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No Free Speech at Liberty Bell

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A well-known street preacher has been convicted of two federal crimes for preaching the gospel on the public sidewalk outside Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

It was back on October 6 last year when Michael Marcavage, director of Repent America, was arrested by National Park rangers for refusing to leave the public sidewalk outside the Liberty Bell Center. He explains what happened:

“I was instructed that I needed to go to the ‘free-speech zone,’ which was on the other side of the Liberty Bell Center, away from the people that we were attempting to speak with and reach with our [gospel] tracts,” says Marcavage. “This was a main thoroughfare where there are, throughout the day, thousands of people that pass by. So this was a prime location for us to be able to witness to as many people as possible.”

On Friday, Marcavage was convicted of two federal offenses, fined $445, and ordered not to return to the National Independence Historic Park for a year without first notifying Park Service officials and obtaining a permit if he planned to engage in any evangelistic activities. Read the rest here at OneNewsNow!

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A well-known street preacher has been convicted of two federal crimes for preaching the gospel on the public sidewalk outside Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.

It was back on October 6 last year when Michael Marcavage, director of Repent America, was arrested by National Park rangers for refusing to leave the public sidewalk outside the Liberty Bell Center. He explains what happened.

“I was instructed that I needed to go to the ‘free-speech zone,’ which was on the other side of the Liberty Bell Center, away from the people that we were attempting to speak with and reach with our [gospel] tracts,” says Marcavage. “This was a main thoroughfare where there are, throughout the day, thousands of people that pass by. So this was a prime location for us to be able to witness to as many people as possible.”

On Friday, Marcavage was convicted of two federal offenses, fined $445, and ordered not to return to the National Independence Historic Park for a year without first notifying Park Service officials and obtaining a permit if he planned to engage in any evangelistic activities. Assistant U.S. Attorney Rich Goldberg argued that Marcavage’s presence constituted a danger to those entering and leaving the national monument. But Marcavage thinks it is not his presence, but his gospel message that officials found threatening.

“And that’s really what this was about, because there were other people on that sidewalk engaged in political activity,” he recalls. “There were people … on that sidewalk who were engaged in breast cancer awareness activity — and they were not hindered and they were not stopped from what they were doing.”

But the Christian activist claims he was singled out as a “target.”

“I believe it’s because we’ve been there before on a number of occasions and we have turned down, in each of those examples, going to the ‘free-speech zone,’ stating that we wanted to be here because this is where the people are — not behind the building where we’re away from everyone we’re here to reach,” says Marcavage. In fact, he adds, the prosecutor in the case had argued that he and his group were not permitted to say whatever they want in the public square without being regulated.

“Even for the people who disagree with the gospel message, this should be very concerning because here we have the government telling us that we can’t speak on a public sidewalk,” he notes.

Marcavage says he had a police officer from the area present as part of his ministry team to ensure that they were not breaking any laws. That officer testified in Marcavage’s defense at the trial. The conviction will be appealed, and Marcavage is seeking an injunction to stop the restrictions against him from being enforced.

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