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Lost Liberties/USA: DMV Bible Reader Arrested

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Mark and Brett are friends of mine. I’ve served with them at a few Ambassadors’ Academies as leaders of various evangelism teams. They were arrested for reading the Bible at the Department of Motor Vehicles in California. (Read the account here.)

What do you think? (By the way, what the police call “Captive Audiences,” we call “Organic Congregations.”)

But there’s some good news to report. Last year, a man was arrested in a Sacramento mall for sharing his faith with patrons. A lawsuit was brought to bear. Here is the ruling from that affair from the Pacific Justice Institute:

A free speech case that created significant precedent in California and focused national attention on a shopping mall’s speech restrictions has been amicably resolved out of court, pursuant to a confidential agreement.

Attorneys for Pacific Justice Institute, who represented plaintiff and youth pastor Matthew Snatchko, noted, however, that the settlement is consistent with a California Court of Appeal decision last August that criticized the mall’s rules that attempted to limit consensual conversations between mall patrons. The court held in favor of Snatchko.

The details of the case can be reviewed in the published decision of the California Court of Appeal, at Snatchko v. Westfield (2010) 187 Cal.App.4th 469. The opening paragraph of the court’s opinion includes the following summary:

In this case we conclude the rules of a large regional shopping mall that prohibit peaceful, consensual, spontaneous conversations between strangers in common areas of the mall about topics that are not related to the activities of the mall, its tenants or the noncommercial sponsored activities of the mall or its tenants are content-based rules that do not withstand a strict scrutiny analysis. The rules are unconstitutional on their face under article I, section 2 of the California Constitution, the California constitutional provision which guarantees the right to free speech.

Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, “We are very pleased by this settlement, which brings to a culmination our efforts of the last several years on behalf of pastor Snathcko and free speech. We would like to highlight the enormous contributions of PJI affiliate attorney Timothy Smith, who worked on this case for years without any compensation other than the knowledge that it was a just cause.”

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27 Comments

  1. Nice to see where my tax money is going. What a joke.
    And isn’t it the law that the arresting officer should be reading the miranda rights? Or did that change while I wasn’t watching?

    This video and the Dearborn video I just watched the other night of the Christians getting arrested in Dearborn at the Muslim Festival – yuck –

    Thanks Steve for this video – I am going to start supporting this http://www.faith-freedom.com group – because they will be very busy in the next few years as persecution in the USA increases!

    I disagree with the arrest but do realize these guys should have requested a permit to preach outside the DMV
    Guess they kind of set themselves up for this one – even though I still disagree with the arrest and would be curious what law they really broke.

    Wow.

  2. Miranda rights apply to using a suspect’s words against him or herself. If you are arrested for something minor, they will generally not bother. It is only when you have been arrested and they used what you say against you that Miranda Rights matter. And even then that doesn’t mean you are “let go,” it just means your statements would not be permissible in the court room.

    What I think depends on the variables. If you’re on the DMV property, then you’ll probably suffer whatever minor penalties they throw are you. It’s a DMV, not a place for you to solicit whatever you want to people. It’s disruptive and not conducive to what the DMV is meant for. That’s not just for religious talk but anything under the sun. The DMV is not your soapbox.

    If you want to legally use the DMV for that purpose, then simply pass out tracts while waiting for your own DMV business. People are just sitting around anyways, so it’s not a huge deal.

    I mean, doesn’t the DMV go slow enough as it is?

  3. You know, let’s run over this again, because I’ve never heard a credible answer to it. (Heard plenty of double-talk, but nothing that held up.

    “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:5-6)

  4. I didn”t think you have to have a permit to share your faith. I didn’t see if people were bother bye there preaching. It is sad when your freedom will be taking away, just because you want to share your faith and care for their Soul. Please pray for the officer and security officer and For my brother in Christ Thank You Charlie Jesue Love you

  5. Oh, and incidentally, thanks to my Mad Googlin’ Skillz, how about this?

    The CHP has jurisdiction over state-owned property such as DMV offices, Soubirous said.

    “The whole thing is, when you go to the DMV, you are not allowed to do any other business,” Soubirous said. He said the men did not have a permit to speak there, which is required on state property for anything other than the intended business.

    “We would have granted them a permit to go out and preach,” Soubirous said. “There is a mechanism to be allowed to protest…We don’t inhibit people’s right to free speech–we regulate it.”

    Soubirous said he believes the group was aware of the permitting process, and that CHP officers had had prior contact with them.

    He added that the same principles apply to a DMV office as do at the State Capitol building, which is also under the jurisdiction of CHP.

    “I do know that what goes on at the State Capitol, where they have 15 protests a day, may seem foreign to groups here,” Soubirous said.

    Remember that whole thing about “two sides to every story”?

  6. I am so pleased to see Christians standing up for our right to read the Bible in public.
    I just joined the Ezra project and was out there myself reading the Bible OAP style on Good Friday.

  7. All this could have been avoided if these guys had followed the law and obtained a permit to do this. Steve, you & I know of several people who do this on a regular basis at other DMV offices. They legally obtain a permit and none have been arrested. Although it did give lots of free advertising for the legal group, as I’ve seen this on several sites already.

