when the church was seized under court order by the New Jersey State Police Counter Terrorism Division and the local sheriff. Kathy and I were arrested under provisions of The Patriot Act and our lives changed forever. I mention this only to establish my spiritual credentials in the matters wherein I speak and to illustrate how relentless the Beast can be even when everything seems to be “in order”.
To my three brothers to whom I reply here: your goals to separate from the world are a good and worthy demonstration of your intent but unless you do so under the clear and specified authority and structure of the Christ’s holy ekklesia – an already established Lawfully recognized government – our Christ cannot bless nor take even partial part in those lesser efforts.
Please understand I mean this criticism in the spirit and love of Christ, nevertheless also in the authority of my calling as His ambassador.
Peace and blessing in the love of Christ Jesus to all,
William Raymond: pastor & ambassador for the Christ
Some say I am a fool,
And this I say is true.
I am a fool for Christ,
But whose fool are you?
I agree, Pastor Raymond, on the folly of efforts of so called “Christian Patriots.”
Only Christ will be able to crush the world powers and the beast. It is inevitable that the end times will unfold just as foretold in the word of God. The political and religious beasts will rule for a short time; then, Armeggedon and the establishment of His kingdom here on earth (by our Lord, not by man or by the church on earth, but rather by Him leading his universal assembly to crush the beast and the armies of the world). No church, believer, or group of believers will be able to stop what is coming. All a believer and a church can do here on earth is to operate according to the principles of the word of God in the life and liberty He gives when He saves.
Only a small remnant of professed believers and churches follow Christ. So-called Christians who (1) know nothing about biblical principles for a church, for governments (individual, family, and human or civil), and for the relationship of church and state and (2) follow revisionist history and law, seek to win America back for God. They operate without biblical, historical, or legal knowledge. The are do-gooders who are doing no good (they are doing bad in that they are actually doing the work of anti-Christ) because their activism is without knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.
I was with them in the Republican Party for 20 years. I saw America getting more and more evil in spite of all our efforts. Since I left politics they keep doing the same things while things continue to grow worse at an accelerating rate in the moral cesspool called America. I left political activism when the Lord, through my extensive studies, showed me the folly of what I was doing, and that what I was doing there was not according to wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.
Yet ever seeking, they never come to the knowledge of the truth. The fact is that they are not seeking truth, because they have been blinded by the god of this world.
Their lives are not under God, so how do they hope to bring America back under God?
Their families are not under God, so how do they hope to bring America back under God?
Their churches are not under God, so how do they hope to bring America back under God?
And yet they reject knowledge. Multitudes of so-called believers in America even reject clear biblical teaching on repentance and a changed life after salvation. They reject and criticize Bible teaching and preaching on the subject. In other words, they even take a Satanic position on the fundamental principle of salvation.
But praise the Lord! He has given his children the victory, and they will be victorious even if martyred for the faith, while those professed Christians who have never really been saved bow down to the beast. (See The Voice of the Martyrs, August 2005, p2, “You Will Always Have Your Groupies” which is at the bottom of the following article: Biblical doctrine of the Church)
Even so, come Lord Jesus. I pray the Lord that he will give me the courage to act on my words above if and when the time comes.
For His Glory,
IV. Letter no. 3 received on February 24, 2014 from [man] asking for a sample trust document
Would it possible for you to provide me with a sample trust document?
My reply on February 24, 2013
Sorry. Trust documents can be found in the law books. I don’t know you, etc. This is a ministry for the glory of God and is operated according to biblical order. No insult intended.
OK Mr. Finney, I apologize for bothering you, I won’t make that mistake again. I admire your work and thought you were an attorney. The Glory of God and to operate according to biblical order is my motivation for asking.
Dear Mr. Trout,
I am an attorney, but I am also a believer and this ministry is for the glory of God and in biblical order through a local New Testament Church. I must make sure I am honoring God. I cannot just send out documents. These are not simple matters.
Are you a pastor? What church do you pastor? What is you testimony as to salvation and your walk with the Lord? Do you wish to organize a church according to New Testament principle? What is your theology as to church organization (I can only help those who agree with biblical teaching on the order, organization, etc. for the local church)? These are some of the questions that one must be prepared to answer should he wish the help of this ministry, but don’t answer these questions now. See below for your next step if you wish to proceed.
Just getting a document is not enough for one to set out to organize according to the guidelines in the NT. One must understand both legal and biblical principles and teachings. I would be doing a disservice to anyone to just send them a document. It is not wise to place a document into the hands of someone who might try to execute the document without wisdom and understanding. If you are a pastor who is following the Lord, you will understand what I am trying to get across to you.
If you wish to proceed, you must follow the order that the Lord has set out for this ministry. That means more than sending an e-mail just asking for a document. Let me know if you wish to know the order of proceeding as to these matters.
Our Lord was man and spoke like a man. So did the apostles. I am trying to follow his example in responding to you.
For His Glory,
I took the Liberty of removing your embedded videos from Utube and links to your website from my website and that of Biblical Law Center so that no one else that you don’t know will bother you either. Sorry for the inconvenience.
Dear Mr. ,
No inconvenience. The Lord is my helper and I will not fear what man does to me. By the way, if you are not saved, please read God’s Plan of Salvation.
If you are saved, please read After Salvation.
The Lord said to love my neighbor as myself. I love you, and hope that if you are lost, you will be saved; and if you are saved that you will grow in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
For His Glory,
V. Letter no. 4 received on Facebook on November 27, 2013 regarding church 501c3 status and other matters
I’ve wondered about 501 status for some time now, and have had serious concerns. I have just come across a video with you, Pastor Cooley, and Pastor Brandon and I just want to commend you for speaking out in truth. I’ve been studying some law lately, finding a lot of things that are not spoken about. I’m not sure how much experience you have with sovereignty, constitutional law, family law – but I’ve got an open family case that I could use some help with – I’m to the point where I’ve given it to God. The Judge is a fraud, won’t listen to or enforce the statutes, laws – I’ve brought up Supreme Court, case law – Of course, he has violated his oath. If you’ve got any experience, I’d love to have a conversation with you on this. If not, no harm no foul – I still want to commend you for your work exposing the 501c3 trap.
Thanks for your e-mail and encouragement. I know quite a bit about sovereignty and constitutional law. However, I now limit myself to church and state law (which has a lot to do with sovereignty and constitutional law as well as biblical law and principles) and a limited practice in order to pay my bills. I have never practiced “family” law, so I know little about it.
Thanks for your e-mail. May the Lord bless you as you seek justice in your family case, a very stressful matter for sure.
VI. Letter no. 5 received on September 23, 2013 from [man] commenting upon article American Abuse of Romans 13.1-2 and Related Verses
absolutely abused beyond belief! The 13 chapter of romans has almost become a” bible doctrine” of the modern day church at large,it is abused to put it mildly and just look at the people who preach such things!!! Plenty of money credit cards fancy houses, fancy cars clothes,ewelry etc etc, the things all of gods good people have,sic! Sorry bout the scarcasam but really most of these churches that preach this kind of message contain the upper crust of society,and there all held together by a lot of dough,no pun intended people like lawyers,doctors, law enforcement,and even sadly enough military none of these people seem to notice whats up with the truth just whatever is in fashion as far as current law goes…
VII. Letter no. 6 received on October 1, 2013 from [man] regarding “starting a church”
You don’t know me, but my name is  and I live in Arizona. I am planning on starting a church in Arizona. My pastor will be sending me out of our local church to start a new one in another part of the state. I meet all of the biblical qualifications found in 1 Timothy and elsewhere in the Bible for being a pastor. I have been reading quite a bit about churches incorporating and even becoming 501I3. I have read numerous arguments explaining why a church should not incorporate and become a creature of the state. However, I have not really been able to find any information on how to actually and practically manage the church’s finances from anyone that is against incorporating. If it does exist, it I either can’t find it or it is being sold and is not available for free. Unfortunately, I am very limited financially and cannot afford to start buying materials from people that may or may not answer the simple questions I have.
I believe that the pastor of the church is worthy of his hire and ought to be paid by the church for his duties. This brings about my first question. How do you handle any income the pastor has from the church, and do you recommend filing any type of paper work with the IRS or any government entity for that matter regarding the compensation received for being pastor?
As a church grows, it is natural that property will be attained that belongs to the church as a collective. Whether it be vehicles, buildings, tables, chairs, etc. Without incorporating, how do you establish property ownership, especially if someone were to bring you to court before the unbelievers? I mean from a legal standpoint, does anything even have to be done to designate that property belongs to an entity if the entity is not recognized by the state? Maybe I am not correct in my assumption with that last question. Is an unincorporated church recognized by the state as an entity or organization that can own property?
Finally, I have read conflicting reports on the ability to obtain a bank account for the church without having a tax ID. I know that money isn’t the focus of the ministry, but I do not see any problems with accepting a personal check as a tithe or offering. I don’t see how you can accept a check without a bank account. Do you have any suggestions on how to handle this? Is it really possible to obtain a bank account in the church’s name without a tax ID?
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I really did search your site and others for these answers but I could not find it. Your website has a lot of information so it is possible that I simply missed it. I did not follow every single link on your website although I tried to find the areas where I thought I might find the answers. I am just trying to figure out the exact process before I get started. Any information you can provide is appreciated.
Dear Bro. ,
A church can operate according to the principles of the New Testament in America without persecution. If it does so, it is a First Amendment church as well because the First Amendment is in line with biblical principles and guarantees separation of church and state for churches who do not become legal entities.
I know the above paragraph may not make sense to you, and understandably so. The paragraph is understood by me, my pastor, and most of the members of the church I belong to because we have studied both the Bible and law, something that most pastors and believers have never done. Instead, Bible Colleges and most pastors teach “Bible College” principles and not biblical principles.
I have answered your questions in my teachings which are all available free on my website. As of now, these teachings are the result of at least 11 or 12 years of intense study. You must begin to study these matters now if you want to please the Lord. If you trust me, you may call me (see jeraldfinney.wordpress.com for contact info.), and I will give you the answers to your questions without explaining them. In order to explain these matters fully to anyone, I would have to give a college or postgrad level course or courses.
