I just learned yesterday that one particularly obnoxious self appointed evangelist was escorted out of a city owned Community Center by police. The staff finally has had it with him, saying that he was bothering people. So they acted.
I am thrilled to hear this. I have not yet commited to this, but I may opt to try and have this person run out of the city parks as well.
But, doesn't this irritating guy have a first amendment right to spout off in a public city park?
When does "acting strange" give evidence of a troubled, unpredictable, out of control person and just a harmless stranger? That sad episode of the woman who lost control in a class discussing contraception, abortion and whatever else was the topic, and she flew off the handle. Or the young man who was murdered by a deranged stranger? We really do need to keep first amendment right in mind, even as we are able to stop a person before a crime has been committed.
We have a strange man that walks in our neighborhood every day and argues with some unseen person. The other day he assaulted my next door neighbor. She was not harmed but terribly frightened. The assault was real. So ... what is the prudent thing to do? In this case, an assault had been committed, although not a serious one.
I agree, Dogly. While he may have been escorted out of the community center because he was causing problems (public nuisance or something), he does have the right to speak in a public place, as long as he's not really causing real problems, like inciting a riot or threatening harm to others. Obviously, if he's not safe, the police have to do something about it, but if he's just an obnoxious religious jackass, there's not much you can do. I think harassing these types of people just makes us look as bad as the religious already think we are. Most of us are trying to show you can be "good without god(s)," not "see? we're just as hateful and spiteful as you are!"
Some of you would do better here if you actually read what I have posted. I respect equal citizenship, freedom and speech and freedom of religion.
But this does not give a creepy self appointed evangelist who tells us who is going to burn in hell and who should be put to death the rigth to bother people on public property. There is some allowance for political protest being a right, and hence relaxation of property rights.
But weekly bothering people in the community center is outside of that. I had nothing to do with the expulsion, but I congragulated city staff for having done so.
This guy does the same thing in city parks and it certainly bothers me. I have not decided yet, but I may seek his removal from there too.
I can read just fine. I know you're saying you respect those things. But words are words, and your many posts about intimidating people who are proselytizing (I think it's annoying as well, and it pisses me off) in public places, or trying to goad them into violence, trying to figure out ways to trick them into getting in trouble, these things aren't examples of your respect for freedom of speech or religion.
And this is just my opinion, so it really shouldn't matter much to you. But my point was that your behavior towards these people just makes the entire group of atheists or secular humanists or whatever group you identify with look bad. I just don't see that being so violently antagonistic is going to help the cause in any way. Again, just one little person's opinion. You're certainly free to do as you see fit.
First of all, I don't identify with any group.
Second, they way I am seen is as an anti-born again.
Provoking them into violence is a tactic when they show fundamental disrespect for my person hood, and say in sulting things, sugar coated with Christianism. Exposing their malice works well.
They have a right to free speech, but never has this mean the right to say absolutely anything anywhere. I had to lecture a city attorney about the first amendment once. All it means is that their can't be laws specficially against religion or free speech. This is all it means, no more.
You or I would be expelled from a public park if we were bothering people. I may seek to have this done with this evangelist. Not decided yet.
But you are right if you detect that I decline the Live and Let Live doctrine with Born Again Christianity as a movement. I am not the government. I am not restrained by the first amendment.
The religious right has taken the term, "public square" and twisted the meaning. They accuse secularists of trying to remove religion from the public square. In fact, most atheists consider the religious orator standing on a soapbox in the "public square" of a municipal park to be within his rights. It doesn't matter if he offends us. We have no constitutional right to not be offended. We, too, can set up nearby and give our own speeches.
What we are working against is the religious incursion into the halls of government and into public schools. Prayers at County Commission meetings, bible readings and ten commandments posted in public schools are good examples of violations of the establishment clause of the first amendment. This is because our taxes support these institutions as they are part of the government. Therefore the government would thus be establishing a state religion by conducting religious prayers and ceremonies.
Unless this evangelist is touching people, using a megaphone, or doing something else that is illegal, he has a perfect right to bother people with his oratory. Google a bit about the history of the soap box orators in Boston Common. Even Obama gave a speech there!
IMO one of the most effective tactics to use around fanatical soap box tirades is to giggle, or laugh loudly, (or shout, "Tits to the wind!"), and walk away.
They can't stand to be ignored.
Yes, I agree. But that's why it comes down to a turf battle. See, these religious groups are wound into all manner of community functions. So its not so much just the park, its that this evangelical creep has taken over a regularly scheduled event.
But you know that I've mocked him and sang to him.
I've told him, "Born Again Christianity is a lot like alcoholism, BAC, Born Again Christianity, Blood Alcohol Content."
And, "Have you been drinking that New Wine again?"
This guy is a long term alcoholic, never sober since he was a teen ager, until he "got Saved" and started preaching that very day.
He is basically a homeless man who goes around anywhere he can and preaches. He boasts about all the places he's gotten kicked out of.
A little church lets him park his mom's car on their grounds, which he sleeps in.
Some people give him money, I guess about $20 per week. Sometimes people pay his car insurance or fix his car for him.
He denounces other fundamentalist preachers saying that they are only in it for the money. But if he could, he would love to be one of them. He says, "Some day I'm going to have my own congregation.
Anyway, it is basically a turf battle.
I agree with Julie that provoking anyone to violence may not be the most productive path for the near or long term. It's one thing to refuse to get pushed around by xians or other religious people - that's standing up for one's rights - but a situation which adds violence, via whatever means, may spiral out of control with terrible consequences far beyond any reasonable expectation or outcome. Stand firm, but keep to the high road...isn't that part of MLK's teaching and what gave the civil rights movement legitimacy?