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Christians threatened with arrest at N.Y. “gay pride” event file suit

ADF attorneys represent Christians prevented from sharing faith at Elmira city park

ELMIRA, N.Y. —Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Elmira after police prohibited a group of Christians from expressing their beliefs at a recent event celebrating homosexual behavior.

“Christians shouldn’t be discriminated against for expressing their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster.  “Police cannot threaten to arrest Christians at a city park for sharing their viewpoint at an event open to the general public.  Respecting their free speech rights is not optional.”

On June 14, police threatened to arrest John Barnes and several other Christians for wearing shirts with the message “Liberated by the blood of Jesus,” handing out literature, holding up signs on a public sidewalk surrounding the event, and speaking with event attendees about their faith.  The event was held in a city park and was open to the general public, making the police’s suppression of Barnes’ expression unconstitutional.

“Exercising your First Amendment rights is not a crime,” Oster added.  “Threatening to arrest Christians simply because they have opposing views and choose to exercise their free speech rights at a public place is unconstitutional.”

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith.  Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.