One problem with many pastors and believers is that they do not take the time to study (not read lightly or once over) the deeper things of God. My pastor, Pastor Jason Cooley, has done the study needed to understand these issues, so I know it can be done. Please do not proceed until you have the correct answers to your questions. Whether you glorify God or not is in the balance.
For His Glory,
VIII. Letter no. 7 received from Joshua Joscelyn on Facebook on July 22, 2013 regarding a friend who believes in theocracy and marriage of church/state, that abuses of that doctrine doesn’t mean the doctrine is wrong and asking about “the best biblical base for liberty of conscience”
Hi Brother Finny,
Jason Cooley recommended I contact you about the issue of separation of church and state and liberty of conscience. I’ve read James Beller etc. and believe firmly in our Baptist distinctives. But a good friend of mine and fellow church member is now saying he believes in theocracy and a marriage of church/state – and that the abuses of this doctrine by others in the past don’t mean the doctrine itself is wrong (he is also familiar with Beller’s writings).
Without going to our Baptist history, what is the best biblical base for liberty of conscience? Can you recommend a few specific verses or a good resource that breaks the issue down strictly from scripture?
Thanks for your help!
Dear Bro. Joshua,
Thanks for your questions. Theocracy and union of church and state always have and always will result in corruption of individuals, families, churches and civil government. Total corruption is always the outcome of theocracy. This is because union of religion and state is contrary to biblical principles, except for the nation Israel. Israel was the only theocracy ever ordained by God, and even Israel became totally corrupted, first as a theocracy and then as a nation in rebellion against God who withdrew from the theocratic directives of God and demanded a King. While a theocracy, the nation had to turn to God when God judged them for their evil. Read the rest of the story in the Bible.
It’s interesting that your friend has the same attitude as did the Puritans. They felt that they would correctly implement the alledged Biblical doctrine of union of church and state, that they were the right people, at the right time, in the right place to show the world what would happen when theocracy was implemented without the abuses of the doctrine by others in the past. Their experiment was destined to failure and did fail in a very short period of time.
I cover all these matters in God Betrayed. The book is in both online and PDF form on the “Separation of Church and State” blog (jeraldfinney.wordpress.com). You can go to the “Course” page if you really want to study and master the concepts, which takes a lot of time and study. It will be much easier to do the course than to try to figure it all out on your own.
I cover the Biblical principles in the Part One (the first three sections) of God Betrayed – that is the Biblical doctrines of government, church, and separation of church and state. Part 2 (the last three sections) then build upon that base. Right now, the “Course” page is almost finished with Section I).
Your friend is dead wrong. He has been misled by adherents to a false theology. That is what happens when God’s people do not “Study to show themselves approved of God, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
May the Lord continue to richly bless you as you continue to grow in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.
For His Glory,
His reply to my reply
Wow, that is quite the exhaustive course – thanks for the help, Brother. The surprising thing about all this is that this friend has been an avid student of Baptist history and a zealous defender of the Baptist distinctives – I fear he has simply been led astray by the likes of David Barton et. Al.
David Barton has done tremendous damage to the cause of Christ. I was misled by him for many years after being saved in 1982. Only after seeing the utter failure of the labors of millions of “Christians,” and only after the Lord directed me into the church and state law ministry, and only after I had to do a tremendous amount of self-study of the Bible, history, and law in order to be qualified to serve the Lord in the ministry did I discover the truth about Barton, Rushdooney, Gary North, Gary Demar, Hank Handgraph, R.C. Sproul, D. James Kennedy, etc.
IX. Letter no. 8 received on July 3, 2013 from Rev. Paul Wayne Flotz on “trouble in the assemblies”
Denying Sola Scriptura, Adopting Arminianism Regarding Salvation and Worship (Adding Unbiblical Innovations To Public Worship According to Man’s Will Instead Of God’s Will), Massive Infiltration of Humanist Psychology & Psychiatry Into the Church, Syncretism In Doctrine and Practice, A Lack of Explicit Biblical Terms of Communion, Adding Unauthorized Holy Days Not Found In The Bible and Even Adopting Antichrist’s (Papal) Holy Days, Little or No Godly Discipline and Little or No Church Government According To the Scriptural Pattern, Tolerating and Even Promoting the Federal Vision Heresy, Attacks On Justification By Faith Alone, contemporary Christian music, using Bible perversions, and Much More Has led to problems in today’s local assemblies.
X. Letter no. 9 received on June 13, 2013 from [woman] on “as pastors view 501c3″
Is this true??
Every church is viewed as a 501c3 automatically. They don’t have to apply or get a letter to be seen that way. It is the law. I have never applied for 501c3 exemption, but every church I have pastored for 20 years has been viewed that way. It is a fact lol
It is absolutely untrue. It is not the law. Who “viewed” the churches as 501c3? In fact, the statements are nonsense.
These pastors should quit spreading falsehood and get an education on these matters. A good place to begin is at “Separation of church and state law” blog (jeraldfinney.wordpress.com). But to understand it, expect to spend a lot of time in study (of the Bible, law, and history).
Brother Jerald Finney
XI. Letter no. 10 from Brother Stanley Rogers on Facebook regarding church Bible studies on Romans 13
Tonight at Woodbridge Baptist we are continuing our study through the book of Romans. We will begin Chapter 13. This has been an exciting and encouraging study for me. I want to thank Brother Jason Cooley and Brother Jerald Finney for their tireless efforts of teaching the proper rolls of Church and State. Their messages on this subject have been an encouragement to me. Come on and join us in this study. You just might get your heart stirred to proclaim and stand for your Heavenly Citizenship!
XII. Letter No. 11 received on April 11, 2012 from Elwood Hays, an old and dear friend concerning this “Separation of Church and State Law Ministry”
May God continue to bless you in your ministry and may many have their eyes open as a result of your teaching. The oppression of our own government towards Christians and the Church seems to be getting stronger all the time. I pray that as a nation, a mighty remnant will rise up that worships God as God directs and not as our nation would seek to dilute the Church.
Thanks, Elwood. Your letter is a great encouragement to me. As I have said many times, you have always been a light on a hill to me. May the Lord continue to richly bless you and your family.
XIII. Letter no. 12 received on July 28, 2011 from [Steve, a church member of a church in Ohio] concerning liability of church members of an unincorporated church
I am very involved in my church in Ohio as a member. Recently a member of our church stated that if our church was not incorporated, each member is open up for law suits since the church cannot be sued itself.
Is this true?? After googling this subject, I came across your name.
Thanks for your e-mail and concern.
Your friend was misinformed and passing on misinformation. Even some unscrupulous Christian lawyers are using scare tactics to influence churches to incorporate and get 501I(3) tax exemption; their motive? – you probably know the answer. Undereducated worldly pastors are passing on the information. Sadly, most Bible colleges and seminaries are also wrongly training their students about these matters.
I do not have time to go into all matters concerning this issue in writing in this e-mail. However, I have addressed this question in articles and audio teachings on “Separation of Church and State” law blog (jeraldfinney.wordpress.com) and in the books the Lord has led me to write. Some of the chapters in Section VI of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application specifically examine the various spurious rationale given for church incorporation and 501I(3).
Let me say that non-incorporated, non-501(c)(3) churches which are properly organized have more protection than state churches (incorporated 501(c)(3) churches). New Testament churches are not legal entities such as incorporations, unincorporated associations, individuals, etc as are state churches. State churches willingly and eagerly (due to ignorance and lack of love for our Lord) give up their First Amendment protections as well as, to one degree or another, the protections afforded by God. State churches place themselves under the Fourteenth Amendment by becoming legal entities. New Testament churches retain their First Amendment protections and are not legal entities. Only legal entities can act legally, sue, or be sued.
Individual members in either of New Testament churches or state churches are legal entities and can sue or be sued or charged with crime for their individual torts or crimes in which they participate. However, members of New Testament churches cannot be sued, as a church, because a New Testament church is not a legal entity.
Of course, the day may soon come when America treats Christians and churches as does North Korea, China, Afganistan, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, most Moslem nations, etc. Even then, a true believer and church is instructed by God’s Word to “obey God rather than man” as to those matters over which He has given civil government no jurisdiction. I look at this issue in depth in Render unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses. That teaching is also on the “Separation of Church and State Law” blog in both audio and written form.
Should anyone take issue with what I say above, I fully explain these matters in the resources mentioned above. If they wish to examine those resources and discuss them with me, I am always available, at no charge since this is a God-called ministry. Feel free to contact me at any time by phone or e-mail. My cell no. is 512-785-8445. My home phone no. is 512-385-0761. I am very busy so you cannot always expect an immediate response. To know the truth, one must hear all sides of an issue. This requires serious study and an open mind. May the Lord guide you in your search for His truth.
For His Glory,
[Steve’s] reply to my reply
Thank you for responding so quickly.
I will be looking for your books you mentioned. Do I purchase the books directly through you?
You can get them (2 printed and 2 on Kindle) on amazon.com. You can order them from Kerygma Publishing by going to the books page of churchandstatelaw.com or by going to the following page on this website: “Order information for books by Jerald Finney.” All the books are free in both online and PDF form on this website.
XIV. Letter no. 13 received on June 4, 2011 from Pastor Brandon Teague regarding Pastor Jason Cooley’s sermon “Whose House Is It Anyway”
I just finished listening to “Who’s House Is It Anyway” by Pastor Jason Cooley. That was a true blessing to me. It is refreshing to know that there are men of sound heart and mind that are waking up to the reality of the government takeover of Christianity. I have never regretted for one moment that we organized under the Declaration of Trust and I am thankful that you, Dr. Dixon and Sister Barbara are faithful in the fight. God bless you.
Thanks, Pastor Teague for your letter. And thank you for your stand for the whole counsel of God, including the very important doctrines of church, state, and separation of church and state.
[One may go to the sermon by clicking the following link and scrolling down to “3. Sermons on the Doctrine of the Church”: “Sermons by Pastor Jason Cooley”.]
