A Baptist church in Indianapolis is standing its ground in a dispute with city officials over alleged violations concerning zoning codes. The Alliance Defense Fund is appealing the decision of a federal judge that could prevent the church members from meeting in their leased facilities.
Last month, city officials in Indianapolis sent a letter to the Baptist Church of the Westside, where members meet regularly at their leased building for worship and other church-related activities. The letter said the church’s “religious use” of the property violated the city’s zoning code.
A federal district court has refused to halt enforcement of the zoning code, so ADF attorneys are appealing that decision. David Langdon, an allied attorney with ADF, says churches should not be relegated to second-class status by city zoning officials.
“The city has indicated that they’re going to pursue legal action against the church, which could involve severe fines up to $2,500 a day as well as possibly seek an injunction from a court shutting them down, preventing them from meeting and from worshipping on Sunday mornings and on Wednesday nights and so forth.”
Gideons arrested for distributing Bibles on public sidewalk February 8, 2007Posted by C.A.R.D in ADF, Alliance Defense Fund, Anthony Mirto, anti-Christian, Bible, Bibles, Card, Christian, Christians, Cindy Peryam, Discriminate, Discrimination, distributing Bibles, Ernest Simpson, Gideons, Gideons arrested, Gideons International, Janine Gedman, Jo DeCamp, Jon Ellsworth, Monroe County Sheriff, Rick Ramsay, Sheriff Rick Roth, Val Marinello.
PLANTATION KEY, Fla. — Two members of Gideons International arrested for distributing Bibles on a public sidewalk will be represented by Alliance Defense Fund attorneys. Anthony Mirto and Ernest Simpson were arrested, booked into jail, and charged with trespassing.
“The First Amendment protects the right to engage in religious speech on a public sidewalk,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David Cortman. “Members of the Gideons have been highly respected for decades as peaceful providers of free Bibles to those who want them.”
On Jan. 19, Mirto and Simpson began distributing copies of the Bible on a public sidewalk outside Key Largo School. Neither man entered school grounds. After the school’s principal called police, a Monroe County Sheriff’s officer asked the men to leave immediately or face trespassing charges. As the men prepared to leave, the officer decided to arrest both individuals.
A hearing will be held March 5 in the County Court in and for Monroe County, Florida, in State of Florida v. Simpson and State of Florida v. Mirto. ADF attorneys are preparing a motion to dismiss the charges.