panelarrow

Losing Liberties: Don’t Talk to Strangers Rule

| 13 Comments

Mall’s “Don’t Talk to Strangers” Rule
to be Argued Monday in Court of Appeals

Sacramento, CA – The California Court of Appeals will hear arguments Monday in a case testing the validity of a shopping mall’s attempt to prevent adult patrons from talking to each other about hot-button topics such as religion and politics.

The case arose after a youth pastor, Matthew Snatchko, was arrested at the Roseville Galleria Mall in 2007 for striking up a casual conversation with two other shoppers about faith. Although Snatchko had first obtained the shoppers’ permission to broach the subject, a nearby store employee disapproved and called mall security guards, who arrested Snatchko.  Criminal charges were later dropped, but attorneys with Pacific Justice Institute filed suit to challenge the mall’s tight restrictions on speech.

Under the mall’s rules, shoppers are not allowed to express themselves about potentially controversial topics like religion or politics, unless they already know the person they are talking to. Another mall rule bans the wearing of any clothing with religious or political messages.

After a Placer County Superior Court judge upheld the mall’s rules in 2008, Pacific Justice Institute appealed to the Third Appellate District in Sacramento. PJI affiliate attorney, Timothy Smith, will present oral arguments to the court on Monday, June 28.


Brad Dacus, Pres PJI

Attorney Timothy Smith commented, “It’s chilling that mall owners think they can arrest patrons for striking up friendly conversations with strangers. We believe the mall’s actions violated the California’s free speech guarantees.”

PJI President Brad Dacus commented, “Singling out religious speech for punishment violates our most basic principles of free expression as Americans. If anyone can be arrested for mentioning God in a shopping mall, we have lost one of our most fundamental freedoms.”

13 Comments

  1. This is sad and crazy, but the very end of the articule is right on. ” “Singling out religious speech for punishment violates our most basic principles of free expression as Americans. If anyone can be arrested for mentioning God in a shopping mall, we have lost one of our most fundamental freedoms.”

    May God help our country to return to the foundation of Christianity.

    Pastor Steve please keep us updated on this case. God bless.

    -Thomas

  2. If this ruling is upheld, I assume there will be no selling of Obama T-shirts in any of the sotres within the mall. Also, if the word “God” is banned, then would anyone saying, ” Oh my G–!” be arrested, also?

  3. Hey SeedSowerJoy, well said, well said! If they are not going to allow people to witness and talk about God then they should not allow people to take the Lord’s name in vain. Good point also on the Obama t-shirts. God bless.

    -Thomas

  4. I will still wear my Jesus shirt. I must obey God rather than man.

  5. In the first paragraph we have: “hot-button topics such as religion and politics

    In the final paragraph we have: “Singling out religious speech for punishment…

    Hmmm… that’s not exactly consistent.

    Joy wrote: “Also, if the word “God” is banned, then would anyone saying, ” Oh my G–!” be arrested, also?

    Then Thomas wrote: “If they are not going to allow people to witness and talk about God then they should not allow people to take the Lord’s name in vain.

    People, people, the word “God” is not being banned, sheesh. Read it again:

    Under the mall’s rules, shoppers are not allowed to express themselves about potentially controversial topics like religion or politics, unless they already know the person they are talking to.

    Note that if you and I know each other, we can talk about religion and politics as much as we like at the mall. Hence, the word “God” is obviously not banned.

    I would be interested to read the fine print of this, though.

    As I’ve said before, I have no problem with anyone evangelizing to me, but I ask that you don’t prevent other people from doing their shopping. If another adult chooses to talk with you, then I see no problem with evangelizing to them.

    Evangelizing to children at the mall, of course, is a completely different issue. I’d be a bit upset with you if you tried to evangelize to my kid if you did it when I wasn’t present.

  6. It’s a privately owned mall. They have the right to enforce to make rules for their property. The first Amendment applies to government restriction of speech.

    You should be boycotting the mall. I wouldn’t want to shop at a place that eavesdrops on my conversations either.

  7. Nohm wrote: As I’ve said before, I have no problem with anyone evangelizing to me, but I ask that you don’t prevent other people from doing their shopping. If another adult chooses to talk with you, then I see no problem with evangelizing to them.

    Me: I would agree with you. We want to talk to people only if they are willing. We want to be gracious.

    Nohm wrote: Evangelizing to children at the mall, of course, is a completely different issue. I’d be a bit upset with you if you tried to evangelize to my kid if you did it when I wasn’t present.

    Me: I agree completely.

  8. To Azou: Malls are regarded as private/public spaces in California. Even if it was solely private, people still have a right to talk to people in America, except in Dearborn, Michigan.

  9. Nohm,

    Please notice the last sentence in the last paragraph, which says, “if anyone can be arrested for mentioning God in a shopping mall, we have lost one of our most fundamental freedoms.”

    As a Christian, I am offended when I hear people so casually and thoughtlessly blaspheming the name of my GOD. If they knew Him, they use His name in worship and reverence rather than as an expression of surprise or annoyance.

  10. Pastor Steve, you pointed out some good points that Nohm wrote.

    SeedSowerJoy, I totally agree with your last statement. The one thing I struggle with is when people blaspheme the name of God, being able to point out that it is wrong. This is an area I have struggled with for sometime and pray that God would help me over come this sooner rather than later. God bless you SeedSowerJoy for your comments.

    -Thomas

  11. SeedSowerJoy wrote: “if anyone can be arrested for mentioning God in a shopping mall

    And when someone gets arrested simply for mentioning God (and not for being a public nuisance), then we can talk about this. Until then, that’s a huge “if” that, in my opinion, is born of the persecution complex that some of the people on this site seem to exhibit.

    In other words, I don’t think it exists.

    As a Christian, I am offended when I hear people so casually and thoughtlessly blaspheming the name of my GOD. If they knew Him, they use His name in worship and reverence rather than as an expression of surprise or annoyance.

    I’m not exactly sure what the relevance of this paragraph was, but all I can say is that you don’t have a right to not be offended, especially about religious matters (and yes, I feel the exact same way about Muslims).

    I assume if I knew Him that I wouldn’t use that word as an expression of surprise or annoyance, but the culture that I grew up in (American) commonly uses it as such. But as it currently stands, you’re talking about a being that I have no reason to believe exists outside of your imagination. Sorry Joy, but that’s something you’ll just have to deal with…

    Unless you want to leave other people be and keep your religion to yourself… you might find yourself being less offended that way, but I don’t really see that happening.

  12. Having said all of that, I intentionally avoid using “blasphemous” statements around religious friends of mine, and you’ll notice that I never use words like that on Steve’s blog.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.