XV. Letter no. 14 received on May 3, 2011 from Brandon, expressing concerns because of inconsistency of his pastor’s preaching concerning headship of Christ over His church yet the church is incorporated
Dear Mr. Finney,
I just came across your web page not long ago and I am very much interested to continue to listen and read your information regarding the 501c3 tax exempt status. Long story short i have been very trouble since coming to learn about it. I believe that being incorporated hinders the church from speaking out against the moral issues of the day.The church espouses to give all glory to God in everything that they do. The pastor gave a sermon on the importance of the headship of Christ over the church. It was stated in the sermon quote, ” to deny Him His place as king in His church is to imperil one personal relationship to Him almost as much as if to deny His attonement. You cannot deny His headship in His church without significant result and they being all negative.’
It was also stated quote, ” for the believer to join with those who gave over His authority as king to any earthly sovereign was about as wicked as to join with those who set aside His personal authority, that they might serve the devil and the world and the flesh.” end quote. How can a pastor preach on the importance of this subject, the headship and knowing very well that his church is incorporated? I did approach the pastor and spoke briefly concerning the status only to recieve an answer that the church is not restricted in anyway. So with all that i have shared with you I would greatly appreciate your feed back. And one other question if i may, how does one go to church when all the churches are incorporated?
God Bless you,
For His Name Sake,
Dear Brother Brandon
Thanks for your inquiry. I offer some brief comments in love. I mean to attack no one, but I offer the truth in love. Needless to say, I am not God. I judge no one. Everyone ultimately answers to God. This is especially true of pastors. Judgment will be on the basis of truth. I invite anyone show me where I am wrong biblically, historically, or legally. No one has been able to do so after six years in this ministry. No one has even offered a logical and considered effort to do so. I believe that this is because they cannot. The truth is hard to defeat. Should anyone be able to prove that I am wrong as to any matter, I will repent and modify by words and deeds accordingly.
Any believer who has not yet been blinded by the principles of the God of this world and who studies church corporate 501(c)(3) status understands that the use of such devices by a church violates the very principles you referenced as preached by your pastor. I have gone into these matters in some detail in my articles, books, and audio teachings.
I know pastors who, upon beginning the process of seeking church incorporation and 501c3 status, immediately saw the violation of biblical principles by such devices, taught the members the principles and the application of those principles, and organized their churches in a manner which pleases God. Those pastors were grounded in the principles of God, not the principles of the god of this world. I know other pastors who discovered the truth about these matters after the churches they pastored had already obtained corporate 501c3 status and who subsequently repented and, with the members’ support, reorganized according to principles in the Word of God.
By the way, a church in America can operate both in compliance with both biblical principle and American law. In many nations, churches who wish to please our Lord have to operate underground.
Again, in my books, articles, and audio teachings, I explain church incorporation and 501c3 and how such legal tools definitely grieve our Lord since they place churches which utilize them at least partially under a head other than the Lord Jesus Christ and entangle them in Satanic activities which interfere with and damage the God-called purposes of churches and church members.
I am reminded of the following verses:
Ezekiel 33:31 “And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.”
Amos 4:4-5: “Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years: And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.”
Isaiah 29:13: “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men….”
Mark 7:6-13: “He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me….”
I hope this has been of help, dear brother. Please do not hesitate to contact me for any reason. My phone numbers are: (H) 512-385-0761; (C) 512-785-8445.
For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney
XVI. Letter no. 15 received on March 13, 2011 from  on “how can a church be set up and own property?”
very interesting articles. so how should a church be properly set up and own a property? Reading your articles i see a clear discouragement from accepting government so called tax exemption, grants and corporations money due to 501c3 requirement. to do good the church will have to rely on its members or those who will give without the 501c3 requirement.
If you are a pastor of a church who desires to organize according to the principles of the New Testament, please contact me at (H) 512-385-0761 or (C) 512-785-8445. I would be glad to discuss your situation and help you in your efforts. If you are ready to act, you will need more specific direction for your particular situation. If you are not a pastor, I address your concerns in my articles, books, and audio teachings. To fully understand these matters takes a lot of time and study.
For His Glory,
Jerald Finney © March 23, 2014
This brief article will look at the human trait of “confirmation bias,” the main cause for the evil in America and in the churches in America. First, the article explains the term; then it touches on its significance in the courtroom, in the news media, and finally in churches. Finally, the article speaks of those believers who overcome their “confirmation bias” tendencies to one degree or another.
Anyone who is politically, economically, socially, and/or spiritually active and alert in American society will learn that many interpret all facts to confirm to what they already believe. I began to learn about this tendency in high school when I saw the mainstream media selectively quoting Republican candidate Barry Goldwater in their attempt to assure his defeat. My education on this matter continued, and by the time I entered law school in 1990, I understood the bias and employed that knowledge in jury trials, including my first jury trial. Psychologists call this prejudice “confirmation bias,” a term to which I was recently introduced at a Robert R. Swafford seminar. Mr. Swafford, an attorney and jury selection expert, founded “Strike for Cause Jury Consultants,” and he teaches other lawyers how to get rid of those on the jury panel in a given case who will see only the punches made by the opposing side which support the juror’s preconceived prejudices. A trial lawyer wants jurors who will only see his punches. Any truly good lawyer knows that he does not want a “fair and impartial jury;” indeed, a fair and impartial jury is something which is unattainable because of, among other things, confirmation bias.
When a juror has a confirmation bias contrary to that which a lawyer desires, the lawyer must realize that he is not going to change that bias by education or persuasion, especially in the short amount of time he has to deal with a panel of many potential jurors. He must be able to spot undesirable jurors and eliminate them for cause in a very short frame. Why? Because giving such persons more facts does no good. Giving them more facts does not change their mind, but gets them more entrenched since it challenges their world view. So trying to disrupt someone’s world view is not going to help. What one believes to be “truth” is one’s reality, so one acts exactly as he thinks the world is.
So how does the lawyer get rid of undesirable jurors? First, he must identify the hot-button issues (issues that create an emotional response). Jurors do not make up their mind rationally. They make up their mind based upon emotion, then go back and nonsensically justify their verdict. Second, ask questions which elicit biased responses into the record so that a challenge for cause (a challenge presented to the judge which unquestionably shows a bias of a juror which will cause the juror to decide the case on something other than the facts as applied to the law). That way, in case of a negative verdict, if other procedural requirements are met which support a challenge for cause, a judge’s error in admitting the unqualified juror can be presented on appeal as a basis for a new trial.
Confirmation bias occurs not only in the courtroom. Every news reporter has confirmation bias to one degree or another. The bias of liberal media is so obvious to this writer that he simply has not consumed news from some sources for many years; for example, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, The Austin American Statesman and most other newspapers, Time Magazine, Newsweek Magazine, etc. He no longer wastes his time listening to sources which he once listened to often: Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and others. He had enough information to know not to listen to Glen Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Howard Stern (of course!), and others, and he has never listened to them. Certainly, one can get some facts (along with a lot of inaccuracies) from those sources, but the facts are selected, slanted, denied, and lied about, all with the goal of supporting the bias of the source.
Sadly, the author has discovered that confirmation bias is also rampant among most pastors and other members of churches with whom he has dealt. Usually, the pastor transfers his bias to the church members through his preaching and because of his position; but influential church members (most significantly those with money) sometimes coerce the pastor to accept their bias. That this occurs in churches is tragic because, of all places in the world, the head of the church, Jesus Christ, makes clear in His word that truth is of utmost importance for believers. Only the knowledge of the truth will make us free (John 8.32; all Bible verses referred to are from the King James Bible). God’s word is truth (John 17.17, Colossians 1.5, 1 Thessalonians 2.13). God desires that the believer be guided by the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom gained from the truths found in his Word (2 Peter 1.1-14; Hosea 4; for more on this go to the following link: After Salvation Page of “Separation of Church and State Law” blog).
One area of church matters which almost all “fundamental Baptist pastors” have a severe confirmation bias is in the area of church organization. Their religion has trained them to simply accept the tradition of their church affiliation that local churches should become a legal entity such as an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization. The false reasons given for church incorporation are thoroughly analyzed in the Separation of Church and State/ God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Click here to go to the PDF of the book) and in Section VI of the book God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application which are available free in PDF and in online form (Click here to go to the PDF of the book. Click here to go to the online version of both books. Click here to go to ordering information for the books.).
Truth teaches that a church grieves the Lord when they become any type of legal entity and when they get the Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) status. The writings of this author prove that a principle in the Bible is separation of church and state and that church legal entity status (incorporation, unincorporated association status, charitable trust status, Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) status, etc.) violate that principle and grieve the Lord. However, many born again pastors, lawyers, and other believers are guided by another “truth,” a truth advanced by their adversary, which is kinder (they believe) to their earthly security and well-being. As a result, even when such a church member will address the issue of incorporation and 501(c)(3) status for a church, he employs all the anti-biblical, anti-truthful, and anti-factual techniques and arguments he can muster up in order to justify his preconceived position.
A good example of confirmation bias by a Baptist education leader, the Executive Vice-President of Landmark Baptist College, is given in the article “Spurious rationale for church corporate-501c3 status: One’s convictions.” That article analyzes the simplistic and totally false reasoning of Dr. Charles Brown, the president of a Baptist College, someone from whom one would expect at least a semblance of scholarship on the issue. The article is a great example of how far some Baptists will go in order to justify a tradition of their religion as they speak according to their confirmation bias.
But thankfully, there is always a remnant. Elijah learned this. Elijah complained, “I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:10). God replied, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18; for more on the remnant go to “Topical Index” and scroll down to “Remnant.”).
During the captivities of Israel, the remnant appears in Jews like Ezekiel, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Esther, and Mordecai. At the end of the 70 years of Babylonian captivity it was the remnant which returned under Ezra and Nehemiah. At the first advent of our Lord, John the Baptist, Simeon, and Anna who “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2.38) were among the remnant. During the church-age the remnant is composed of believing Jews and Gentiles. Many of these have, do, and will undergo martyrdom. Many of the Psalms express, prophetically, the joys and sorrows of the tribulation remnant.
