| PHILADELPHIA --- Following the recent arrest of six Christians for engaging in evangelistic activity after sunset in New Orleans, Louisiana, Repent America is denouncing city officials for its attempts to silence the Gospel, and is calling upon the Department of Justice to immediately intervene in protecting the First Amendment rights of citizens.
Friday night, Pastor Troy Bohn of Raven Ministries and five other Christians were taken into custody for violating the city's "Aggressive Solicitation" ordinance while sharing the Gospel on the 500 block of Bourbon Street. The statute, which was enacted in an effort to curb the aggressive solicitation of donations in the popular section of the French Quarter, also contains a prohibition against political and religious speech after sunset.
"It shall be prohibited for any person or group of persons to loiter or congregate on Bourbon Street for the purpose of disseminating any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise," the ordinance outlines.
On a typical Friday night, thousands gather on Bourbon Street, which is one of the most notorious sections of the city. The area is most known for its preponderance of bars and strip clubs, and is a tourist attraction during events like Mardis Gras and the Southern Decadence Festival, which are marked by drunkenness and lewd behavior.
While Bohn and his team were sharing the Gospel with the large crowds last week, a sergeant approached and advised that they were in violation of the city's "Aggressive Solicitation" ordinance and were all under arrest. They were led to the 8th Precinct headquarters, where three of the men were issued citations. The Christians must now appear in court to fight the charge, which carries a maximum penalty of a $500 fine and six months imprisonment.
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Last month, nine individuals not affiliated with Bohn's ministry were also arrested for violating the ordinance after they continued speaking and holding signs after sunset during the city's Southern Decadence Festival. Six other Christians were kicked off Bourbon Street the same night and threatened with arrest. Bohn's son-in-law is also facing charges for a separate incident.
"New Orleans' 'Aggressive Solicitation' ordinance is not only unconstitutional, but unGodly, as it is nothing less than an attempt to silence the public proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is being used as a tool to protect wickedness and criminalize righteousness," Repent America director Michael Marcavage stated. "New Orleans, which has seen great suffering, remains a city full of lawlessness, and is now targeting the messengers of mercy that God has sent into its streets. God is patient, but His judgments are sure."
Marcavage himself has been arrested under ordinances that criminalize Christianity. In 2004, Marcavage and ten others known as "the Philadelphia 11" were arrested while ministering to attendees at a popular homosexual festival known as OutFest. After being jailed for 21 hours, Marcavage and the others, which included two grandmothers and a minor, were charged under Pennsylvania's "hate crimes" law called "ethnic intimidation." They were also leveled with a host of other bogus felony and misdemeanor charges, including "criminal conspiracy" and "possession of an instrument of crime," and each faced a possible sentence of up to 47 years in prison, along with a $90,000 fine.
Months later, "the Philadelphia 11" were vindicated on all counts, and in 2008 they succeeded in their legal challenge to have Pennsylvania's "hate crimes" law struck down as being unconstitutional.
Repent America is sending a letter to the United States Department of Justice to request that the government intervene by halting the unlawful actions of the City of New Orleans. The New Orleans FBI has been contacted about the situation and has stated that they have received calls from a number of concerned citizens.
"We are calling upon the Department of Justice to bring relief to the Christians that are being oppressed by the tyrannical actions of the City of New Orleans under this Orwellian ordinance," Marcavage stated. "The Church must raise its voice against this great injustice and urge the city to turn from its persecution of Christians. Without Christ, New Orleans will have no hope."
"Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?" - Psalms 94:20