    RE: Namelesscritic: These guys were reading from the bible, not praying. So don’t think your scripture applies here.

  8. Sorry got your name wrong: Nameless CYNIC. I apologize.

  9. When I say ‘out there’ I mean out in my city. We went to two different places to read the Bible OA.

  10. I do believe you need a permit to Preach on DMV property, doesnt “Rigtheous Richard” have such a permit? Id have to say that DMV may have had the right to stop them since its a place for public business rather then acess?, While I do support public preaching we do need to follow laws of the land.

  11. @toni
    “OAP style”? One Act Play? Old Age Pensioner?

    @Tom
    ‘Salright. Little of both, most of the time.

    @Ryan
    OK, doesn’t apply here. What about the standard streetcornering?

  12. Cynic, don’t bring facts into this!

  13. The public street is protected free speech territory for the most part, same with parks, as far as public areas that require buisness to be performed such as court houses ect im not sure but I believe you cannot preach without a permit or you must stay at a certain distance, but I could be wrong.

    In Hollywood, or Las Vegas from what I know from personal experiance is that the police will not interfear with preaching.

  14. So, are we in agreement that in this case the title, “Lost Liberties/USA” is a bit of unnecessary hyperbole?

    • There is no such thing as “unnecessary hyperbole,” especially if people read the article or watch the video.

      And don’t you think that the CHP was a little too direct, too much in a hurry to cart the guy off?

      I’ll be posting a video soon about what happened when a police officer told me to stop preaching yesterday… and what happened. It turned out good!

  15. Officer: Alright Move along, fella.
    Steve: I love you.
    Officer: Oooo… kay…… carry on.

  16. You can say anything *cough* if it leads to Jesus!

  17. Steve wrote: “And don’t you think that the CHP was a little too direct, too much in a hurry to cart the guy off?

    I took it as something that that particular cop has dealt with a lot before: either people preaching to the captive audience at the DMV, or with that particular individual.

    If I was a betting man, I’d go with the latter.

  18. I am so pleased to see Christians standing up for our right to read the Bible in public.

    But that isn’t exactly what he was doing, was it. If he was standing in line reading to himself, he wouldn’t have been arrested. He was reading to the people in line – he was preaching to them.

    As the officer stated, there are other public places where this guy could preach. Regardless of cutesy names, the preacher was there to take advantage of the situation. Don’t you guys have enough faith in your God’s word that you need to resort to these practices?

    There is no such thing as “unnecessary hyperbole,” especially if people read the article or watch the video.

    Why do you call him a Bible reader when he was clearly preaching? Why do you say his liberties were lost when the officer specifically said that while he couldn’t preach at the DMV he was free to preach at other public areas. Why wouldn’t the police consider this nothing more than taking care of a nuisance?

  19. I don’t believe the DMV owns the property on which it sits. it seems to be on a strip mall which is owned by someone else. A permit may not apply here.

    Besides that, there was no effort on the part of the CHP officer to resolve the situation, ask them to move on, etc. This was a bully tactic aimed, not at the individual, but at the preaching of the word in general. He stripped the bible from Pastor Mark without hardly a word. His actions were directed against the speech and from where that speech was eminating.

  20. Hatch wrote: “Besides that, there was no effort on the part of the CHP officer to resolve the situation, ask them to move on, etc.

    Again, if I was a betting man, I’d bet that that particular cop has dealt with Pastor Mark and/or people preaching at the DMV.

  21. Maybe he was a Jewish cop?

  22. Steve Pivovaroff wrote:

    The same should be for the evolutionists and professors that mock and insult Christianity.

    Please explain what you mean by this.

    Yet, they aren’t arrested for teaching their religion on Government Property.

    And exactly what “religion” would this be? Also, please explain how it is a religion.

  23. @Nohm- Thanks for the question, but if you continue my post, you will see that I explained myself in regards to the comment that JDiver made. A lot of Christians can’t afford Private School, nor homeschooling because of working issues…and the Christian families are forced in Public Schools to the evolution, big bang theory, monkey to man garbage. Then, add in all the gay/lesbian push, the want to exclude prayer and the name of Jesus Christ out of schools, these are just a few of the issues.

    Religion is defined as from Dictionary.com:

    re·li·gion   /rɪˈlɪdʒən/ Show Spelled
    [ri-lij-uhn] Show IPA

    –noun
    1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
    2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
    3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.

    Atheism or the belief there is no God, no Satan, no Hell no Afterlife…..is a belief of some sorts. Thus you have a religion and are part of a religion, just not the TRUTH.

  24. @Steve Pivovaroff-

    Atheism=/=evolution- Plenty of Christians including 1 billion Catholics agree that ToE best explains the diversity of life on Earth. It transcends religional boundaries and is accepted by people of all faiths.