God always calls men who will be true to him and who will preach the truth. Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi were prophets to the restored remnant in Israel after the exile. Likewise, many men of God have taken up the cause of preaching the truth in the church age; those include the apostles, many of the early church members and preachers, and martyrs and true believers since the beginning of the New Testament churches.
The remnant will stand for and suffer for truth. “And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God” (Zechariah 12.8-9). The Lord of the remnant is God, not the state, not the federal government, not their wallets or bank accounts, not their businesses, not any other person or thing.
You see, the remnant has no confirmation bias. The remnant responds to and acts on truth. When a true believer becomes discouraged when scorned and even persecuted by the religious crowd, he has the promises of God to comfort and console him. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9. 1 Thessalonians 2.13 and the whole of 1 Corinthians 2 is included in Endnote below.)
Thessalonians 2:13: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe”.
1 Corinthians 2: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”
Jerald C. Finney © February, 2014
The notes in the C.I. Scofield Study Bible comment on a multitude of matters. Some churches use the Scofield Bible exclusively to the extent that the pastor, when preaching, will reference the page numbers he wishes the other church members to turn to. Scofield’s notes are not inspired by God. His commentaries are not the word of God. The word of God itself is totally true; and one must be careful to compare everything a Bible teacher says to the word of God. Some of Scofield’s teachings are true; some are false. He gave a lot of good and accurate insights to the Bible. However, his study Bible is flawed; and many of his margin notes, headnotes, and footnotes are inaccurate. Some of the fallacies that he taught (along with other deceived “Bible believers”) have had serious negative effects in the spiritual warfare that the Bible tells the believer, as a soldier of the Lord, to fight.
This brief article will address one of the serious fallacies promoted by the Scofield Study Notes, give some examples of both his incorrect (Headnote to Ephesians) and correct (Headnote to Titus and Note 1 to Acts 15.13, page 1169) teachings, and conclude with his complete line of verses linked by his margin notes on what he calls the “true church.”
Scofield’s headnotes to each book of the Bible, footnotes, and margin notes reference many subjects. The margin notes are listed in alphabetical order in the middle of each two column page; and, according to Scofield, lead the reader from the first clear mention of a great truth to the last. The subject is the first word(s) in the margin note. Following that is the verse (or verses) where the subject is at that particular place. The next verse(s) is/are the next reference in the chain, and the references in parenthesis are the first and last.
The author, when beginning his studies of the biblical doctrine of the church, followed, among other things, Scofield’s footnotes and margin notes which dealt with the doctrine of the church to include his so-called “true church” doctrine. After years of intense Bible study, the author concluded that the “true church” or universal church doctrine is totally unsound, according to the word of God. It seems that some Bible students simply did not understand what God was saying when He referred to “the church” or “my church” in the His Word; so they invented a doctrine that makes absolutely no sense when considered in light of Bible teaching. Of course, when a religious organization such as the Catholic church decides that that institution is the authority, it can propose that it is the universal church. Other churches have also incorporated the idea of a true or universal church (visible or invisible) into their theology.
Many Bible believers even in so-called Bible believing churches in America teach a universal church doctrine even though they also correctly organize into local churches with no earthly authority over them (except the federal goverment if they choose to violate the Bible principle and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution by becoming a legal entity such as an incorporated and/or Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) religious organization). The spiritual implications are enormous. For example, in soul-winning, lost people are told, “We are not concerned about which church you attend. We just want to explain to you what the Bible teaches about how to be saved. We want you to know that you will go to heaven when you die.” They follow that with their sales pitch to try to lead the person to saying a prayer. In the author’s experience, almost all the people who say the prayer never show any change in lifestyle. If they go to a “church” such as the Roman Catholic religious organization or cult, they stay there. Whether or not they become a member of a church, many die and go to hell because their so-called “fire insurance” was worthless.
Click the following to access teaching of the correct doctrine of the church: “The Biblical Doctrine Of The Church.” One can also reference “Biblical principles concerning the institution of the church and local autonomous churches” (From Jerald Finney’s Bible Study Notes”) which have been organized and also revised by correcting Scofield’s errors in most of his notes on “true church” doctrine. Understanding the doctrine of the church is very important for a believer since “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” Ep. 5:25-27. The believer who does not correctly understand this doctrine cannot understand other important principles and doctrines in the Bible. Of course, the believer should examine, with the Bible as his standard, what anyone says, including what this author writes, concerning any biblical doctrine.
Scofield’s Headnote to Ephesians says in relevant part:
“DATE. … Ephesians is the most impersonal of Paul’s letters. Indeed the words, ‘to the Ephesians,’ are not in the best manuscripts. Col 4:16 mentions an epistle to the Laodiceans. It has been conjectured that the letter known to us as Ephesians is really the Laodicean letter. Probably it was sent to Ephesus and Laodicea without being addressed to any church. The letter would then be ‘to the saints and the faithful in Christ Jesus’ anywhere.
“THEME. The doctrine of the Epistle confirms this view. It contains the highest church truth, but has nothing about church order. The church here is the true church, ‘His body,’ not the local church, as in Philippians, Corinthians, etc. Essentially, three lines of truth make up this Epistle: the believer’s exalted position through grace; the truth concerning the body of Christ; and a walk in accordance with that position.”
This short article cannot explain the error in the false conclusions he makes concerning the “true church, ‘His body’.” The teachings linked to above will explain what the Bible really teaches on the subject. Scofield’s conclusions on the “true church” do not withstand biblical scrutiny. Of course, any book of the Bible is written to “to the saints and the faithful in Christ Jesus” anywhere. However, when taken in the immediate and overall context, Ephesians certainly does not teach a “true church” as conceived by Scofield.
Notice that Scofield not only makes a false statement concerning the “true church,” but also discredits the King James Bible in a few of his notes. Sadly, many Christians have blindly followed Scofield or other teachers without checking out what they say against the authority – the word of God. I strongly disagree with Scofield’s assertion that the King James Bible was not based upon the best manuscripts. Although that is not the subject of this article, the subject is so important that it cannot go unmentioned.
When the Lord, in the Bible, speaks of “the church” or “my church” He is speaking of the institution of the church, not a “true church” or “universal church.” The only verse that can rationally refer to a “true or universal church” is the last in Scofield’s line of verses on the “true church,” Hebrews 12.23 (see below). Again, for a more thorough explanation of the doctrine of the church see “The Biblical Doctrine Of The Church” and “Biblical principles concerning the institution of the church and local autonomous churches” (From Jerald Finney’s Bible Study Notes”).
Scofield gets it right in some of his notes concerning some aspects of the doctrine of the church:
Headnote to Titus: “Titus has much in common with First Timothy. Both Epistles are concerned with the due order of the churches. The distinction is that in First Timothy sound doctrine is more prominent (1Tim. 1:3-10), in Titus the divine order for the local churches (Tit. 1:5). The permanent use of these Epistles lies in this twofold application, on the one hand to churches grown careless as to the truth of God, on the other, to churches careless as to the order of God’s house. The importance of this order is made solemnly emphatic in that the tests by which true elders and deacons may be known are repeated (1Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:6-9). There are two divisions: I. The qualifications and functions of elders, 1.1-16. II. The pastoral work of the true elder, 2.1-3, 15.”
Note 1 to Acts 15.13, page 1169: “Dispensationally, [Acts 15.13 et. seq.] is the most important passage in the NT. It gives the divine purpose for this age, and for the beginning of the next. (1) The taking out from among the Gentiles of a people for His name, the distinctive work of the present, or church-age. The church is the ecclesia—the “called-out assembly.” [Here correctly explained what the church is for this age - a called out assembly. Such a thing cannot be universal, but must be local. As explained in Hebrews 12.22-24 (see below)]
Onc can study theses matters further by analyzing “Biblical principles concerning the institution of the church and local autonomous churches” (From Jerald Finney’s Bible Study Notes”).
Below are Scofield’s complete line of verses linked by his margin notes on what he calls the “true church.”
To put these in context with other Bible verses dealing with the doctrine of the church, click the following link:
“Biblical principles concerning the institution of the church and local autonomous churches” (From Jerald Finney’s Bible Study Notes”)
Mt. 16.18: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
Acts 2:47: “Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
1. Co. 12:12-28 “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”
2 Co. 11:2-3: “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
Ep. 1.22-23: “22 And hat put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.”
Ep. 2.:19-22: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
Ep. 3.1-10: “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,”
Ep. 5:23, 25-27, 29-32: “(23) For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. (24) Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (25) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word. (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (29) For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: (30) For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (31) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. (32) This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
Col. 1:18, 24: “(18) And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence…. (24) Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church.”
He. 2:12: “Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.”
1 Thes. 4.16-17: 1 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
He. 12:23 which is the end of the line for Scofield’s sloppy “true church” doctrine: “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,” [He. 12:22-24 says: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” Conclusion: The universal visible church spoken of here will come into existence in the heavenly Jerusalem.]
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 16,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Jerald Finney © February 2014
Where do the judicial system and its lawyers and judges go to seek wisdom? To the Bible or to the movies? “Judges, of course, strive to be perceived as wise, so what better way to add a little Jedi wisdom to an opinion than by invoking Yoda, the Jedi Master himself?” (“A Long Time Ago, in a Courtroom Far, Far Away: There’s no denying that the Force is all around us,” 77 Texas Bar Journal, February, 2014). Do not mention the Lord Jesus Christ or his book as authority in litigation because to do so will violate the satanic version of “separation of church and state,” but it is very appropriate to “look at how George Lucas’s ‘galaxy far, far away’ openly provides insights for judges and lawyers in the resolution of cases.” In myriad ways “pop culture, in the form of Star Wars, has seeped into our legal culture. Do a quick Westlaw search for ‘Star Wars’ and you’ll find everthing from references to strategies that the ill-fated energy giant Enron code-named as ‘JEDI’ AND ‘Death Star’ to a county prosecutor in Michigan named Luke Skywalker.” (Id.). Click the following links to go to relevant articles from the Texas Bar Journal:
“A Long Time Ago, in a Courtroom Far, Far Away,” by John G. Browning (77 Texas Bar Journal, February 2014, 158-161).
