Christian Post , 4/24/07: BIBLE DISTRIBUTORS FILE LAWSUIT AFTER ARRESTS, POLICE BULLYING [EXCERPTS]-- Gideons International, an evangelical Christian organization dedicated to distributing copies of the Bible, filed a lawsuit on Friday after members of the organization were arrested for their activities in Florida.
Defending the group is the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF)-a legal alliance that defends the right to speak the "Truth" -which is arguing against the unlawful arrests. The Gideon members had been taken into custody because they were within 500 feet of a public school.
"Free speech in America exists even within 500 feet of public school property," explained ADF senior legal counsel David Cortman in a statement. "Under the First Amendment, the Gideons have every right to distribute Bibles on a public sidewalk to those who wish to accept them. There is no legal justification for the continued harassment of peaceful members of the community who wish to hand out Christian literature."
The incident took place...[as] members of the Gideons Key Largo Camp were handing out Bibles outside Key Largo School, located on the southern tip of Florida. The group was on a public sidewalk when two of the Gideons, Mirto and Ernest Simpson, were approached and taken into custody by Monroe County sheriff's officers.
[An arresting officer] added that the Gideons had "no right" to be within 500 feet of school property as well as telling his two detainees that they "can pray to Jesus all the way to jail," according to ADF.
According to the Gideons Key Largo Camp, they did not step on to school grounds, and they had contacted the Monroe Country Sheriff's Office beforehand. They also notified school officials on the day of distribution.
According to the group, both parties had said the activity was allowed.
[TBC: As with last month's news alert, there is an irony here that "peace" officers would shut down men who are sharing the only true hope mankind has for peace, Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.]