    [i]Christian families are forced in Public Schools to the evolution, big bang theory, monkey to man garbage.[/i]

    You’re also “forced” to learn that 2+2=4, that Pi=3.1415…, that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, and that the Holocaust happened. There’s no law against public schools teaching the findings that are supported by a consensus among experts in that field. If you don’t want to believe that evolution happens or you want to believe that 2+2=5 that’s your right but they’re not going to change the curriculum just for you. We don’t alter history class to accommodate Moon landing denialists, Holocaust denialist, or those who think that the Pyramids were built by aliens so why should we alter biology class to accommodate creationists? You want to remove ToE from school and teach creationism instead? Then get your research published in a reputable science journal and gain the consensus of experts in biology.

  25. Steve Pivovaroff wrote:

    @Nohm- Thanks for the question, but if you continue my post, you will see that I explained myself in regards to the comment that JDiver made.

    I think my questions still apply, though. In other words, I don’t think your explanation answered my questions.

    A lot of Christians can’t afford Private School, nor homeschooling because of working issues…

    I understand.

    and the Christian families are forced

    That’s hyperbole.

    in Public Schools to the evolution, big bang theory,

    I question your knowledge on how often the Big Bang model is discussed, and yes, biology is taught to high school students.

    Public schools also teach chemistry and physics.

    monkey to man garbage.

    This is highly distorted hyperbole. I don’t know if you did this on purpose, or if you have been misinformed.

    Then, add in all the gay/lesbian push,

    I have a hard time believing this is as accurate as you suggest. But yes, some people are gay.

    the want to exclude prayer

    I think you have been misinformed, and I’ll assume this wasn’t hyperbole.

    and the name of Jesus Christ out of schools

    Within what context? I’ll give the benefit of the doubt and assume that you’ve been misinformed.

    these are just a few of the issues.

    I’m not convinced to be concerned about those issues, and some of them are just bogeymen.

    Okay, so below you give three definitions for “religion”, with the purpose to show that atheism and/or the theory of evolution are religions. So, after each definition I’ll explain why it doesn’t work.

    Religion is defined as from Dictionary.com:

    –noun
    1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe,

    Atheism makes no claims concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe. Certain atheists might, but they would only be speaking on their own. The closest atheism gets to this is the non-acceptance of the claim that one or more gods did it.

    Atheism is the non-acceptance of the claim “one or more gods exist”.

    The theory of evolution also makes no claims concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe. The theory of evolution makes claims that explain the diversification of life.

    especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies,

    Steve P., I hope we can both agree that neither atheism nor the theory of evolution consider a superhuman agency (i.e., God) as the creator.

    usually involving devotional and ritual observances,

    If you can give me an example of devotional and ritual observances in either atheism or the theory of evolution, I’m all ears.

    and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

    The theory of evolution does not contain a moral code of any kind. It is an explanation for the diversity of life; nothing more and nothing less.

    While secular humanism certainly suggests a general template for a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs, atheism has nothing to say on it, since atheism is simply the non-acceptance of “God did it”.

    a specific fundamental set of beliefs

    Even if you consider atheism a belief, and I generally don’t, there certainly isn’t a specific fundamental set of them. If you made a list, something tells me I wouldn’t agree with all of them. Yet, I’m still an atheist.

    The theory of evolution is certainly not “a specific fundamental set of beliefs”, unless you want to get really meta.

    and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects

    You’ll have to explain to me how this matches either atheism or the theory of evolution, because this sounds more like…

    the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

    Oh yeah… that.

    3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.

    #3 is more of a grouping of people that match definition #2, than it is its own definition.

    So, I don’t see how atheism (which is decidedly NOT taught in public schools) or the theory of evolution match any definition of “religion”.

    If you still think either of them do, please explain.

    Atheism or the belief there is no God,

    That’s your definition of the word; not ours.

    Atheism is the lack of a belief in gods. Or the non-acceptance of the claim that one or more gods exist. Sure, some also believe that no gods exist, but it’s not mandatory.

    no Satan, no Hell no Afterlife

    While certainly the majority of atheists don’t believe in these things, it’s not mandatory. I’ll tell you that I, personally, am completely open to the idea of believing in God, Satan, Hell, Heaven, etc… but I am skeptical; there are many steps involved.

    …..is a belief of some sorts.

    Well, the way you framed it, yes. You start the sentence with “…the belief there is no…”, so yes, a belief is a belief. A non-belief is not a belief of some sorts, and it’s doubtful that you’ll be able to convince me otherwise, but I’m listening.

    Having said that, I recognize that many atheists also believe that the things you listed do not exist. And, for the sake of this discussion, we’ll assume that I believe that God, Satan, Hell, and Heaven do not exist (although, to be blunt, I have far stronger disbelief in the latter three items).

    Thus you have a religion and are part of a religion,

    Even if we accepted that I have a belief, the definitions you displayed (that I listed here) show that it’s much more than just a belief to match the definition of “religion”. So, I disagree that I have a religion, and I absolutely disagree that I’m part of a religion.

    If you think that atheists necessarily agree on anything outside the general concept of “I don’t accept that claim of God-did-it”, you’re sorely mistaken.

    just not the TRUTH.

    You haven’t shown that your beliefs match reality (otherwise, they’d be my beliefs also), and therefore I cannot accept your unsupported assertion that they are “the TRUTH”.

    Be well. 🙂

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