“To Boldly Go Where Few Judges Have Gone before: How the Bench Is Using a Pop-Culture Sci-Fi Classic to Explain Its Decisions,” by John G. Browning (76 Texas Bar Journal, September 2013, 765-767).
Most of the lawyers, judges, and other personnel within the system are nice, good, decent, hardworking people when viewed from a secular perspective. However, the system is now, like the rest of society, proceeding according to the principles of the god of this world. The above two law review articles make clear that this is true, and the state of the legal system corresponds to condition of individuals, families, churches, civil governments including the state and federal governments of the United States, and the world. The Bible tells us what has happened, is happening, and will happen.
Of course one expects the world to go the way of the devil; but tragically, very few members of fundamental Baptist churches (including pastors), much less members of other so-called “churches,” are equipped for the spiritual warfare God has called believers to fight. Few can explain biblical teaching concerning the God-given motivation and goal of a believer; the doctrines, practices, and order of a New Testament church; the doctrine of government; the doctrine of separation of church and state; what the Bible teaches about repentance and salvation (not what they learned from a workbook on “soul-winning”); spiritual warfare; history; the relationship between church and state; the distinctions between God’s dealings with Israel and God’s dealings with Gentile nations, etc. Few have as much as a rudimentary understanding of the origin, goals, and dangers of Hollywood, movies, Disney, country music, rock and roll music, contemporary “Christian” music, the sports industry, etc. As a result, most churches and church members have succumbed to the doctrines and practices of the world.
The desertion from church by young people after they become so-called adults is a prime example of the results of this unlearned, unwise church membership. As children, parents never understood biblical doctrines (never knew that biblical doctrines even existed). Thus, they never understood the evils of, for example, rock and roll music; country music; contemporary “Christian” music;” drinking; watching movies; television; getting caught up in following sports; making heroes of sports stars; dancing, and much more. They were never taught by their parents, the ones to whom God gave the responsibility. “Christian” parents, being spiritually ignorant and maybe even lost, depend upon unbiblical “youth programs,” “Christian” schools, and Sunday schools to ground their children in the faith. And of course church youth programs and Sunday schools do not do that delegated job. Instead, these church “ministries” have done much more harm than good, especially when viewed in light of the metamorphosis of those programs to their present condition and effect.
The great majority of youth who are brought up in “church” leave the church for the world when they grow up. They become doctors, lawyers, janitors, plumbers, carpenters, authors, etc. who believe and practice the principles of the god of this world. They are marching in step with unlearned, unwise members of the “churches” that remain to implement Satan’s agenda which includes a one world government working with a one world church, a new world order.
The solution available for any person is (1) repent and trust Christ for eternal salvation; (2) get into a biblically ordered church where the pastor and members believe and preach the whole word of God; (3) remain faithful to that church in fellowship and attendance; (3) begin an intense study of the Bible; (4) follow God as he leads; (5) remember:
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah. There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early. The heathen raged, the kingdoms were moved: he uttered his voice, the earth melted. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the LORD, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah.” (Psalms 46:1-11).
Relevant Facts And Relevant Laws, From Highest To Lowest,
concerning Northfield, Minnesota cop’s attack on Street Preachers who were acting in conformity with (1) God’s instructions while behaving according to the grace of God (thereby doing good to and benefitting their neighbors) and (2) the law of man.
Note. This article will be supplemented if and as the attack continues
Left click here to go to OPBC Street Preaching Page
- I. Relevant Facts (including link to audio of actual events)
II. Highest Law (God’s Law)
III. United States Constitution and relevant cases
IV. Constitution of the State of Minnesota
V. Northfield, Minnesota Code of Ordinances and Charter
Click here to see the briefs, final decision, etc. of a case handled by Attorney Jerald Finney which involved the issue of free speech in a public forum.
I. Relevant Facts
Pastor Jason Cooley and some other men were street-preaching in Bridge Square Park in Northfield, Minnesota on December 22, 2013.
Bridge Square Park is a city park in Northfield and is therefore, for speech purposes, a free speech area according to the Highest Law as well as the United States Constitution. (To verify this, see http://www.ci.northfield.mn.us/Index.aspx?NID=284; see also, Northfield, Minnesota, Code of Ordinances >> PART II – NORTHFIELD CODE >> Chapter 50 – OFFENSES AND MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS >> ARTICLE V. OFFENSES INVOLVING PUBLIC MORALS >> Sec. 50-116. Curfew for minors…. Public parks and walkways includes Sechler Park; Odd Fellows Park; Central Park; Babcock Park; Way Park; Riverside Park; Cherry Park; Sibley Marsh; Sibley Swale; Bridge Square; Riverwalkway from Second Street to Fifth Street; River Pedestrian Bridge; and any park, playground or walkway maintained by the city [Emphasis mine]. (Relevant Northfield ordinances, including this one, are reproduced below. See also, the case excerpts below which interpret the First Amendment to the United States Constitution as to speech in a public forum.))
Hear the unconstitutional actions following the above mentioned street preaching of a police officer in Northfield, Minnesota on December 22, 2013: https://www.facebook.com/pastor.cooley/posts/698685866832971?comment_id=109052570&offset=0&total_comments=9.
Links to other relevant sermons preached by Pastor Jason Cooley follow:
Submission To God In Trials (122913)-(Click here to listen to Youtube version)
Reasons For Submission To God In Trials (122913)-(Click here to listen to longer Youtube version which includes other matters)
Readings From The Lives Of Virginia Baptist Ministers (122913)(Regarding persecuted ministers in the colony of Virginia prior to the adoption of the United States Constitution)
“We ought to obey God rather than men.”
For more detailed information on this see the “Separation of Church and State Law” (jeraldfinney.wordpress.com). Particularly important entries on that website include”:
1. Laws Protecting New Testament Churches in the United States: Read Them for Yourself (http://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/2010/02/26/laws-protecting-new-testament-churches-in-the-united-states-read-them-for-yourself/) (Article).
2. The book, God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Covers the biblical doctrines of church, state, and separation of church and state, the history of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court Religion Clause Jurisprudence, and Union of Church and State in America which betrays God.)
a. Online version at: http://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/contents/online-version-of-the-book-god-betrayed/
b. PDF at: http://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/contents/books/god-betrayedseparation-of-church-and-state-the-biblical-principles-and-the-american-application/3812-2/
3. Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses:
a. Available in online form at http://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/contents/books/render-unto-god-the-things-that-are-his-a-systematic-study-of-romans-13-and-related-verses/
b. and PDF form at http://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/contents/books/render-unto-god-the-things-that-are-his-a-systematic-study-of-romans-13-and-related-verses/render-unto-god-the-things-that-are-his-a-systematic-study-of-romans-13-and-related-verses/)(Covers Romans 13, 1 Peter 2.13, and other verses often cited out of context by both religious and secular heretics and apostates in order to justify giving unto Caesar the things that are God’s.).
III. United States Constitution
Fortunately, the highest law of the land is a statement of God’s law concerning freedom of religion (or soul liberty, or separation of church and state), freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. For a complete explanation of this matter, see the resources above. Two resources on the above mentioned website cover the history of the First Amendment:
1. An Abridged History of the First Amendment (http://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/2010/01/06/an-abridged-history-of-the-first-amendment/)
2. “History of Religious Freedom in America,” (http://jeraldfinney.wordpress.com/contents/online-version-of-the-book-god-betrayed/the-history-of-the-first-amendment/)
First Amendment to the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
“SECTION 1.All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
“SECTION 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.”
1. Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 67 S. Ct. 504, 91 L. Ed. 711, 1947 U.S. LEXIS 2959; 168 A.L.R. 1392 (1947). “In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between church and State.’ Reynolds v. United States, supra at 164…” (Ibid., pp. 15-16). [Emphasis mine.]
Everson stated the original purpose of the religion clause—separation of church and state (not separation of God and state)—but added a twist that has been used to do something the First Amendment never intended and that is to remove God from all civil government matters (separating God and state), thereby creating a pluralistic state that is run to a great degree by the principles of the god of this world. However, the First Amendment and those believers in Christ who wish to engage the public through speech by preaching the Gospel in the public square stand in the way of total dominance by the forces of evil.
2. … The freedom of speech and press are among the fundamental personal rights and liberties which are secured to all persons by the Fourteenth Amendment against abridgment by the state. Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88, 95, 60 S.Ct. 736, 740, 84 L.ED. 1093 (1940).
3. Freedom of speech includes not only the spoken word, but also speech-related conduct, such as picketing, the wearing of arm bands and, in some recent highly publicized cases, flag burning as a type of political protest. Virginia State Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council, Inc., 425 U.S. 748, 756.
4. “Whenever the title of streets and parks may rest, they have immemorially been held in trust for the use of the public and, time out of mind, have been used for purposes of assembly, communicating thoughts between citizens, and discussing public questions. Such use of the streets and public places has, from ancient times, been a part of the privileges, immunities, rights, and liberties of citizens. The privilege of a citizen of the United States to use the streets and parks for communication of views on national questions may be regulated in the interest of all; it is not absolute, but relative, and must be exercised in subordination to the general comfort and convenience, and in consonance with peace and good order; but it must not, in the guise of regulation, be abridged or denied.’ Hague v. C.I.O., 307 U.S. 496, 515-516, 59 S.Ct. 954, 964, 83 L.Ed. 1423 (opinion of Mr. Justice Roberts, joined by Mr. Justice Black). Shuttlesworth v. City of Birmingham, Ala., 394 U.S. 147, 152, 89 S.Ct. 935, 22 L.Ed.2d 162 (1969).”
5. [Government control of access to its property, public forums, littering] The extent to which the government can control access to its property for expressive purposes depends on the nature of the forums. Reed v. State, 762 S.W.2d 640, 643 (Tex. App.—Texarkana 1988, pet. Ref’d) citing Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense & Education Fund, 473 U.S. 788, 105 S.Ct. 3489, 87 L.Ed. 567 (1985); Olvera v. State, 806 S.W.2d 546 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991). Public forums are those areas which traditionally have been devoted to assembly and public debate, such as public streets, sidewalks, and parks. Id. “[The] Streets are natural and proper places for the dissemination of information and opinion; and one is not to have the exercise of his liberty of expression in appropriate places abridged on the plea that it may be exercised in some other place.” Thornhill v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88, 97-98, 102, 105-106, 60 S.Ct. 736, 741-742, 744, 746, 84 L.Ed. 1093 (1940).
Although a municipality may enact regulations in the interest of the public safety, health, welfare, or convenience, these may not abridge the individual liberties secured by the constitution to those who wish to speak, write, print, or circulate information or opinion. Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 147, 60 S.Ct. 146, 84 L.Ed. 155 (1939). In Schneider, one appellant was charged with violating a law criminalizing the circulation and distribution of handbills designed, the city said, to prevent littering of the streets even though he did not litter himself—those to whom he handed the literature threw it down. The court said that the city could achieve the same thing without violating appellant’s freedom of speech by punishing those who threw the literature into the streets.
Thornton v. Alabama, 310 U.S. 88, 97-98, 102, 105-106, 60 S.Ct. 736, 741-742, 744, 746, 84 L.Ed. 1093 (1940):
“A threat … is inherent in a penal statute … which does not aim specifically at evils within the allowable area of State control but, on the contrary, sweeps within its ambit other activities that in ordinary circumstances constitute an exercise of freedom of speech or of the press. The existence of such a statute, which readily lends itself to harsh and discriminatory enforcement by local prosecuting officials, against particular groups deemed to merit their displeasure, results in a continuous and pervasive restraining on all freedom of discussion that might reasonably be regarded as within its purview….
“Freedom of discussion, if it would fulfill its historic function in this nation, must embrace all issues about which information is needed or appropriate to enable the members of society to cope with the exigencies of their period….
“[The] streets are natural and proper places for the dissemination of information and opinion; and one is not to have the exercise of his liberty of expression in appropriate places abridged on the plea that it may be exercised in some other place.”
6. [Evils within allowable are of state control]
Terminiello v. Chicago, 337 U.S. 1; 69 S. Ct. 894; 93 L. Ed. 1131; 1949 U.S. LEXIS 2400 (1949):
“Freedom of speech, though not absolute, is protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest.
“The vitality of civil and political institutions in our society depends on free discussion. As Chief Justice Hughes wrote in De Jonge v. Oregon, 299 U.S. 353, 365, it is only through free debate and free exchange of ideas that government remains responsive to the will of the people and peaceful change is effected. The right to speak freely and to promote diversity of ideas and programs is therefore one of the chief distinctions that sets us apart from totalitarian regimes.
“Accordingly a function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging. It may strike at prejudices and preconceptions and have profound unsettling effects as it presses for acceptance of an idea. That is why freedom of speech, though not absolute, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, supra, pp. 571-572, is nevertheless protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest. See Bridges v. California, 314 U.S. 252, 262; Craig v. Harney, 331 U.S. 367, 373. There is no room under our Constitution for a more restrictive view. For the alternative would lead to standardization of ideas either by legislatures, courts, or dominant political or community groups.
“The ordinance as construed by the trial court seriously invaded this province. It permitted conviction of petitioner if his speech stirred people to anger, invited public dispute, or brought about a condition of unrest. A conviction resting on any of those grounds may not stand.”
Substantive evils within the allowable are of state control are obstructing or unreasonable interfering with ingress to and egress for enumerated public places, blocking sidewalks, obstructing traffic, littering streets, committing assaults, and engaging in countless other forms of anti-social conduct. Olvera v. State, 806 S.W.2d 546, 548-549 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991) citing Coates v. Cincinnati, 402 U.S. 611, 91, S.Ct. 1686, 29 L.Ed.2d 214 (1971) and Cameron v. Johnson, 390 U.S. 611, 88 S.Ct. 1335, 20 L.Ed.2d 182 (1968). Evil within allowable areas of state control include molestation or interference with person and vehicles, obstruction of pedestrians and automobiles, threatening or intimidating or coercing anyone, making loud noises, unpeaceful and disorderly conduct, acts of violence, and breaches of the peace. See, e.g., Carlson v. California, 310 U.S. 106, 60 S.Ct. 746, 84 L.Ed. 1104 (1940), Thornhill v. State of Alabama, 310 U.S. 88, 60 S.Ct. 736 (1940), Olvera v. State, 806 S.W. 2d 546 (Tex. Crim. App. 1991). See p. 25 of brief.
Municipal legislation meant to keep community streets open and available for movement of people and property is constitutional so long as the legislation does not abridge constitutional liberty of one to impart information through speech and distribution of literature. Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 147, 160, 60 S.Ct. 146, 150, 84 L.Ed. 155 (1939). Crimes may be punished by law, but the freedom of speech and the press may not be abridged in the guise of regulations by the governing entity to prevent littering, fraud, or to promote the public health, welfare, or convenience. Id. While declaring laws unconstitutional which infringe upon first amendment rights, the Court has made clear what a city may do to punish evils within the allowable areas of state control: “[A] city is free to prevent people from blocking sidewalks, obstructing traffic, littering streets, committing assaults, or engaging in countless other forms of anti-social conduct. It can do so through the enactment and enforcement of ordinances directed with reasonable specificity toward the conduct to be prohibited.” Coates v. Cincinnati, 402 U.S. 611, 91, S.Ct. 1686, 29 L.Ed.2d 214 (1971).
7. [Disorderly conduct] In Gooding v. Wilson, 405 U.S. 518, 92 S. Ct. 1103, 31 L. Ed. 2d 408, a defendant was found guilty of using opprobrious words and abusive language in violation of a Georgia statute. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals declared the statute unconstitutionally vague and broad and set aside defendant’s conviction. “The constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech forbid the States to punish the use of words or [*522] language not within “narrowly limited classes of speech.” Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568, 571 (1942).Even as to such a class, however, because “the line between speech unconditionally guaranteed and speech which may legitimately be regulated, suppressed, or punished is finely drawn,” Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513, 525 (1958), “in every case the power to regulate must be so exercised as not, in attaining a permissible end, unduly to infringe the protected freedom,” Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 304 (1940).” Government may pass laws which punish “fighting words. In Chaplinsky, we sustained a conviction under Chapter 378, § 2, of the Public Laws of New Hampshire, which provided: “No person shall address any offensive, derisive or annoying word to any other person who is lawfully in any street or other public place, nor call him by any offensive or derisive name . . . . ‘Chaplinsky was convicted for addressing to another on a public sidewalk the words, ‘You are a _ _ _ damned racketeer,’ and ‘a damned Fascist and the whole government of Rochester are Fascists or agents of Fascists.’ Chaplinsky challenged the constitutionality of the statute as inhibiting freedom of expression because it was vague and indefinite. The Supreme Court of New Hampshire, however, ‘long before [*523] the words for which Chaplinsky was convicted,’ sharply limited the statutory language ‘offensive, derisive or annoying word’ to ‘fighting” words:
“No words were forbidden except such as have a direct tendency to cause acts of violence by the person to whom, individually, the remark is addressed. . . .
“The test is what men of common intelligence would understand would be words likely to cause an average addressee to fight. . . . Derisive and annoying words can be taken as coming within the purview of the statute . . . only when they have this characteristic of plainly tending to excite the addressee to a breach of the peace. . . .
“The dictionary definitions of ‘opprobrious’ and ‘abusive’ give them greater reach than “fighting” words. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary (1961) defined ‘opprobrious’ as ‘conveying or intended to convey disgrace,’ and ‘abusive’ as including ‘harsh insulting language.’ Georgia appellate decisions have construed § 26-6303 to apply to utterances that, although within these definitions, are not ‘fighting’ words as Chaplinsky defines them.”
8. The state of Louisiana both directly [see Cox v. State of Louisiana, 379 U.S. 559, 574, 85 S.Ct. 476, 486 (1965)] and indirectly [see Cox] attempted unsuccessfully to deny freedom of speech to picketers. The United States Supreme Court ruled against the state in both cases. Louisiana indirectly tried to abridge appellant’s freedom of speech and assembly by charging him with violation of “disturbing the peach” and “obstructing a public passage” penal statutes. 379 U.S. 536, 85 S.Ct. 453 (1965).
As to the “breach of the peace” charge, the Court stated that its independent examination of the record, which it is required to make, shows no conduct which the state had a right to prohibit as a breach of the peace. Id. At 545, 85 S.Ct. at 459. In addressing the “obstructing a public passage” conviction, the Court addressed the issue of the “right of a State or municipality to regulate the use of city streets and other facilities to assure the safety and convenience of the people in their use and concomitant right of the people of free speech and assembly.” Id. At 554, 85 S.Ct. at 464. There was no doubt that the sidewalk was obstructed by the picketers. Id. At 553, 85 S.Ct. at 464. The Court said that the statute, as applied, violated the appellant’s Constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and assembly. Id. At 558, 85 S.Ct. at 466.
8. [As to when a governmental entity seeks to take away one’s freedom to display signs and banners in conjunction with his protected speech.] A municipality in Carlson v. People of State of California, 310 U.S. 106, 60 S.Ct. 746, 84 L.Ed. 1104 (1940) sought to enforce an ordinance which directly infringed on appellant’s freedom of speech. Carlson declared unconstitutional a municipal ordinance which declared it unlawful for any person, in or upon any public street, highway, sidewalk, alley or other public place … to carry or display any sign or banner in the vicinity of any place of business for the purpose of inducing or attempting to induce an person to refrain from purchasing merchandise or performing services or labor. Id. (emphasis mine).
Spence v. Washington, 418 U.S. 405, 94 S.Ct. 2727, 41 L.Ed. 2d. 842 (1974).: Appellant had displayed an American flag upside down out of his apartment window with a peace symbol attached. at 405-406. The Court noted, and the state conceded, that appellant engaged in a form of communication. at 409, 94 S.Ct. at 2729-2730.
To apply an ordinance to prevent the display of banners or signs in conjunction with protected speech activity violates the speaker’s right to freedom of speech and the rights of the people to whom the speech was directed. (see p. 23-24 of brief).
“An assertion that ‘Jesus Saves,’ that ‘Abortion is Murder,’ that every woman has the ‘right to Choose,’ or that ‘Alcohol Kills,’ may have a claim to constitutional exemption from the ordinance [which prohibited certain political campaign signs] that is just as strong as ‘Roland Vincent—City Council.’ To create an exception for … political speech and not these other types of speech might create a risk of engaging in constitutionally forbidden content discrimination.” Members of City Council v. Taxpayers for Vincent, 466 U.S. 789, 104 S.Ct. 2118, 80 L.Ed. 772.
Under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, not to mention the First Amendment itself, government may not grant the use of a forum to people whose views it finds acceptable, but deny use to those wishing to express less favored or more controversial views. Police Department of City of Chicago v. Mosley, 408 U.S. 92, 96, 92 S.Ct. 2286, 2290, 33 L.Ed. 212 (1972)(Holding a Chicago ordinance unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in a case where the equal protection claim was closely intertwined with First Amendment interests)(p 27 of brief). Once a forum is opened up to assembly or speaking by some groups, government may not prohibit others from assembling or speaking on the basis of what they intend to say. Id. Selective exclusions from a public forum may not be based on content alone, and may not be justified by reference to content alone. Id. Mr. Justice Black called an attempt by a government to pick and choose among the views it is willing to have discussed in picketing activities “censorship in its most odious form, unconstitutional under both the First and Fourteenth Amendments.” Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536, 85 S. Ct. 453, 13 L.Ed. 2d 471 (1965) cited in 408 U.S. 92, 98-99, 92 S.Ct. 2291; Carey v. Brown, 477 U.S. 455, 100 S.Ct. 2286, 65 L.Ed. 263 (1980) reaffirmed Mosley.
Even if the purpose of an ordinance does not specifically aim at protected speech, it may indicectly attempt to deny freedom of speech. (see p. 34 of brief). Even if the purpose of [an ordinance such as a sign ordinance] is to keep community streets open and available for movement of people and property or to prevent littering, fraud, to promote the public health, welfare, or convenience, to prevent breaches of the peace or other crimes, it is constitutional only so long as it does not abridge constitutional liberty or one to impart information through speech and the distribution of literature. See Schneider v. State, 308 U.S. 147, 60 S.Ct. 146, 84 L.Ed. 155 (1939); Coates v. Cincinnati, 402 U.S. 611, 91 S.Ct. 1686, 29 L.Ed. 2d 214 (1971); Cox v. State of Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536, 85 S.Ct. 453 (1965).
Preamble: “We, the people of the state of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings and secure the same to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution.”
Article I. Bill of Rights:
Sec. 2. Rights and privileges.
No member of this state shall be disfranchised or deprived of any of the rights or privileges secured to any citizen thereof, unless by the law of the land or the judgment of his peers. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the state otherwise than as punishment for a crime of which the party has been convicted.
Sec. 3. Liberty of the press.
The liberty of the press shall forever remain inviolate, and all persons may freely speak, write and publish their sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of such right.
Sec. 4. Trial by jury.
The right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate, and shall extend to all cases at law without regard to the amount in controversy. A jury trial may be waived by the parties in all cases in the manner prescribed by law. The legislature may provide that the agreement of five-sixths of a jury in a civil action or proceeding, after not less than six hours’ deliberation, is a sufficient verdict. The legislature may provide for the number of jurors in a civil action or proceeding, provided that a jury have at least six members. [Amended, November 8, 1988]
Sec. 5. No excessive bail or unusual punishments. …
Sec. 6. Rights of accused in criminal prosecutions. …
Sec. 7. Due process; prosecutions; double jeopardy; self-incrimination; bail; habeas corpus. …
Sec. 8. Redress of injuries or wrongs.
Every person is entitled to a certain remedy in the laws for all injuries or wrongs which he may receive to his person, property or character, and to obtain justice freely and without purchase, completely and without denial, promptly and without delay, conformable to the laws.
Sec. 9. Treason defined. …
Sec. 10. Unreasonable searches and seizures prohibited. …
Sec. 11. Attainders, ex post facto laws and laws impairing contracts prohibited. …
Sec. 12. Imprisonment for debt; property exemption. …
Sec. 13. Private property for public use. …
Sec. 14. Military power subordinate. …
Sec. 15. Lands allodial; void agricultural leases. …
Sec. 16. Freedom of conscience; no preference to be given to any religious establishment or mode of worship. The enumeration of rights in this constitution shall not deny or impair others retained by and inherent in the people. The right of every man to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience shall never be infringed; nor shall any man be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any religious or ecclesiastical ministry, against his consent; nor shall any control of or interference with the rights of conscience be permitted, or any preference be given by law to any religious establishment or mode of worship; but the liberty of conscience hereby secured shall not be so construed as to excuse acts of licentiousness or justify practices inconsistent with the peace or safety of the state, nor shall any money be drawn from the treasury for the benefit of any religious societies or religious or theological seminaries.
Sec. 17. Religious tests and property qualifications prohibited. No religious test or amount of property shall be required as a qualification for any office of public trust in the state. No religious test or amount of property shall be required as a qualification of any voter at any election in this state; nor shall any person be rendered incompetent to give evidence in any court of law or equity in consequence of his opinion upon the subject of religion.
Cases: To be added.
V. Northfield, Minnesota Code of Ordinances and Charter
Section 1.1. Preamble.
One of our nation’s most cherished qualities is freedom. There can be no freedom, however, without responsibility and order. Written documents governing our nation and state governments clearly declare the right of all persons to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Accompanying statements spell out the responsibilities and order that make freedom possible. It is proper that cities also spell out the freedoms and responsibilities of their citizens that make for good order.
Be it hereby declared that no person in the City of Northfield shall, on the grounds of age, race, color, creed, sex, religion, national origin, marital status or status with regard to public assistance or disability be subjected to discrimination in any form. Human freedom and human rights are indivisible. If anyone is denied equality, no one is free. The following charter is a declaration of the public policy of the City of Northfield to fulfill its responsibility to treat all of its citizens equally and with good order.
Section 2.2. Powers of the City.
In order to promote and protect the health, safety, morals, comfort, convenience, and welfare of the inhabitants of the city, the city shall have all powers which may now or hereafter be possible for a municipal corporation in this state to exercise in harmony with the constitutions of this state and of the United States. It is the intention of this Charter to confer upon the city every power which it would have if it were specifically mentioned. Unless granted to some other officer or body, all powers are vested in the city council. [Emphasis mine. Note: The city would be subject to state and federal constitutions whether this were in the municipal code or not. This is because city law is subject to the higher laws.]
Section 3.7. Investigation of City Affairs.
The council or an officer or officers formally authorized by the council may make investigations into the city’s affairs. The council may provide for an examination or audit of the accounts of an officer or department of the city government. The council may conduct surveys or research studies of subjects of municipal concern.
Section 4.4. Hearing of the Public.
At each regular meeting of the council a time shall be set aside for the hearing of citizens.
Sec. 1-1. Designation and citation of Code.
- The ordinances embraced in this and the following chapters shall constitute and be
designated the “Northfield, Minnesota, City Code” and may be so cited. Such ordinances may also be cited as the “Northfield Code.”
Sec. 1-2. Definitions and rules of construction.
The following definitions and rules of construction shall apply to this Code and to all ordinances and resolutions unless the context requires otherwise:
City. The term “city” means the City of Northfield, Minnesota.
City council and council. The terms “city council” and “council” mean the council of the City of Northfield, Minnesota.
Code. The term “Code” means the Northfield, Minnesota, City Code, as designated in section 1-1.
Delegation of authority. A provision that authorizes or requires a city officer or city employee to perform an act or make a decision authorizes such officer or employee to act or make a decision through subordinates.
Minn. Stat. The abbreviation “Minn. Stat.” means the Minnesota Statutes, as amended.
Owner. The term “owner,” as applied to property, includes any part owner, joint owner, tenant in common, tenant in partnership, joint tenant or tenant by the entirety of the whole or part of such property.
Person. The term “person” means any human being; any governmental or political subdivision or public agency; any public or private corporation; any partnership; any firm, association or other organization; any receiver, trustee, assignee, agent, or other legal representative of any of the foregoing; or any other legal entity.
Personal property. The term “personal property” means any property other than real property.
Premises. The term “premises,” as applied to real property, includes land and structures.
Property. The term “property” includes real property, personal property and mixed property.
Real property, real estate and land. The terms “real property,” “real estate,” and “land” include lands, buildings, tenements and hereditaments and all rights and interests therein, except chattel interests.
Sidewalk. The term “sidewalk” means that portion of a street between the curbline, or the lateral lines of a roadway where there is no curb, and the adjacent property line, intended for the use of pedestrians. If there is no public area between the lateral lines of the roadway and the abutting property line, the area immediately abutting the street line shall be construed as the sidewalk.
State. The term “state” means the State of Minnesota.
Street. The term “street” means any alley, avenue, boulevard, highway, road, lane, viaduct, bridge and the approach thereto, and any other public thoroughfare in the city. The term “street” also means the entire width thereof between abutting property lines. The term “street” includes a sidewalk or footpath.
(c) Unless specified otherwise, all references to chapters or sections are to chapters or sections of this Code.
- Sec. 1-8. General penalty; continuing violations.
(a) In this section the phrase “violation of this Code” means any of the following:
(1) Doing an act that is prohibited or made or declared unlawful, an offense, a violation or a misdemeanor by ordinance or by rule or regulation authorized by ordinance.
(2) Failure to perform an act that is required to be performed by ordinance or by rule or regulation authorized by ordinance.
(3) Failure to perform an act if the failure is prohibited or is made or declared unlawful, an offense, a violation or a misdemeanor by ordinance or by rule or regulation authorized by ordinance.
(4) Counseling, aiding or abetting a violation of this Code as defined in this subsection.
(b) In this section the phrase “violation of this Code” does not include the failure of a city officer or city employee to perform an official duty unless it is specifically provided that the failure to perform the duty is to be punished as provided in this section.
(c) Except as otherwise provided by law or ordinance:
(1) A person convicted of a violation of this Code that is not a petty misdemeanor shall be punished by a fine of not more than $1,000.00, imprisonment for a term not exceeding 90 days, or any combination thereof.
(2) A person convicted of a violation of this Code that is a petty misdemeanor shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $300.00.
(d) In any case a person convicted of a violation of this Code shall pay the costs of prosecution. Except as otherwise provided by law or ordinance:
(1) With respect to violations of this Code that are continuous with respect to time, each day that the violation continues is a separate offense.
(2) With respect to other violations, each act constitutes a separate offense.
(e) The imposition of a penalty does not prevent suspension or revocation of a license, permit or franchise or other administrative sanctions.
(f) Violations of this Code that are continuous with respect to time are a public nuisance and may be abated by injunctive or other equitable relief. The
- imposition of a penalty does not prevent injunctive relief.
(Code 1986, § 960:00)
State law reference— Authorized penalty for ordinance violations, Minn. Stat. §§ 410.33, 412.231, 609.0332, 609.034.
Sec. 1-11. Code does not affect prior offenses or rights.
a) Nothing in this Code or the ordinance adopting this Code affects any offense or act committed or done, any penalty or forfeiture incurred, or any contract or right established before the effective date of this Code.
Sec. 46-4. Obstruction of public way.
No person shall encumber the city streets, sidewalks, alleys, lanes or public grounds with carriages, carts, wagons, sleighs or other vehicles or with boxes, lumber, firewood, posts, awnings, paper, ashes, refuse, offal, dirt, garbage, stones or other material or obstruction of any kind.
Sec. 50-26. Criminal trespass.
No person shall:
(1) Intentionally enter upon the property of another and, without claim of right, refuse to depart therefrom on demand of the owner, lawful possessor or person with authority to control access to the property;
(2) Intentionally enter upon the property of another without express consent of the owner, lawful possessor or person with authority to control access to the property in the following situations:
- After such person has been given written notice by the owner, lawful possessor or person with authority to control access to the property directing that such person not enter upon the property; the written notice may be given to the person by certified mail or by service as provided for civil process; or
b. After the property has been conspicuously posted with a notice directing that no person or no person other than persons included in a named classification enter upon the property at any time or at specifically stated times; or
(3) Intentionally enter a building or structure of any kind without the consent, express or implied, of the owner, lawful possessor or person with authority to control access to the building or structure. Whoever enters a building or structure while open to the general public does so with consent, unless consent is withdrawn by giving notice to such person directing that such person not enter the building or structure; the written notice may be given to the person by certified mail or by service as provided for civil process.
(Code 1986, § 955:00)
State law reference— Trespass, Minn. Stat. § 609.605.
No person shall write, print, stick, post, or place any bill, placard or sign of any description upon the sidewalks or other public structure of the city.
Sec. 50-86. Disorderly conduct.
No person shall:
(2) Engage in brawling or fighting;
(3) Disturb an assembly or meeting, not unlawful in its character;
(4) Spit upon any sidewalk or crosswalk;
(6) Annoy, disturb, interfere with, obstruct or be offensive to others to a degree whereby a breach of peace may be or is likely to be occasioned;
(7) Fail or refuse to obey a police officer’s lawful order; or
(8) Be guilty of any indecent or obscene acts or any lewd, indecent or obscene conduct, language, or behavior.
Sec. 50-87. Noisy parties or assemblies.
(a) Any person who participates in any party or assembly of two or more people from which noise emanates of a sufficient volume or of sufficient nature to disturb the peace, quiet or repose of another person is guilty of a misdemeanor. Any owner or tenant of the place at which a disturbance is occurring, who has knowledge of the disturbance and fails to immediately abate the disturbance, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
(b) A police officer may order all persons present at a noisy party or assembly prohibited in subsection (a) of this section, other than the owners or tenants of the place at which the disturbance is occurring, to immediately disburse. Any person who shall refuse to leave after being so ordered to do so by a police officer shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
Sec. 50-88. Social host. …
Northfield, Minnesota, Code of Ordinances >> PART II – NORTHFIELD CODE >> Chapter 50 – OFFENSES AND MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS >> ARTICLE V. OFFENSES INVOLVING PUBLIC MORALS >>
Sec. 50-116. Curfew for minors.
(a) The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this section, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this subsection, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
Public parks and walkways includes Sechler Park; Odd Fellows Park; Central Park; Babcock Park; Way Park; Riverside Park; Cherry Park; Sibley Marsh; Sibley Swale; Bridge Square; Riverwalkway from Second Street to Fifth Street; River Pedestrian Bridge; and any park, playground or walkway maintained by the city. [Emphasis mine]
Public places includes public streets, parking lots, highways, roads, alleys, public buildings and grounds; places of amusement, refreshment or entertainment; vacant lots; or other unsupported places. [Emphasis mine]
Responsible adult includes a parent, legal guardian, or his/her adult designee, having care and custody of a minor under the age of 18 or any adult having responsibility for a supervised activity.
Supervised activity includes events sponsored and supervised by schools, churches or civic groups or events where a responsible adult is present.
(b) No minor under the age of 16 shall loiter, loaf or be idle in a public place or public park or walkway between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. of the following day unless in the company of a responsible adult or going to, attending, or returning from a supervised activity.
(c) No minor under the age of 18 and over the age of 15 shall loiter, loaf or be idle in a public place or park or walkway between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 5:00 a.m. the following day unless in the company of a responsible adult or going to, attending, or returning from a supervised event.
(d) No parent, legal guardian or other adult having the care and custody of a minor under the age of 18 shall knowingly permit such minor to violate subsection (b) or (c) of this section.
(e) No person operating or in charge of any place of amusement, entertainment, or refreshment shall knowingly permit any minor under the age of 18 to loiter, loaf or be idle in such place during the hours prohibited by this section. This subsection shall not apply when the minor is accompanied by his/her parents, legal guardian, or other adult having the care and custody of the minor.
(1) On an errand at the direction of the minor’s parent or guardian, without any detour or stop;
(2) In a motor vehicle involved in interstate travel;
(3) Engaged in an employment activity, or going to or returning home from an employment activity, without any detour or stop;
(4) Involved in an emergency;
(6) Attending an official school, religious, or other recreational activity supervised by adults and sponsored by the school district, a civic organization, or another similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor; or going to or returning home from, without any detour or stop, an official school, religious, or other recreational activity supervised by adults and sponsored by the city, a civic organization, or another similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor; or
(7) Exercising First Amendment rights protected by the United States Constitution, such as the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, and the right of assembly. [Emphasis mine]
(Code 1986, §§ 930:00—930:20)
All city parks as defined in section 50-116(a) shall be closed between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. the following day. Any person found in the parks after closing hours shall be in violation of this section. Exceptions to this section shall include annual Defeat of Jesse James Days events, any person or groups granted special permission by city officials or city staff, or any person or groups wanting to camp overnight, after first obtaining permission from the police department. All permissions or special permissions referenced in this section shall be granted upon a showing that there will be compliance with all laws and ordinances and a showing that the proposed activity will not endanger park property, the public peace or the public safety.
Northfield, Minnesota, Code of Ordinances >> PART II – NORTHFIELD CODE >> Chapter 58 – PEDDLERS, SOLICITORS AND TRANSIENT MERCHANTS >> ARTICLE I. IN GENERAL >> (IN case needed for future reference)
Sec. 58-1. Definitions.
The following words, terms and phrases, when used in this chapter, shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this section, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
Peddler means any person who goes from house to house, place to place or from street to street conveying or transporting goods, wares or merchandise or offering or exposing the goods, wares or merchandise for sale, or making sales and delivering articles to purchasers. The term “peddler” does not include vendors of milk, bakery products, groceries, food products or ice, who distribute their products to regular customers on established routes.
Solicitor means any person who goes from house to house, place to place, or street to street, soliciting or taking or attempting to take orders for sale of goods, wares or merchandise, including magazines, books, periodicals or personal property of any nature for future delivery, or for service to be performed in the future, whether or not such individual has, carries or exposes for sale a sample of the subject of such order or whether or not advance payments on such orders are collected. The term “solicitor” includes any person who, for himself/herself or another, hires, leases, uses or occupies any building, motor vehicle, trailer, structure, tent, railroad boxcar, boat, hotel room, lodginghouse, apartment, shop or other place within the city for the primary purpose of exhibiting samples and taking orders for future delivery.
Transient merchant means any person, whether as owner, agent, consignee or employee, who engages in a temporary business of selling and delivering goods, wares and merchandise within the city and who, in furtherance of such purposes, hires, leases, uses or occupies any building, structure, motor vehicle, trailer, tent, railroad boxcar, boat, public room in a hotel, lodginghouse, apartment, shop or any street, alley or other place within the city for the exhibition and sale of such goods, wares and merchandise, either privately or at public auction, provided that the term “transient merchant” shall not be construed to include any person who, while occupying such temporary location, does not sell from stock, but exhibits samples for the purpose of securing orders for future delivery only.
(a) Any organization, society, association or corporation (“organization”) desiring to solicit or to have solicited in its name money, donations of money or property, or financial assistance of any kind or desiring to sell or distribute any item of literature or merchandise for which a fee is charged or solicited from persons other than members of such organization upon the streets, in office or business buildings, by house-to-house canvas, or in public places for a charitable, religious, patriotic or philanthropic purpose is exempt from article II of this chapter, provided there is filed a sworn application in writing on a form to be furnished by the finance director/city clerk which contains the following information:
(1) The organization’s name and the specific cause for which exemption is sought;
(2) Names and addresses of the officers and directors of the organization;
(4) Whether or not any commission, fee, wage or emolument is to be expended in connection with such solicitation and the amount thereof.
(b) Upon being satisfied that such an organization is a religious, charitable, patriotic or philanthropic organization, the finance director/city clerk shall issue a license without a fee to such organization. Such organization shall furnish all of its members, agents or representatives conducting solicitation credentials in writing stating the name of the organization, the name of the agent and the purpose of the solicitation.
Sec. 58-7. Penalty.
Any person convicted of violating any provisions of this chapter shall be guilty of a petty misdemeanor. Each violation shall constitute a separate offense.